when i was a freshman and sophomore in high school, my friend tom and i would turn his parents' house upside down at halloween so we could have a halloween party. their house was great for it: a big stone house built in the 20s or 30s with a finished basement. the house is on a hill (like much of my hometown) and faces directly onto its street; the yard is terraced below street level, first at eight feet, then another six feet or so as the yard reaches behind the house. because of this, the house seems taller than it is wide; there's a stone balcony over the front porch, and lots of other features that can be turned to nefarious purpose. for one of those reasons you never think about as kids, the door that got the most use was the kitchen door, set to the side of the house down a narrow, covered walkway; we would panel that walkway with big black plastic tarps, draped with artificial cobwebs and ghostly artifice. once inside, partygoers were led to the basement stairs, also covered in black plastic; ethereal music (who knows what we played; i can say with authority it wasn't "the monster mash") and scary lighting effects kept them appropriately enthralled. we had remote-controlled skeletons, speakers with odd sound effects, and used dry ice to good effect. tom's mom made dastardly treats; we bobbed for apples; girls giggled and were shy; boys brooded and were shy. i was walking around the pond tonight, with the wind blowing and the stars seeming brighter above because of the sudden chill; the road around the pond took me along the route i used go to tom's house, and it made me think about those occasions twenty-odd years ago. of course i never realized how fortunate we all were at the time, but in retrospect, how fucking perfect.