Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson


For a time patrons collected troupes of actors rather in the way rich people of a later age collected racehorses or yachts.

We are so excellent at trick-or-treating.

We begin with dinner at the place that feels like it’s underground, despite the large windows. Pizza for B, sub for M, calzone for me. B gets root beer and, even if the world ended before trick-or-treating began, the night is an immediate success. M gets a beer and I get a glass of wine.

B and I play toc tac toe. We tie, almost every time. We watch the football game on TV and I’m surprised at how entertaining it is.

We warn B about our strong feelings against playing football. “Oh, no, no, no,” says B. “I would never play football. I would never want to get a concussion.” The things kids know these days…

When the waiter asks, “Another round of drinks?” M and I look at each other and shrug, then nod. Why not? Staring us in the face is an hour or so of wandering the adjacent neighborhood, begging for candy and trying to avoid stepping on adorable hordes of toddlers out past their bedtimes. Another drink could increase the pleasure exponentially.

B however, is concerned. “People are already out there,” he warns us. “What if we miss it?” I remember that kind of concern on Halloween nights in my own past. The suspicion that I will blink for an extra second too long and it will be over and I will have nothing to show for it.

But we don’t miss it! We pay our bill and tip extra well because all the waitstaff are in costume and then we are off. We collect the puppy from the car where, apparently, she has spent the last half hour howling, and, with only the slightest weaving, embark on our mission.

(I had wondered how it would be for B. This is the first Halloween he’s been on his own with only his parents as escorts. Usually there are at least two brothers, and often a friend or two. This year, we are a small group. But he seems to like it that way. He is fearless, stomping up porch steps and trying his best to hide behind pillars and shrubbery so he can jump out and scare the person who comes to the door. And hearing the calls of parents who are tense in their efforts to keep track of their children in the dark (“I’ve got eyes on this one, do you have eyes on that one?”) I’m not struck so much by nostalgia as I am by a sense of unfolding freedom.)

We continue. We find one haunted house hosted by the Enthusiastic Knights of Templeton (I’m sure their actual name is really very dignified) and we find a haunted porch and also a haunted back yard. The haunted back yard is tamer than usual this year. I have flashbacks of carrying two quietly hysterical children across the grass in Halloweens past. B is a brave one. He taunts back any creature who dare cast its eye his way.

We linger in front of a specific house. “Do you want the grownup treats?” calls the woman standing in the doorway, a woman with blue hair and really tall heels.

“Oh, we were just wondering if this was the house THAT…” I said.

“Yes, it is the house THAT! I bought it last year but I inherited the tradition.”

And we were invited inside her really beautiful place and served wee plastic shot glasses of… I have no clue what was in them. Something with apple in the title. It was warming.

And then we headed back toward where we’d parked because we were all a bit tired and done with wandering the streets. But first! A stop at the fire station! Where B was a huge hit with the teenage girls manning the candy table. “Taco! Taco! Over here! I need to get a picture of you!” Yes, B was a taco. A burnt taco.

And then home, where B counted 61 pieces of candy in his pillow case.

See? We are so excellent at trick-or-treating.

4 thoughts on “Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson

    1. They had an adventure – they took the bus to their grandparents’ house to experience the joy of giving out candy. Where we live? No one asks for candy. Which does not stop me from buying it every year just in case.

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