Anyone who knows my wife will tell you that she is even-tempered, fair-minded, and emotionally generous.

As you might imagine, this isn't easy to live with.

Me, I am more of a fan of the adage: "If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit here by me." I am the sour to Jessica's sweet.

Call it balance.

The reason I bring up Jessica's maddening tendency toward insufferable kindness is that, up until recently, she has always dressed as a witch at Halloween. Not a princess. Not Cinderella. Not anything that might be seen as an extension of her basic nice self. Instead, each year, she would don a pointy black hat, paint her face green, and stand over a bubbling cauldron, stirring wickedly.
I wasn't into the theater of it all. But I must say I liked the ensemble.

Some guys like French maid's outfits. I happen to enjoy a nice witch's costume.

Her get-up was part of our overall approach to Halloween. Ours was one of those houses that took the night a little too seriously. We'd cobweb all the windows, hang plastic skulls and rubber bats from ceiling fans, and play a tape of spooky Halloween sounds - creaky doors, anguished cries, that sort of thing.

We didn't do this because we were big fans of Halloween. I, for one, never really liked costume parties. No, our immersion occurred because our son, Sam, was born the day before Halloween. Actually, about an hour and a half before Halloween. Starting early on Halloween morning, friends in costume visited, transforming our hospital room, already aglow with the magic of new birth, into a giddy wonderland of baseball players, fairies, ballerinas, and fantastic monsters. One couple brought a pumpkin with the words IT'S A BOY carved into it, which we lit and let shine in our window for the whole world to see.

Sam must have thought he was born into a Frank Zappa song.