As Halloween draws near, I am reminded of a most memorable October 31st. It was years ago; I was living in an apartment complex in LA with my family, trying to get the ears right on my daughter's bunny costume. It was the afternoon of Halloween and this was when a young Japanese couple from Tokyo moved in down the hall from us. The wife did not speak English, I did not speak Japanese. We smiled and waved as they brought moving boxes up the stairs and into their new apartment. And then at 6PM the trick or treaters came. Now, I was ready for this because I happen to believe that Halloween is one holiday when I can buy as many bags of miniature Snickers bars as I can carry and feel no guilt. I ask myself, What if hundreds of children come to my door? I wouldn't want them to be disappointed. I think this while I tear open candy bar after candy bar with my teeth and fade into glossy-eyed sugar shock. But on this particular evening, the fact that I had too much candy was significant. Because at 6:30 a very distraught and frightened Japanese woman was knocking at my door, looking as though America was not at all what she'd expected. She was surrounded by costumed children holding out bags. "Throw chocolate at them," I hollered and gave her a bag. Unfortunately, she was too generous and dispensed handfuls of candy, not the usual one to two pieces per kid. I got another bag, and another. Finally I found myself doing something one would never do today since all treats need to be wrapped — I cut pound cake into bite sized pieces and gave them to my new neighbor who put them on napkins and handed them, with shaking hands, to ghouls, goblins, and assorted fairy princesses. When the kids stopped coming she leaned against the wall. I said, "Welcome to America. It's not always like this."
We became very good friends over the next months, our kids played wonderfully together, but whenever the doorbell rang, she always looked nervous. We lost touch when my family and I moved to the east coast, but I can't look at a Snickers bag without thinking of her. I bought a few extra at the store in her honor…and, you know, just in case.