The kids went out with Berta for Halloween last night, two of them all dressed up. Abby wore a mermaid outfit (rather than the Abby-sized peasant outfit we spent too much money on at the Renaissance fair) and Berta wore her peasant outfit. No… Riley refused to wear his knight’s plastic armor, shield, and sword, so he toddled around with them wearing just the gray sweatsuit I bought to put on under it.

While they were off collecting candy from our neighbors, I was doling it out myself to our neighbors’ kids. The kids started coming early - around 5:30pm. One of our neighbors from up in the cul de sac came by with a retinue of kids from that end of our street. He reiterated what another neighbor had told me a few weeks ago.

Most of the residents of our street apparently congregate at the cul de sac to hand out candy, rather than giving out candy from their houses. In this way, they can save the kids the trouble of trudging to each house, but it’s really just an excuse to gather and be social.

So after a few neighbors popped by with their kids, telling me to head up with a lawn chair to the cul de sac, I bowed to pressure and lugged my zero-G chair from the family room up to the patch of shrubbery at the other end of the street, and sunk into my typical quasi-social mode - the one where I don’t feel like I fit in and am not quite sure how to act.

A bunch of folks were already there, handing out candy from bowls. I took up a spot at the end of the line and quietly participated. It was pleasant. My neighbors are great. Even if I don’t yet feel like I fit in any of the cliques that have formed between them over the years, it’s nice to know that I won’t see their car up on blocks with the stereo cranking out Tupac.

After sitting for a while watching the kids go by, it occurred to me that I’m not really a partygoer. I’m not a bar or club person, and never have been. I somehow missed that. I know that some of my friends did (and still do) this sort of thing, but I never really joined them.

As a result, I think I’m somewhat inept at the process of making new friends this way. I’m much better one-on-one, I think. I don’t do especially well at all when there isn’t someone in the group already that I know.

I thought back to parties that I have been to. I always had a great time at Chris’ parties, but I already knew a lot of people at those. There were sad few of those parties, anyway.

Even prior Halloween parties have proven my social ineptitude. When we moved into our first apartment, the people across the way were a couple only slightly older than us. They invited us over for their Halloween party, and said casually to bring something if we wanted to. So we didn’t bring food or wine or beer - we brought a book of gothic horror stories. I’m thoroughly mortified to admit this, thinking back on it.

And who has the idea to bring jalapeno corn bread to a Christmas party? I mean, did I even think about these stupid things when I did them?

Its odd to think that I used to consider some people I knew as social nitwits, but it turns out that I’m not much better, if at all. Worse is that I’m not sure how to overcome it. Not being ignorant of my deficiency has certainly left me with less bliss.

I guess I survived through these things. It’s a wonder I have been invited back for anything. And it’s funny how at the time, I was more concerned about having fun and assuming I would be accepted for who I was than now, where I care a less about the fun and a lot more about being acceptable. Curious.

Berta came up to the cul de sac with the kids after they were done trick-or-treating. Abby had to empty her candy bucket thing into the stroller basket during the outing so that she could continue. That’s a lot of candy. It’s only going to grow as she gets older and gains the stamina to hit more houses.

After a while it got cold (stupid me didn’t bring a jacket, and if I went down to the house, I knew I wasn’t coming back) and Berta took the kids home. I stuck it out until trick-or-treat was officially over, and made it out with only six pieces of candy remaining. This is an admirable accomplishment, I’m sure you’ll agree. Although I suspect that one of the neighbor kids took all of the remaining chocolate from my bowl and added it to his stash while nobody was looking.

Around 8pm, I left the still strong group of neighbors, grabbed my chair and hoofed it back home, where Berta and the kids were still in costume. We put in the DVD of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and ate some popcorn before the kids went off to bed – sugar-high insomnia averted.