When I bought my house, the realtor told me to stock up on candy. She said the next street over really went all out on Halloween. “Stock up on candy” turned out to be code for, “Cash out your 401K and hire a former Army Supply Sergeant to coordinate candy distribution logistics.” My new neighborhood turned out to be Ground Zero for trick or treating. I don’t know what drives a person to take the time, effort and expense to stage a full horror show complete with severed limbs and Zombies in his front yard. Let’s face it, people who go turbocharged nuts for Halloween are a little off. They’re whacked. A piece of their brain is missing. And the odds of a dozen of these people end up living on the same block is astronomical. Think DNA identification testing error. Of course, what probably happened is that one weirdo moved in and then infected his neighbors. His neighbors being people who happened to lack self-esteem and might otherwise have gone off camping with a Jimmy Jones type in Guyana who promised a refreshing Kool-Aid spritzer after they got the tents set up.
We have kids who live in the neighborhood. But we don’t have two million kids. Parents actually bus these rascals in. Beginning just before dusk, a convoy of 1986 Dodge Caravans driven by chain-smoking moms in moo-moos arrive and unload their precious cargo of running noses. This year, Halloween nearly killed me. I had been nursing a lower back strain and getting up and down every 30 to 90 seconds was really aggravating it. To make matters worse, and yes it shames me to say this, I had recorded an episode of Nashville that I was trying to watch. (Don’t judge me – you’re no better!) It took me an hour to get through the first ten minutes of the program. The interruptions were incessant. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to follow an episode of Nashville, but I was losing track.
Earlier in the evening, a friend of mine who I’ll refer to as “Tim,” because his name is Tim, posted the following warning on his Facebook page: “Any child caught trespassing on my lawn tonight will be shackled, beaten and hung from the basketball hoop in my driveway!” I found it more than honorable of Tim to broadcast fair warning via the worldwide web, though I paused to wonder what percentage of five to eleven year olds were likely to check their Facebook updates given their near total insane focus of collecting as much free candy as possible prior to their mother calling “time” from the Caravan. Tim later added the comment that next year he planned to install strategically placed punji stick pits throughout his front yard.
Now that another festive Halloween has passed, let me offer a few brief guidelines for next year’s celebration:
- Wear a costume. I’m happy to hand out candy to anyone between the ages of fetus and 110, but wear a costume. “I’m a babysitter. I’m babysitting these other kids.” No.
- Open your bag. I’m handing out free candy here folks. I’m not your manservant or your valet. Don’t just stick you bag out; open it up.
- If you’re an adult in street clothes accompanying a child, don’t stick out a bag after I’ve put candy in your kid’s bag. There are two kinds of pathetic. There is regular pathetic, and then there’s the overweight adult with no costume begging for candy pathetic. (Listen to me here, folks. These are nuggets.)
- If you’re trick or treating in Tim’s neighborhood, you might consider staying on the walkways. On this note, I have something shameful to confess. When Tim recently posted a question on Facebook asking where he could purchase dry bamboo to make punji sticks, my “buy local and sustainable” instincts kicked in, and I suggested that straight-grained Douglas fir should work just as effectively.
Well, I need to go now. One of the Dodge Caravans broke down in my driveway last night, and I told the owner I would jumpstart her battery.
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