I’m feeling a little better about myself. I found a call for submissions for childrens’ stories, and ...completed something. The theme was Halloween, and I managed to squeeze a story into the 500 word limit. Lots of culling needed, but it got there.
It was a strange theme to be writing about, as it’s an American custom. Although it's been transplanted in our backyard, it hasn’t quite taken root. Some years the night of Oct 30th passes with no child doorknocking, sometimes we get one or two. One year, an American lady (who has since moved) organised all the local kids to go for a trick-or-treat. She went so far as to drop flyers in the letterboxes along our street asking people to tie a balloon to the gate on Halloween to show they were ok with a gaggle of excited children holding out their hands for sweets. She even provided the balloon!
My babies thought it was the best idea ever! Knock on the door and somebody hands you goodies that you don’t have to earn (as their
mean old witch concerned mother expects).
So what did I put in my Halloween story? It was about a child, who misunderstood the term as “trickle treating” (well, it is a steady trickle of treats), and was mocked for it and excluded from the gang's trick-or-treat outing...and her revenge!
As a child, I was convinced it was "trickle treating"! In my defence, the tradition was non-existent when I was a wee lassie, but certainly prevalent on tv. I think adults saw it as somewhat audacious, but us kids could appreciate the merit of such a pastime.
American television provided many hours of entertainment when I was a kid. I can remember a few more misunderstandings courtesy of that accent (no, I don’t have an accent, but you do!). I shall share these so that you can mock me.
The song “for he’s a jolly good fellow” ends with “and so say all of us” over here, but folks on American shows mysteriously sang about “nobody candy nigh”. Huh?
I was quite flummoxed about why girls waving pom-poms should be “chair leaders” (and why such an activity was highly sought after). What were they thinking?
However, I was anticipating one day visting that wonderful city that was built near a beach that was so wide they named the town in honour of that feature. You know the one – Sandy Ago.
Ok, maybe I should have had my ears checked.
But, grasshoppers, this was centuries before the internet could answer all conundrums at the tap of a keyboard. Even as a teen, some of the mysteries of the US persisted. In Paul Zindel’s novels, some of his delinquent MCs spent some time “hanging moons”. What such an activity might have entailed, I truly had no idea. It’s not that this pastime wasn’t indulged in around here – possibly with greater frequency than in the States – but we gave it a far more descriptive title: "flashing a brown eye".
Come on, ya gotta admit, even if you’d never heard of it, you would have gotten the gist of it straight away. However, that part of the vernacular seems to have since disappeared, probably due in no small way to young Bart Simpson.
I'm not the first to complain about the Americanisation of global cultures, and prob wont be the last. But, hey, if I get paid for a story about Halloween, I won’t be carrying on like I’ve got a ‘roo loose in the top paddock.