Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.



Saturday night was Halloween, and my 33rd wedding anniversary. By chance, it also turned out to be my wife’s 33rd wedding anniversary, so we celebrated it together. She did a splendid job of decorating the house both inside and out, and if it weren’t approaching midnight and I was suddenly feeling lazy, I’d post pictures — but it is, so I won’t. We bought a bag of very bad-for-you candy to dispense to trick-or-treaters, even though we weren’t sure we’d get any. I did say to her, “Well, we’ll at least get those neighbor kids!” Those are three precocious youngsters who live next door, aged about 5 to 11 (I’m estimating here, hence the word “about”), who are quite smart and creative and who gleefully torment our neurotic fox terrier and who made for quite a babysitting income for two of my kids over the years. But then I saw their dad, who is just about the best neighbor one could hope for, a guy who will warn you if you’re parked on the ticketing side of the street, or apprise you via text of package deliveries or if your squabbling gardeners are having a drunken fistfight in your front yard and your teenage son has pulled up a seat to watch because he’s never seen a fight before, which necessitates your hurrying home as quickly as possible. (Yes, we still employ one of those gardeners. One.)

“Hey, your kids are coming over, right? To trick-or-treat?” I called out to him across my lawn the other day.

No, he explained, they were going to some sort of party on Halloween. It went unsaid, but I heard it: pandemic-safe. I completely understood. Still, I was forlorn at not seeing them in their costumes, whatever they’d be. I like kids and I like Halloween.

On Halloween night, nobody else came to our door either. So, for the first time ever, we got no trick-or-treaters. Zero. Which was dispiriting for at least one of the people who got married on Halloween. The other one, when I offered to just leave the candy in a bowl on our porch on the off chance that someone would come by, said, “No! I don’t want people coming onto our porch while we’re gone. In fact, I’m turning off the light!”

What is the version of “Bah, Humbug!” for Halloween?

The evening brightened after that, though, as the missus and I went to a nice restaurant for our anniversary dinner, one that offers al fresco dining. She had thoughtfully purchased masks from the dollar store (she’s a bargain shopper!), and we had dressed our best to color-coordinate with the masks. We sat down and she set about ordering her three drinks. I have been with this woman for a long time, and am now accustomed to the ritual of the three drinks:

  1. The first drink is a “fun cocktail” that she wants to try. And that’s great. It’s a fun evening out and she likes to try fun drinks. That is exactly in the nature of fun evenings out. This stage of drink ordering requires a degree of back-and-forth with the waiter or waitress, as my wife expresses her likes and dislikes, asks about various ingredients and consults the varietal makeup or herbal balance of others on her iPhone, and more, as the person awaiting the order assumes a patient role. Late in this set-to, I jump in decisively with both her order and mine (generally a red wine), to speed things along.
  2. The second drink, after just a sip or maybe two of the first drink, is an adulterated version of the first drink, which she has sent back for corrections. This also gets a sip or maybe — maybe — two.
  3. The third drink is also known as the replacement drink. Still not liking the first drink in either its pure or adulterated format, she now throws that aside and orders a drink unlike those first two. This one delights her!
  4. There is no fourth drink, and generally no second round of the third drink. We are not in our twenties and have both learned our lesson.

Sufficiently libated, we enjoyed our meals, she having the squash ravioli and I the lamb chops. We also had a charcuterie platter dressed with the little food fillips I enjoy: pitted olives, cornichons, tapenade, gluey balls of cheese, and strange meats from foreign lands. We talked about Halloweens past, tried not to make plans for our children who are now adults themselves, shot a little video of ourselves enjoying our desserts and posted it on social, and then watched as well wishes flooded in from near and far. It was a nice evening, even though when we got home our dogs were crazed as always that we’d gone somewhere without them, and deliriously grateful that we’d come back.

Whatever happens with this damn pandemic, it better be done by next Halloween, because I’m not eating an entire bag of candy all by myself again next year.

2 Responses to “Hallowasn’t”

  1. Adrian Says:

    Well, Lee, the circumstances that sounds a pretty fun celebration. Here’s to a blast of a one for number 34.

  2. Dan Says:

    Glad you made a go of your Halloween. Trick-or-Treat was so quiet this year I had to toilet-paper my own house.

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