Last weekend, on October 31st, we didn’t get much Halloween traffic. We live at the top of the hill, and as a result the only visitors we got looking for candy were either the local kids who basically couldn’t stumble out of their driveway without cutting across our property, or some rather mature-looking elves and ghosts who looked like they’d driven themselves.
But the full pail of leftover Reese’s and KitKats wasn’t the only thing on my mind that evening. After all, trick or treating isn’t even the most significant ritual that occurs on Halloween — at least not to a guy like me, who doesn’t have kids. The most important ritual for me happened later, after all the trick or treaters had probably gone home. I had just finished watching the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets in Game 4 of the World Series. “The Royals just put the ball in play, that’s all they do,” announcers Joe Buck and Harold Reynolds kept reminding us — as though this were just a basic strategy that other teams had simply overlooked. (“That teacher just keeps changing kids’ lives, that’s all he does. Other teachers should consider trying this . . . “) When the game was over, I switched off the TV and headed upstairs. There, my eye was instantly drawn across the dark bedroom to the garish red letters of my old clock, the one still streaked with scotch tape from back in high school when I’d tried to bar myself from an easy alarm switch-off to avoid last-minute Calculus homework. Sadly and without a word I sat down on the bed and cradled the old clock in my hands. I hate this time of year. It was time to set the clock back an hour.
Then I fell asleep — and when I woke up it was cold and rainy and that afternoon, the sun set around 4:30. It was November: the dark time of year.