Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween. It's that great American holiday where you get to dress like an idiot and bribe people to give you candy, as opposed to Easter, that great American holiday where you have to dress nice and you get candy for doing nothing, or Christmas, where it's just candy for a month and no one really cares what you wear.

It's all princesses and carnivores here in the cul-de-sac, though I did see a Transformer earlier this morning on his way to school. The Little Ditchman is going as Jasmine from Aladdin, (or, as she pronounces it, "Jazz-man" which paints an image of a different costume entirely.) We have a joke routine. I say, "What a beautiful Mulan costume!" and she gets all worked up, "No, Dad. I'm Jazz-man!" And then I say, "From Beauty and the Beast?" And she says, "No, Dad. I'm Jazz-man from Aladdin!" And then I rattle off all the princesses while she giggles and stamps her feet, "Jazz-man!" And then I turn to the Little Digger, who is dressed as a tiger, or, according to the Little Ditchman, like Rajah, Jasmine's palace tiger from Aladdin, and I say, "What a great Lion King costume!" I'm hilarious. It drives her nuts, but she can laugh about it now, and has learned that I'm joking.

If you have a stubborn, strong-willed, control-freak little 3-year-old like I do, you need to keep turning the world upside-down so that they gain a sense of humor. Otherwise, they'll never get used to the fact that the world will never fit into their nicely lined-up, organized little boxes. Oy. It's a tough lesson. I know people my age who are still trying to cram that square peg into the round hole. But that's the thing about life: there are no round pegs. One supposes you have to make them. By dulling out the edges of the square ones.

I don't have a costume chosen, though the kid wants me to go as "a batman." It's always a batman, as if there were a society of batmen in some distant underworld, waging their war on crime as a whole nation of batmen are want to do. But I don't have a batman costume.

I have narrowed it down to two super-cool costumes, however, taken from today's news. I could be Earnest Shackleton, famed turn-of-the-century polar explorer whose ship was stranded in Antarctica and smashed by ice, but who led his entire crew to safety in an incredible tale of daring and leadership. His abandoned whiskey was recently uncovered in an Antarctic shack. Fascinating.

More on the scary side is Fritz Darges, the last surviving member of Hitler's inner circle who died the other day at age 96. He wrote a memoir that was to be published after his death, so World War II historians are eager to check it out. He tells a great story about Hitler:

During a strategy conference, a fly began buzzing around the room, landing on Hitler's shoulder and on the surface of a map several times.

Irritated, Hitler ordered Darges to "dispatch the nuisance". Darges suggested whimsically that, as it was an "airborne pest" the job should go to the Luftwaffe [Air Force] adjutant, Nicolaus von Below.

Enraged, Hitler dismissed Darges on the spot. "You're for the eastern front!" he yelled. And so he was sent into combat.

They would both be great costumes, as would The Fly That Enraged Hitler, title of my new book. (Who knew that Hitler and I had such common feelings for the loathesome creatures?) Anyway, I suspect I'll just wear my old Lost Dharma coveralls, which are supremely comfortable. It should be fun. We'll carve pumpkins, eat candy, dress silly, as it all should be. What a holiday.

I hope you find yourself doing the same and loving it.

Ernest Shackleton's whiskey, still on ice.