I got home from work around 5:30 and it was nice out so Duncan and I went for our evening walk. We like to go to the college campus near our house because there's plenty of room to run off leash there and because Duncan is something of a celebrity among the college students.
Usually the place is pretty quiet during our evening walks. But for some reason it was Grand Central Station tonight.
I don't know what was going on at that place. Everyone in the greater Salt Lake area was there. People were taking family photos next to red brick buildings. Hipsters were slacklining between sips of overpriced lattes. All of your grandmas were doing yoga in the quad.
This was a little annoying because there weren't really any places for Duncan and me to play "throw the ball" which is different than fetch and I don't know how but Duncan insists that it is.
We finally settled on a little grassy area. And that's when we were approached by the four strangest children I've ever met.
They must have been about eight years old. Or twelve. Or six. I don't really know. The thing about not having children is that it's really difficult to have a reference point for kids' ages. They might have been 22. Maybe they were college students.
The point is, they were odd.
All boys. All more talkative to an adult man than I have ever been in my entire life. All very interested in Duncan.
They approached because they wanted to see Duncan more closely, an impulse I understand entirely.
So I invited them to come pet him. They did. And then they proceeded to talk my ear off for the next 12 minutes.
One of them repeatedly assured me that they weren't brothers, but they were friends. Another of them bragged that their moms told them they could go out on their own and walk around the neighborhood. Another insisted that I tell him my exact address, including zip code, and additionally wanted to know if I could remember the addresses, including zip codes, of all of the other places I've ever lived in my life.
Eli: Yeah, I live at 743 Mind Your Own Damn Business Lane!
Ok, I didn't say that. I did tell them what street I live on, prompting the oddest of the bunch to inform me that he lives on that same street. He described his house, one that I thought I knew.
Eli: I think I've met your parents.
Boy: Oh. That's nice. They don't like any of our neighbors.
Eli: I'm going to ignore that. So, are you guys going trick-or-treating this year?
I was nervous about the question, considering that I didn't know whether these boys were 4 or 37.
Boy: Yeah. We're all going together.
My enthusiasm and hopes for turning my street into one of those Halloween neighborhoods from movies in the 90s should not be underestimated. I was so excited when I bought my house three years ago to finally live in an actual neighborhood where I could decorate my place, play spooky sounds, and rival the well-adjusted families on "best candy" for the trick-or-treaters.
I was devastated that first Halloween to discover that I was the only house on the entire block that had its lights on.
Last Halloween I waited in eager anticipation with a giant tub of candy, somehow optimistic that everything would be different in 2016, only to divvy out the lot to the four or five kids I had show up at the end of the night.
And so, hearing that children on my street, who were either 45 or fetuses, planned to trick-or-treat, I made my pitch.
Eli: YOU HAVE TO TRICK-OR-TREAT ON OUR STREET BECAUSE I GIVE SUCH GOOD CANDY TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS TELL ALL OF THEM!
My over-eagerness triggered a relatively-abrupt goodbye.
It was twenty minutes later when my mind suddenly started playing the hypothetical conversation that little boy probably had with his mother this evening.
Boy: Mom, we met a strange man who swears he knows you and he lives down the street and he wanted us to come over and pet his dog and he invited us to his house because he has really good candy so can we go?
Thank God I sold the white van.
~It Just Gets Stranger