_The Nature Center has a "spooky nature trail" winding through the woods on the nights before Halloween. The path is poorly lit with a hundred jack-o-lanterns flickering. Because most people find a nighttime walk through the dark, windy woods scary enough, they were going with a fairytale theme this year. Monica had volunteered us all to play our roles. Porter, in my old gray Swiss army cape, was off in the Peter Pan area as one of the Lost Boys. Monica was roaming the trail as Tiger Lily, relighting candles that had guttered out. Nico, undaunted by any gender-bent nonsense, was Little Red Riding Hood. And I found myself encased in a wolf costume.
Nico would skip up the trail in his red hood and cape. Then as people passed me, I'd shamble out of the darkness and ask in my gravelly wolf-voice, "Have you seen a small child . . . in a . . . red riding hood?" Often, I would add, "She smells delicious," and sometimes, "and you smell delicious." And people would laugh. In the darkness it was hard to see out of the mask, but as far as I could tell, some kids would hide behind their parents, some would lecture me about not eating small children; a few would merrily betray Riding Hoods whereabouts, though there were more who would misdirect me. One growled me back into the shadows, another threatened me with her glowstick whip and two sisters demanded hugs that I couldn't refuse.
Toward the end the barred owls were hooting excitedly and Nico skipped away to explore the trail himself - eventually returning with reinforcements. So he and his fearless friends piled onto to me and ground the big bad wolf down onto the leaves of the forest.