When we moved into our house 14 years ago, the neighbor came over just before Halloween and broke it to us gently that most likely our house would be covered in TP during the night. The neighborhood kids liked to “welcome” the newcomers with a little extra Halloween decorating. I told her not to worry about us, I had a Halloween Insurance policy that would see us safely through the night, and she looked at me like I was nuts.
But what she didn’t know is that I went to the Rhody Burrows School of Halloween. Rhody, bless his heart, was a dear family friend when I was growing up. I even dedicated Something About Emmaline to his memory. He would have loved that con artist heroine of mine, just about as much as he loved Halloween. Long before everyone else started decorating for this hallowed holiday like it was Christmas, Rhody did it up right. He had a full-sized witch that would swoop across his front yard, an ancient axe (brought across the country by one of his pioneer forebears) that would sit in an old stump with “blood” dripping from it and a terrorized carved pumpkin lying at the base. He had bats and spooky music, and dry ice that filled his yard with a ghoulish vapor.
And he had one other thing that made his house unique beyond any other: he always gave out full-sized candy bars. No fun-sized, penny candy for Rhody, no sirree. He gave out the good stuff.
So when my well-meaning neighbor warned me about the neighborhood hoods, I just smiled. I’d already been to Costco and had my own little insurance policy ready. Full-sized candy bars. And when the little ghouls came to our door, the ones I knew were the TP kings, I insisted they take two. “Real candy bars,” they exclaimed, looking at each other in awe.
If I could have read their minds, I think it would have gone like this: Hey, man, I’m not wrecking a good thing by TP’ing this house. And in 14 years, we’ve never been hit. But my well-meaning neighbor has. Twice.
Thanks, Rhody. I miss you like the devil. Especially this time of year.