Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Confessions of a Hander-Outer

I'm going to come out and say it: I was proud of my Halloween costume. Designed for all-day work wear, I was a princess-cut diamond ring: a black t-shirt puff-painted with a bird’s eye view of a ginormous ring, a big strand of fake pearls, and of course, a tiara. Ha. I tied with a scarecrow for Most Creative Costume at the office, you know.

It was in this regalia that I greeted our neighborhood trick-or-treaters, basket of candy in hand. Last year, in my inaugural debut as Lady with Candy, I was too nervous to properly observe this suburban ritual. I had only gone trick-or-treating once during my childhood (as an eight ball) and being on the other side of the door was a new experience for me. This year, however, I realized that there should be a few rules to this free-candy racket, at least at my house…

DO say “Trick or Treat”.
When seemingly mute children came to my door with the bags outstretched, I was half-tempted to say sweetly, “How can I help you?” so as to coerce the traditional greeting from their lips. I will allow that “Happy Halloween” is an acceptable substitute because I am all about inclusion.

DO say “Thank you”.
So, let me just go over this whole Halloween thing. Kids come to my house in costumes, rendering me unable to recognize them, so that I can give them free candy for the vague achievement of wearing something that is not their normal garb. Call me crazy, but if you thank a random guy holding open a movie theater door for you, shouldn’t you also thank the neighbor who is giving away free snacks on a fake-o holiday? In the same vein, if you’re a parent of said kid in costume, I will amend this guideline to recommend that you please strongly encourage (i.e. threateningly demand that) your kids say thank you. If you do so, it will help negate the inherent ingratitude of your little ghoul.

DO wear a costume.
What’s up with these teenagers who wear hoodies and cargos and hold out a backpack for candy? I know you’re all in it for the sweets, but come on, make an effort. I suggested to JG that, next year, we invest in those mini boxes of raisins for the kids who are clearly dodging the costume route. (And those adults, too, for that matter.) He cocked an eye at me and said, “That’s how you get egged…” Which brings me to my next guideline –

DON’T be a jerk.
In response to the egging threat, I retorted, “Isn’t that just giving in to terrorism?!” And with that, I had somehow crossed the threshold of sanity and JG didn’t press the issue. But seriously, since when does the lack of free things entitle someone to hurl eggs at someone’s house? This jerk rule isn’t confined to egging; there are other ways to exhibit jerklike behavior. For example, if you examine the (free) candy I dropped into your plastic pumpkin and give me a look like “That’s it?” Or maybe if you crane your head to sneak a peek into my basket and say, “Hey, I want a Twix!” Whatever, jerk. You can have your single Reese’s cup and enjoy it.

DON’T trick-or-treat on someone else’s behalf.
Even if your “son” can’t make it. Even if your toothless, un-costumed (see above) infant is trying his hardest to wish me a happy Halloween. If you have kids, you can afford the darn candy! One exception to this rule took form in the tiny Frankenstein in a stroller who held the bucket as his mom said “trick or treat”. Okay, you can have candy. Raisins for the rest of you, if I weren’t afraid of being egged!

DO compliment the jack o’ lanterns.
I think acknowledgement of the hard work and painstaking detail that goes into making pumpkin art this is the only way to rise above the resentment that comes from failure to comply to the above guidelines. A friendly “nice job on the pumpkins!” will go far, let me tell you.

Okay, it’s not like I didn’t have any polite, well-costumed, complimentary children at our stoop. We did have a few, including a teeny tiny little lion and a kid whose mask was disgustingly awesome with its fake-blood drip effect. I also admit that we ran out of candy (gasp of horror!) before the end of the night, forcing me to jump outside, blow out the pumpkin candles, and hop back in the house to turn off the front light. I had to avoid the eggers, after all.

Gotta love Halloween. See you next year, kids.

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