Tuesday, November 2, 2021

One hal of a hallowed evening

BROTHERS IN ARMS: Or in cigarettes, which 
can be just as important.

My daughter Ria to me: "How was Halloween on Grenadier?" (That's our street. Grenadier Road.)

Well now.

I figure between 100 and 125 trick or treaters showed up. Began as a trickle at about 5:30, grew to a steady flow by 6:30  and by seven, things were slowing down. Then around 7:20,  a neap tide of taller, slightly calmer kids revived the spirits for a bit.  That crowd, I can relate to.

So busy did the street get that, at the height of the trick-or-treating--during those extremely rare moments when the four shelling-out alleged grown-ups on our porch managed to stay silent long enough--you could hear ambient laughing and squealing from up and down the street. The air was electrified.

We hadn't heard anything like this for, well, 18 months or more.

Imagine experiencing this junk for the first time!
And the costumes? They get better every year. 

One of my favourites this week?

A kid, in the second batch who looked like he might be in grade five or eight (how would I know?), had a slightly beat-up tin saucepan for a hat.

My brother Eddie, who has been a Halloween fixture at our place for as long as I can remember, said, "Lemme guess. A pothead." The kid nodded.

Best new thing?

Eddie, me and my wife Helena had help shelling out from our neighbour and friend DaJing.

DaJing's about my age.

He and his wife Yan Ping immigrated from China a year and a half ago. But since nobody tricked or treated in 2020, this past Sunday was DaJing's first Halloween ever.


The costumes, the laughing families, the excited kids scurrying up the steps screaming "trick-or-treat" and their moms and dads, also dressed up (my hands-down fave was a mom wrapped in what must have been a few kilometres of cloth disguised as--what else?--a mummy) reminding them to be polite from the sidewalk with, "what do you say?" All this amid  a sheer ka-ka-storm of candy candy everywhere. 

Then imagine being DaJing seeing this for the first time from the vantage point of our eight-foot-by-eight-foot porch having beer, smokes, jokes, snacks and plain nutsing around with me, Eddie and Helena all competing for attention. I don't know about you, but at times like that, I just can't shut up. 

Pretty scary, huh?
But you also have to know this: A few months back, DaJing and I realized we could bridge the language barrier with--wait for it-- Google Translate. Everybody with access to the Internet can use Google Translate and it's the kind of technology my late mom Huena would deem miraculous. It even speaks Latin and Esperanto. 

TOWER OF BABBLE: My mom would deem
Google Translate a gift from God.
Real life example: I typed "My mom gave birth to 5 boys and 5 girls. I'm the youngest."

On DaJing's computer, Google translates it into Mandarin. 

DaJing types his response: "So you're the baby!" 

I read the English translation out loud while DaJing grins and moves his arms back and forth as if he's rocking a baby. 

And at the exact same moment as Eddie says "And he's still the baby," Helena's like, "you wanna talk spoiled? You wanna talk spoiled?" 

DaJing's still giggling but now he's also reaching into the little plastic pumpkin for another handful of OH HENRY!s to hand out to the kids. And he's laughing like a stoned teenager every time he does so.

You wanna talk chaos on the porch? 
Ed had never seen Google Translate before Sunday evening. When he figured out what it could do, he said, "If they had this when I was travelling around Thailand, I would have met lots more women." 

Then, tap tap tap, I could tell DaJing exactly what his new friend Ed said! 

Our goofy little party lasted the exact right amount of time: A hair shy of 120 minutes.

Just enough time to walk away with a few memorable lessons:

First, in response to Ria's original question about how Halloween was on Grenadier.

I can't imagine it being any better. Part of me believes this was the first post-pandemic party we've all been waiting for.  

Another lesson? You wanna talk something that doesn't need any frikkin' high-tech translation gizmo?



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