On All Hallow's Eve, our family gathered in the kitchen as Atticus divided his attention between the beef stew on the stove and two jack-o-lanterns-in-progress on the table. I was washing dishes, and the conversation meandered this way:
We talked about pumpkins: roasting the seeds, jack-o-lantern styles, how the carving session had gone at the parish youth group, the ickiness of pumpkin innards ... all the usual stuff. Once the carving ritual was done, so was Ramona. She wandered off.
I then told Atticus a great story from the Christopher Hitchens' memoir I'm reading. In a footnote, Hitchens mentions having dinner at a greasy diner with William Styron (dinner with Styron is a footnote? Oh, what a quiet life I lead. My footnotes involve crock pots and dirty socks, though not in the same footnote.) Hitchens was making a point about debilitating depression and suicide. The side story involved a young waiter who told the diner patron, upon seeing his credit card, that he had a name much like a famous writer named William Stryon. Both Hitchens and Styron remained silent until the waiter casually noted that Darkness Visible had saved his life, at which point he was invited to join them and tell his story. (Presumably he was also eventually corrected regarding his hero's name.)
This led Anne and Betsy to ask about what Styron has written. Atticus detailed some of his many works, and we talked Sophie's Choice a bit, though I told the girls I didn't really want to ruin their feast day vigil with a full explanation of the plot. Anne then threw in that J.K. Rowling had created the Dementors based on her own depression. Betsy then urged me to read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which she just finished, and Anne reminisced that Yellow Star had been one of her favorites a few years ago.
By then, Ramona was back and it was time to put our dinner-and-a-movie plans into action with It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Of course, poor Chuck suffers from his own kind of depression, but we had a charming time -- snuggled up on the couch, savoring Atticus' warming stew, thankful there were no rocks in our candy bags.
A couple of theater experiences lately: The girls all thoroughly enjoyed a local high school production of Beauty and the Beast over the weekend. And on Monday, we watched a traveling troupe perform a version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Our review? Let's just say that if I were a snarkily hilarious blogger, I'd have three days' worth of material.
Speaking of theater, I'm co-directing our parish's youth choir musical again. The choir director
Last night I told Atticus, "Y'know those little Butterfinger bars that were left over? They're almost gone."
He was stunned. "How is that possible?"
"It's possible," I replied, "because you live with me." Sheesh. You'd think the man would know me better after 30 Halloweens.
* Thanks to my friend and fellow theater critic for reminding me recently about Waiting for Guffman. Need. To. Rent.