Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I’ve had to work for the past 8,000 Halloweens in a row, so I’m quite excited to have this coming Wednesday off. Unlike years past, I won’t be heading out to any cool parties or watching a parade of oddballs on some main street. Instead, I’ll be taking the guys to a few homes for Trick or Treating, then staying at home to hand out candy.

And it is here where I feel I must address the declining standards among our children today. And when I say “our children,” I’m actually talking about “your children.” The last time I handed out candy on Halloween, I was appalled at how many kids were completely ignorant of Tick or Treat etiquette.

If you’re a kid, Halloween has to be the best holiday in the world. You throw a sheet on your head, say “trick or treat,” and collect your loot. You’ll never find a better deal than that. One year when I was about 11, a friend and I spent a few days mapping out neighborhoods and devising strategy or maximum candy intake. By the time the night was over, we had each hauled in something like 18 pounds of candy. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

But the entitled youth of today view candy as a right, not a privilege. What else can explain the scene that confronted me the last time I handed out candy on Halloween? It was about 7 years ago and I still lived in Los Angeles. On that day, scores of kids came to our door dressed in jeans and t-shirts and just stared at me.

“Yes? What do you want?” I would ask.

No reply.

“Is there anything I can help you with?”

More silence.

All these kids had to do is say “trick or treat” and they were entitled to free candy. But they couldn’t even be bothered to utter three one syllable words.

The strategy worked, though. Eventually I would throw some candy at them just to make them go away. So I guess I’m enabling the little slackers.Then there is the issue of costume. While Nate will be dressing up this year as a monkey, and Will will be a lion (see photo above), not everyone is so ambitious. The vast majority of kids who came to my door last time weren’t dressed up in any way. When I would ask them what they were dressed as, I would be greeted with more silence.

When I complained about this to my roommate, she said I was being too harsh on the kids. After all, perhaps these kids were poor and didn’t have money for a costume.

Fair enough, I replied, but you can always come up with an excuse for what you’re wearing. I knew a guy who never dressed up for Halloween. All he did was put on a sticker that said, “Hello, My Name is: Don Johnson.” He would change up names based on current events. My favorite was when he went as Michael Jordan.

And kids don’t even need a sticker, just the ability to think fast. If you’re wearing a button down shirt, say you’re Dwight from “The Office.” Wearing a knit shirt? Explain that you’re the entire cast of “High School Musical.” Jeans and a t-shirt? Looks like “West Side Story” to me. (Ok, I know, there isn’t a 8-year-old out there who would get that.)

But you can even take the literalist approach. Consider the following exchange I would like to have with a kid this Halloween who isn’t wearing a costume:

Me: So what are you dressed as?

Kid: I’m an elementary school student who wants candy.

That kid would get two fun size Kit Kats for being so audacious.

Alas, I expect no such candor from kids this Wednesday, and the extra Kit Kat will go to me.

So there.



At 8:40 am, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

One year I waited until the last minute to decide whether or not to attend a Halloween party. I didn't have the time/dime to buy a costume, so I tied a wrench around my neck and told everyone I was "a tool."

Most of them got the play on words. Some of them didn't. But, hey, at least I tried.

And I'll take that spare Kit Kat, thank you very much.

At 1:23 pm, Blogger Ogie said...

I loved Halloween. It was a great time for me and my kids.

I also love the pictures of your kids. It is hard to believe that my kids were once their age. Now they are 17 and 18 so no more trick or treating for me. At least until they get older and I have grandkids to take.

At 4:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year some kids came to my door. They looked right past me and one asked "Where'd you get that TV? I think they were casing the place. Darn 10 year olds!


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