The soloist

He came down the driveway at the tail end of one of the few large groups we saw last night. We were sitting in folding chairs just inside the open garage, staying out of the drizzle and issuing warnings to the kids who made their way down our sloping and slippery driveway. We were having fun, chatting and reminiscing about our own kids’ past trick-or-treat excursions, and occasionally nipping a small piece of candy from the big bowl.

We took turns bringing the bowl out to meet them, usually telling them to help themselves to a handful, as a lot of our treats were smaller pieces — I apparently bought the wrong kind of mixed bags this year. He trailed the group and approached us quietly as the rest made their way back up to the street.

He was probably 14 or 15, dressed in slacks with a short-sleeved shirt and tie. I thought he might be going as Dahmer, then realized he wasn’t wearing glasses. He reached with trepidation into the bowl and drew out a single Reese’s Miniature, dropping it into his bag and avoiding eye contact as he mumbled an awkward “Thank you.” He left so quickly that I missed the opportunity to tell him he could take more, and felt bad about it.

After he was out of earshot, we tried to determine what his costume was. It may well have not been intended to be anything — just a kid dressing up out of his normal style. As we whispered, we noticed him crossing the street and shuffling back in the direction from which he’d come — and the opposite direction from the larger group. We turned to each other with wide eyes, not needing to say what we’d realized at the same time — this kid was alone.

Which is fine in one sense, as he was clearly old enough to not need adult supervision. But on the other hand, he had no peers. Both of us began to imagine and discuss various potential scenarios as the evening took a melancholy turn. Did he have friends? Was he differently abled? Was he lonely? Was he safe? Was he just wanting to get one last haul before he became “too old” for it? Why didn’t he follow the group to the rest of the houses on our street?

We still don’t know the answers. It’s none of our business; it’s just that we felt his solitude so personally that we wanted to understand it. We talked about it a little longer before agreeing that we hoped he got a lot of candy, had a fun night, and has a lot of friends.

Enjoy your Reese’s Miniature, wherever you are, well-dressed kid. And have a fantastic life.

About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at; thanks!
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