“Hallow” Again: Annual Beggar’s Opera Returns
We try to cope with the alleged holiday
By Ed Goldman
As I write this I’m in the reception area of Andy’s Attitude Adjustment Clinic in a funky section of midtown Sacramento (all cities’ midtowns may be said to have funky sections). It’s on the same block as Sandra’s Psychic Healing/ Mood Rings/Woodshop, and just two doors down from Tommy and Tammy’s Tattoos and Tortillas Emporium (motto: “Ink, Don’t Think!”).
Facing Halloween today—the annual 24-hour period when adults revert to childhood, children all-but-conduct PBS fundraisers for Kit Kat bars, and the United States pretends it’s Rio de Janeiro—I thought it was past time for me to embrace the inevitable. Or at least come to terms with it. Or tolerate it. Or not engage in rants.
I’m surprised to find that Andy’s Attitude Adjustment Clinic has a delightful array of magazines to peruse while awaiting my appointment (as you’ll recall, during the worst days of COVID, most healthcare offices decided the disease was spread by the subscription cards that fall out of magazines; ergo, no magazines).
But today I enjoy skimming such off-grid publications as Psychology for Pstupids; Angle Management, one of the few periodicals I’ve encountered geared to geometry fans (count me in!); Post-Dramatic Dress Disorder, a collection of helpful and gender-neutral articles on living with someone who wore the exact same outfit as someone else to a recent PRIDE gala; and Pretention Magazine, which offers solid advice on how to tell the difference between white and red wines at a mere glance, even across a room.
Once summoned into Doctor Andy’s office, which resembles a grotto and is just as humid, I’m seated on an old-fashioned director’s chair “because you’re the director of the movie that is your life,” he says cheerfully. “I’m simply here for continuity.”
I tell him my intense hatred for Halloween began in childhood, piqued in parenthood and has yet to abide in my golden years. “Why do you suppose that is?” asks Andy, offering me some toxic Skittles which he says he’s kept since last Halloween.
“I dunno,” I answer. “I’ve always had a problem asking people for anything.”
“And yet you’re here, asking for my help,” he sagely says, popping five Skittles into his trap. “My pharmacist says these are fine to eat, by the way. He says he gave some to his maiden aunt on her deathbed. Or vice versa. One of those chicken-and-egg conundrums.”
I see the logic but remind him I’ve never minded paying for something I want; it’s begging or threatening someone (a la “Trick or Treat?”) that gets me. Especially strangers. Threatening people close to me comes more easily.
“But on Halloween, others beg you,” he says, crunching the Skittles and, to my mind, turning a shade of myrtle unfamiliar to me, even after years of buying Crayola jumbo boxes. “So what’s the prob’? And could you dial 911 on your smartphone, please?”
I do so and wait until the EMT team arrives.
“What happened to him?” one asks me as he helps lift Andy onto a gurney.
“I think he was tricked by a treat,” I offer.