It’s Hallowe’en. Soon the doorbell will start ringing, the parade of neighbourhood goblins and ghoulies will begin, and, the few times when I can’t persuade The First Husband to answer the door, I’ll smile and smile, and ooh and aah at the costumes. And hope they’ll soon stop, because I really hate Hallowe’en.
When I was a kid, growing up in Ireland, Hallowe’en was so simple. We dressed up in our parents’ clothes, little girls wearing lots of lipstick and boys sporting moustaches made with burnt cork, and trotted around the neighbourhood – which in our case was a square of houses built around a park – crying “Help the Hallowe’en party!” In my mind’s ear I can still hear the high heels clacking along the footpath, and the occasional cry as some kid tripped over long skirts or trousers. Mostly, we would be given apples and nuts – lots and lots of peanuts, or monkey nuts, as we called them. Hard to believe, but we preferred monkey nuts over sweets (candies) because Hallowe’en was the only time of year we saw such exotica.
At home, there would be barm brack for tea (this was in the days when we had dinner at midday and tea, or supper, around 5.30 in the evening.) Barm brack is a kind of yeast bread, made with dried fruits soaked overnight in weak tea, and there were various small objects wrapped in squares of greased paper and hidden in the cake during the baking. If memory serves, there was a pea, a ring, a stick, a rag, and a small coin – threepence or sometimes even sixpence, if The Mother was feeling generous, roughly equivalent to a dime or nickel. If you got the pea, there was no marriage in your future; the ring meant you’d be trotting down the aisle in no time. The stick foretold an unhappy marriage, while the rag symbolised poverty and the coin meant good fortune.
I’ve no idea if Hallowe’en still follows the old traditions in Ireland today. I suspect not; ever since ET, everybody wants to go trick or treating in the American style, dressed in costumes bought specially for the occasion. And I doubt many working mothers have the time or patience to make barm brack anymore.
As luck would have it, I came to Canada, three year old son in tow, in the Fall of 1987, and it seemed like no time at all before he knew all about Hallowe’en and was excitedly planning his costume. I still remember the sinking in my stomach, as I stood on a neighbour’s drive, and watched his eager little face turned up to the opening door, pillow case thrust forward, as he piped “Trick or Treat!!” I wanted to snatch him up and run home, because all I could see were the scruffy little tinker kids who used to come to my door, back in Ireland, begging for money while their parents lurked in a van down the street, if you were lucky, or broke into your kitchen and rifled your purse while the child kept you busy at the front of the house, if you were not.
It was one of those seminal moments, that harden in your gut and affect how you deal with something from then on. I never did reconcile to going out on Hallowe’en, although I continued doing so for my son’s sake for another few years. As soon as I could, I passed trick or treating duties off onto his father, and stayed home with the lights off and a bottle of wine handy. Today, Number One Son is long grown up and who knows what he’ll be up to for Hallowe’en. Because we live in a small neighbourhood, I’ll do my duty and pass out candies to the little ones who live close by. But as soon as they’re done, before the teenagers start coming around, the lights will be off and the bottle of wine will see some real action, especially since it’s Friday.
Sanchez: I just need to parse this out as best I can from you, Michael. The fact that John McCain’s organization gave $448,000 to this group that was founded by Mr. Khalidiâ€”is there no reason for some to be critical of that as well, just as some might be critical of Barack Obama for being at a meeting with some girl who read a poem, for example?
Goldfarb: Look, you’re missing the point again, Rick. The point is that Barack Obama has a long track record of being around anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American rhetoric.
Sanchez: Can you name one other person besides Khalidi who he hangs around with who is anti-Semitic?
Goldfarb: Yeah, he pals around with, with William Ayers, who is [crosstalk] a domestic terrorist.
Sanchez: William Ayers is notâ€” No, no, Iâ€” The question I asked you is: Can you name one other person that he hangs around with who’s anti-Semitic, because that’s what you said.
Goldfarb: Look, we all know that there are people who Barack Obama has been in hot waterâ€”
Sanchez: Michael, I asked you name one person. One!
Sanchez: You said he hangs around with people who are anti-Semitic! Youâ€”okay, we got Khalidi on the table; give me number two. Who’s the other anti-Semitic person that he hangs around with that we, quote, all know about?
Goldfarb: Rick, we both know who number two is.
Sanchez: Would you tell us?
Goldfarb: No, Rick. I think we all know who we’re talking about here.
Sanchez: Somebody who’s anti-Semitic that he hangs around with?
Sanchez: Well, say it!
Goldfarb: I think we know who we’re talking about, Rick.
Sanchez: All right. Again, you charged that Khalidi is anti-Semitic; he would say that his policies on Israel differ from those of Barack Obama and many other people, but, either way, I guess we’ll have to leave it at that. Michael Goldfarb, thanks so much. We really do appreciate it; this is a good discussion. We really do appreciate your coming here to talk to us.
Goldfarb: Thank you, Rick.
(Thank you to Shakesville for the transcript.)
So, here’s what I don’t understand. Goldfarb is obviously a dickwad of the finest water. He refuses to answer the question being put to him. He treats Sanchez like he’s a moron. And yet, Sanchez still closes by thanking the guy and praising the quality of the discussion they just had. IS HE NUTS????? In my world – that elusive shangri-la where people say what they mean and mean what they say – the interview would have ended along the lines of “Goldfarb, you’re a fucking weasel. Get out of here, and never darken the doors of a CNN studio again!”
Another snorter from the Obama campaign.
My friend Irene forwarded this riveting article from Rolling Stone magazine.
This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.
Great. Just what the United States needs. Another scion of privilege working out his object relationships in the White House!
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower.” Albert Camus
My beloved Opus is about to waddle off into the sunset. It’s enough to make a grown woman cry. Sob.