Sunday, November 2, 2014

Who Ruined Halloween?

I have awesome weather powers.

Some days I get a longing for a one of my favorite creamy soups. Nah, the weather's too warm, I think. But I defiantly write it on the menu for, say, Tuesday, and by Tuesday, a cold rain blows through town and everybody is glad to sit down to soup.

A little soup weather on Halloween this year would have been welcome. What we got instead was pure nastiness. We got the kind of wind that crawls down your neck and makes you sorry you have to walk across the Kroger parking lot. We got little trick-or-treaters, their arms shaking as they stood on the doorstep, holding out their open pillow cases. We got their little faces pinched up with misery. We got a battle with the storm door, the wind shoving it against us while we serviced the brave and determined hordes that wanted their candy. 

I might be to blame for this unwelcome blast of January-in-October. Perhaps I brought it on by reading Alice Munro's short story collection, Too Much Happiness.  She sets her tales in her native Canada. So while I innocently read about somebody named Joyce driving home from work through falling snow and lashing rain, or somebody named Roy getting stuck in the woods while the snow covers his tracks, storm clouds gathered over Bye-Bye Nesquik's neighborhood and spoiled the evening of a few hundred Power Rangers, Ellas and zombies.

I apologize.

But Munro is the Meryl Streep of short-story writing. Nearly everything she creates possesses a truffle-like perfection. She makes it look easy when it most certainly is not.

Her characters ride a bus to visit somebody in prison, or share a dorm room with someone of mysterious means, or hide from the outcast that wants to be their friend. They are quiet, often bookish people, who watch bolder types get away with things.

However in one story--I won't give away which--one of these quiet ones strikes back.

It reminds me of the instructions I once read in a tourist guide: cities have muggers, it said. The smart thing to do is carry a mugger wallet. Your real wallet holds your wad of cash, your complete deck of credit cards. The mugger wallet contains ten dollar bill, and maybe one of those fake paper cards, just as a nice touch.

The mugger approaches. You take out your mugger wallet, throw it hard and far, then run fast in the opposite direction. I have no idea if this works, but it was comforting to pack it along, even if it could cost me ten bucks.

Anyway, Munro's character, the one I won't give away, sticks up for him/herself with a mugger-wallet mentality.

Book contains one lengthy cow patty.

I'll be done with Munro's collection tomorrow and then maybe this unseasonable weather will ease up.

As a failsafe, I added Taco Crescent Bake to the menu, a yummy supper dish that goes great with a crisp fall evening, do you hear me, o weather gods?  No need to deliver us a stinging, howling, Arctic whiteout.

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