On Monday, I told you about my friend Katy, and how she sacrificed her ankle to protect our kids from drowning (or at least getting their pants wet) in the creek behind her pop-up camper. Today, let’s rewind that scene one hour to go Trick or Treating across Lazy River campgrounds in Granville, OH.
This is a first for me. And that’s not just because we’re Trick or Treating away from home. It’s because I’ve never taken my kids Trick or Treating before, period. GB takes them out, and I stay home with a bowl of candy in my lap, waiting for a knock at the door. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there it is. And I have the weirdest case of social anxiety to blame for it.
Because here’s the thing: Mostly, I’m fine in a crowd. Assuming we’ve met before and I know your name, we can sit down and have a laugh or a nice conversation. The problem only arises if we’ve met before and I can’t remember your name—which sends me into such a frenzy of shyness and embarrassment that I’ll skip the neighborhood Christmas party to avoid it, or I’ll lay as low as I can at Parents’ Night.
But this? This is perfect. I’m not expected to know anyone but Katy and the four kids we’re leading around: Optimus Prime, Frankie Stein, Obi-wan Kenobi #1 and Obi-wan Kenobi #2.
For the most part, everyone on the Trick or Treat route is normal, friendly and generous with the Snickers bars. We prompt the kids to say please and thank you, and we’re on our way.
Then we meet up with this guy:
He’s handing suckers and marketing postcards to all the little kids passing by. When Madeline approaches, he says, “Wanna touch my eye?” and when she does, he screams like he’s been felled by his own sickle. Then he laughs and says, “I’m kidding! My eye is fine!”
He looks at Obi-wan #1 and says, “What about you—wanna touch my eye?”
Obi-wan #1’s face says no, but he follows proper Trick or Treat etiquette and grabs the eye anyway. The Reaper screams again, laughs to himself, and hands a sucker and a postcard to each child.
Then he turns to me. “Heeeere,” he says, in the creepiest voice possible. “Yoooou can have a sucker, toooooo.”
We all take a step back. The Reaper says, “You sure have pretty moms, kids. That’s why they get these suckers.” He hands a lollipop to Katy, she and I look at each other, and we leave without speaking.
When I look down at the postcards my boys have shoved into my hands, I see that The Reaper is promoting his martial arts business. Of course, I think. Of course, martial arts.
Two pop-up campers later, when we’re out of earshot, Obi-wan #2 whispers, “I knew that guy wasn’t real because I could see his man neck under his hood.” I laugh until my eyes well up with tears. That’s when I feel a tap on my shoulder.
It’s The Reaper, and he’s in my personal space. He hands me another postcard and says, “Come take a self defense class.” My inner monologue freaks out, but I muster a quick “Thanks,” grab the Obi-wans and bolt.
Well this is a first, for sure: I have never before been hit on by a 7ft-tall, googley-eyed phantom trained in the art of taekwando. It was just so weird.
It’s Sunday morning, and I’m making pancakes in our tiny kitchen. H and Madeline are planning their future together, and I’m dropping chocolate chips into the batter. The cabin is smoky, so I hit the fan on the microwave above the range and start flipping the bacon.
When the smoke alarm goes off, GB opens the door. It’s almost a conditioned response, because our smoke detector at home is too close to the oven, and it goes off almost every time we cook. After a minute or two, he walks into the kitchen and says, “Do you smell smoke?” and then “Why is the stove turning black right behind the frying pan?”
I lift the pan, and see that the toaster cord has somehow fallen onto the gas range. The plastic has melted, and a flame has sparked.
I told GB once that he has trouble in crisis situations. It wasn’t a fair thing to say at the time. And now, as I’m standing frozen with fear and a pan of sizzling bacon, he proves how wrong I am by saying, “It’s ok. Just turn off the burner.”
With shaking hands, I do. And then I watch as he calmly blows out the fire.
We blink at each other, then he pats my shoulder, smirks and walks away.
I feign confidence as I walk through the doors of the campground registration post. A friendly guy sits behind the counter, so I cloak myself with every ounce of charm I can muster, and hand him our keys. “How was your stay?” he asks brightly.
“Oh, it was great, thanks. Although…well, see, I set fire to the toaster. It wasn’t plugged in at the time. I’m wondering how you’d like me to replace it?”
He looks at me for a moment. I can see on his face that he’s bracing himself. “What’s the damage?”
“Oh! Well, it’s not anything really. Just a melted toaster cord. But I’d hate for someone to plug it in and, you know, be electrocuted or something.”
He leans forward conspiratorially and says, “You know, don’t worry about it.”
“No really, I…”
“It’s fine, I promise. Just come back and see us again.” He nods, so I nod back. Then I turn on my heels and leave. I suspect I’ve gotten away with something, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
So. As far as weekends go, this one was lovely but strange. And while it was chock-full of new “experiences,” we are never going back to Lazy River.
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