The checkout girl started telling me Halloween jokes just after she told me a rival supermarket was selling the same two tubs of sweets for eight pounds instead of the five pounds each I’d just laid out for.
‘Why are ghosts so bad at lying?’ she said.
‘Because you can see right through them!’
‘That’s a good one.’
‘What does a witch use to keep her hair up?’
‘I don’t know. What does a …’
She didn’t give me time to think of the answer, which is fair enough. I tried to think of one I could say myself, but all I could think of was the one about the skeleton who goes into a bar and asks for a pint of beer and a mop. It didn’t feel quite right, though, and anyway, the girl was laying out the jokes faster than she was scanning the items, which was pretty damn fast, and I didn’t stand a chance. I wasn’t sure if this wasn’t something they’d been asked to do or not, but she was so enthusiastic I thought maybe she would’ve done it anyway. I got my wallet ready with the reward card and the tokens.
‘Why didn’t the skeleton go to the ball?’ she said, swiping the card.
It was one I knew, so I said ‘Because he had no body to go with!’
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘That’s right.’
She handed me back my card, and stared at the machine that printed out the receipts and vouchers, and looked so sad I felt guilty.
‘Know anymore?’ I said.
She glanced up at me, then said: ‘What does a skeleton like to eat?’
‘I don’t know.’
I pointed at her, smiled in a faux-cheesy way, and said Goulish.
‘Oh’ she said. ‘Yes. That would have been better.’
I didn’t really understand, until I’d packed the trolley and moved away, and only then did I realise that she thought I’d said Goulash.
Which would’ve been pretty slick, if I’d actually meant it.