Wednesday, November 04, 2009


This Halloween had a different vibe to it. In the weeks leading up to the event, I anticipated waves and waves of trick-or-treaters swarming for hours and hours through the streets in search of free candy and sartorial trickery.

The knowledge that the observance was to fall on a Saturday was instrumental in the assumptions that I and probably every seller of candy and/ or costumes held this year. How could it NOT be huge?

Well, the spooky economy might have had something to do with it. I know it did around our house, since my economy got involuntarily collapsed. But I think other people may have held back a little, too.

Saturday evening, as the sun began to set, a couple of little grandkids escaped their custodians and bolted to our door. They hollered the requisite "TRICKERTREET" and got the desired result.

My youngest and her little buddy from down the street awaited a call from some friends who were going to go "somewhere" to trickrtreet, with "somebody" and would be back "sometime". Not the kind or amount of information to make an informed decision about your high school freshman's night out. They decided to opt out after the concerned parents (us) conferred with one another about the situation.

Instead, I made the short, two-block loop with my girl, her friend, her parents and three year-old sister. The two older girls didn't even participate in the "gimme"; they just escorted the little cutie to her destinations. That got old after the spookhouse with live (chainless) chainsaws with their metallic whines and blue smoke filling the street. The little one was a bit put off by the hubbub and everyone agreed it was time to head back home. No protests from anyone, so back we trudged, relieved to be done before eight.

The night was beautiful though, clear and cool with a giant full moon, and I sat on my neighbor's tailgate with him and passed out his candy while my girl and her sidekick distributed our offerings. As us old guys (he's older than me, thankyouverymuch) analyzed the situation, the tides of beggars ebbed and flowed on our street.

There was the usual parade of little kids imported from other neighborhoods wearing store-bought transformer costumes, witches, fairies, ninja turtles and myriad other standard off the rack costumes. There were also some original assorted zombies and convicts and axe murderers. Nothing unusual, except for the odd collection of adults, completely un-costumed carrying pillow cases and tromping up unapologetically for a handout of free candy. I have seen one of them before, a (probably former) Walmart employee, along with a scruffy 20-something kid with a scraggly beard, and an old man, a real, live old man, looking to be in his late 60's at least sporting a fairly long, gray beard. He was a wizened little character and looked fairly hard-pressed to keep up with his companions (or captors). Maybe they were stepping up their efforts because there was a high number of houses with their porch lights off.

Most of the activity lasted only until about nine, at which time the Suburbans and Tahoes started collecting their cargo and blasting out of our subdivision at top speed. There still being a scattered few die-hard candy-addled children wandering the streets and I was compelled by my geezerness to step out into the street and yell at the speeding SUVs with scowling dads at the helm. I guess the sight of a large man glowering at them from the middle of the quiet suburban street, impeding their hasty exit ruined their evening. I can only hope the thought of killing a small goblin would have done more psychic damage than my visage, but who knows.

Between the episodes of two tons of roaring metal and "guests", my neighbor reminisced about a particular Halloween night many years ago and a trick he and some other ne'r-do-wells that he hung out with had perpetuated. Being country boys out in the country, he and his cohorts decided to dismantle an old guy's wagon and reassemble it up on said old guy's barn roof. With much effort, they accomplished the task, and upon their descent to terra firma, were surprised by the farmer sitting on his porch rocking chair, 12 gauge across his knees. He casually intoned, "OK boys, you've had your fun, now put it back, and don't break it." They obliged, and I suppose that all of the surviving members of that outing were relating it as well on this past Saturday night.

The strangest epilogue to this year's gimmefest came on Sunday morning as we were eating breakfast getting ready for church. The doorbell rang, and after exchanging puzzled glances with the family, I went to answer the call. When I opened the door, a small Spiderman stood with his hood off and upstretched to me as he said "trick or treat". The mask hung heavy with candy as his older sister, herself perhaps ten, stood nearby nonchalantly. I put the candy in his makeshift swag bag, and then handed some to the girl. She casually dropped it in his hood/bag and chirped, "Thankyou..." as they retreated to the next house. I am sure every door held the same looks of shock and stunnitude that I had exhibited.

This year beats all I ever seen on Halloween.


DammitWomann said...

It seems that trick 'r treating was slow everywhere. Here in SoKal, I had a total of 5, which included one baby. Disappointing to say the least.

You, at least, got to hang out with neighbor friends.

Love the Sunday morning kid though. That is chutzpuh......

aA said...

I think he might have been sick or something on H-night and whined so much about it that his parents said, "Well then just go on out there now and try and score some candy, if not then just button yer lip!"

H refused to be a victim.

innominatus said...

Exactly zero at my place. The place to score big candy is the retirement homes. When I was a kid, we'd drop in and hang out with the residents and make some conversation for a few minutes and next thing ya know your pillowcase is getting pretty full.