I spent about three hours today dressed for warmth and hanging out on my porch to give out candy. Mr. Gaba joined me for about an hour and a half of it, and for almost the entire three hours a neighborhood boy, Tony, sat on our porch swing and we chatted. Other neighbors stopped by and mostly it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours. Last year I ran out of candy in less than one hour so this year I over-bought, but it became clear that this October I’m on a much less popular street.
I bear no ill will to the late October beggars who come clambering up my stairs for candy, but I do expect them to at least attempt to costume themselves with more than a grocery bag in hand to identify themselves as trick-or-treaters. In one case, two boys clad in jeans, sneakers, dark sweatshirts and open jackets (it was hovering just below 50 degrees) climbed up my stairs and held out their Wal-mart bags, I asked, “So what are you supposed to be?” They stared at me, ignored my question, said, “Trick or Treat” and then failed to say thank you after I put candy in their bags. At that point I decided that any kid approaching with no sign of any costume would get one piece of candy. Kids who made an effort of any sort: face paint (one kid had his face painted black which was hard to see until he got up my stairs since it was almost the same shade as the rest of his skin), a hat or even a mask carried in their hand or worn off their face would get two. The fully clad Spiderman got four.
The other thing I noticed was the lack of imaginative costumes. They either didn’t try to dress up at all, only wore one piece of costume, or were in obviously store bought costumes that screamed “we went to a Halloween store.” There were no monochromatic kids with cone shaped paper hats and a hand drawn color label down their front and back, no cardboard robots, no fairies with tinfoil star wands, not even an assortment of bums or hobos. The closest to made-it-up-from-what-we-had-around were two boys with shoulder pads who carried helmets that appeared to be part of their pee-wee football uniforms. It is sort of sad. When I was a kid Halloween was an occasion for creativity and ingenuity; now it’s just an opportunity to get candy—costume optional. In some cases coming to the door was optional as well, as in the case of one mother holding three bags and expecting me to put treats in each, as her little ones didn’t want to get out of the warmth of the car—they also only got one piece each.
lhg edited and approved