Words & Banter

RED & BLACK ... Treat & Trick

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I can't believe that Halloween's almost here, and the house isn't already decorated. Can I use the fact this is the first year I'm an empty nester as an excuse?


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Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?


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No! But without Sawyer home asking about it or prodding me by pulling the decorations out of the garage, it's still just sitting on my "to do" list. But fall is my favorite time of year, and I love seeing the house with all the Halloween decorations, so it will happen.


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I would think you could just put out the inflatables and be done with it.


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They're probably my favorite decorations, regardless of the holiday. And not just because I like seeing them out the window of my workroom but because I get to watch all the little kids in the neighborhood walk by and enjoy them.


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Well, I hope this year Halloween will be a little more "normal" in terms of trick-or-treating, especially as the CDC has issued guidelines to make it less scary.


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I think that the coronavirus has genuinely been the scariest thing to appear in our lives. Full stop. And while I'm not making light of the tragic loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, I can't help but wonder if we're going to see Halloween "COVID" costumes since there seem to be costumes of almost everything else that's considered scary.


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FYI, there is a shortage of store-bought costumes (and decorations) due to pandemic-related shipping delays, so there is no telling what you will see. Hopefully, this year's trick-or-treaters will include lots of kids dressed up as front-line workers as they are the true superheroes. Not to mention, the costumes would then include masks that are functional as well as decorative.


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Do you have to look at Halloween pragmatically? And does that mean I'm about to get a lecture on how Halloween's big business?


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No, my "treat" to you is I will not tell you how it is a $10 billion industry that did not take as big a hit in 2020 as you would have expected.


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Yeah, except you just managed to tell it to me anyway. So, I guess that falls under the "trick" category.


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That is merely semantics. Sometimes we "package" things to make them more palatable for the recipient. But, some people take it to an extreme and disguise who they really are … but, I do not want to make this a conversation about politicians and the "costumes" they often wear.


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Please don't! Although I know you've occasionally "pretended" to be me.


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Except, whenever I try to do "warm and fuzzy", I have a hard time keeping a straight face. And, being "nice" can be a challenge, not to mention time-consuming. I remember when we taught at KIPP and its motto at the time was, "Work Hard. Be Nice." and I asked if I could just "Work Hard. Be Fair."


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Of course, you did. But I can think of a few times when you've been in situations where I thought you were going to take a stand, yet you used my "default" setting of conflict avoidance. It was very out of character. And more than a little scary.


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You pick your battles. Keeping in mind that some things are not worth the time and effort. Or, need to be saved for another day.


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Are you saying that you give them the "treat" of letting it go when in reality you are "tricking" them into a feeling of complacency?


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I guess that is one way of looking at it, but only if you are trying to give it a Halloween spin. At the risk of "tricking you" into talking about marketing, do you remember years ago when we worked with Rob (an advertising creative executive director), and he told us how he could envision little kids one day dressing up as the characters Red and Black?


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I had forgotten about that! At first, I thought he was kidding around or being sarcastic until he clarified that he was serious. Explaining how he could see kids pairing up with each other, pretending to be us. Obviously, the one pretending to be me would be sweet and nice, and the other would be … well, you!


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Actually, I think he was focused on the differences in our appearances. Regardless, I think it was crazy. Although the costumes would be easy – mine could be high heels, tattered jeans, white top, black jacket, and a wig with short, black, spiked hair.


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I guess that means my "costume" would be something boring and "mom-like". But even with a wig of long red hair and comfy shoes, I'm not sure any kid would choose to "be Red".


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Yes, but what is that old axiom about you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar? Maybe the trick-or-treating "Reds" would be rewarded with more candy …

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Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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