You’re Doin’ It Wrong

 

Today is Halloween, which means that tonight is Beggar’s Night. Or as I like to call it, my neighbor’s annual chance to confirm that someone actually does live in that house. At 6pm, I’ll need to be outside, as a bunch of rando people come walking up my driveway expecting me to interact with them.

What a horror show.

But the worst part is having to watch what’s going on in front of me, the alleged Trick-or-Treating. Kids in store-bought costumes being escorted around by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles… about two adults per child. They go up and down just our street, stopping and talking at each house as they go, the annual catchup for all the adults on the street. I sit, as this dismal failure unfolds before my eyes, with one thought reverberating through my head.

You’re doin’ it wrong.

———————————————————————————————————–

Jump in the Wayback Machine and we’ll go back to 1970, when kids knew how to do it right. I was eight that year, and although I didn’t know it, this would be my last year in the old neighborhood. I’ve written about that neighborhood before; a huge development, one of three in the town, where about four out of five houses contained school-age children.

Beggar’s Night back then ran from 6pm-9pm. At about 4pm you would realize that you needed some kind of Halloween costume, or people wouldn’t give you candy when you got to their door. Not to worry. A trip to the junk drawer in the kitchen looking for a cork. On the rare occasions when wine is consumed in the house, and on the even more rare occasions that said wine doesn’t have a screw top, the corks are saved for just his reason. Burn the cork and you can use it to give yourself Bluto-style five o’clock shadow.

At this point you have two ways to go. Find a bandana; there’s always a couple around the house. If you put something in it and tie it to a stick, you’re on your way to a hobo. Just wear some crappy clothes (a.k.a. the clothes you wear every day), and you’re all set.

Or you can go all out. Wrap the bandana around your head and tie it to the side. Make an eyepatch out of paper and a shoelace; if you don’t have black paper, that’s what magic markers are for. Go the extra mile and cut a sword out of cardboard. Gar, you’re a pirate.

The costume didn’t matter, because it wasn’t about the costume; it was about the candy. A lot of candy. And that meant volume. The idea of only covering one street would have horrified us. Our goal was to hit a hundred, hundred and fifty houses.

To do that, you have to move fast, and that means leaving the adults at home. None of this walking up the driveway stuff. No, you cut through the yards, jump over the flower beds, moving at a constant run, only stopping when you’re in front of the door, yelling “Trick or Treat”. And there we would stand, quivering like greyhounds at the starting gate, desperately repressing the urge to scream:

“Let’s go, let’s go… I got a schedule to keep!”

But these were all parents, and if you said something like that they would want to talk to you about having a proper attitude, and that crap can seriously cut into your trick-or-treatin’ time. So, we smiled, and held our tongues, doing our best to look normal during that completely abnormal time.

You have to understand the enormity of it. People were giving away candy! You just walk up to the door and they give you candy. It boggled the mind, but even at our tender ages we knew, deep down to our very souls, that this was what made America great.

Of course, with people expecting three, four thousand kids to come by, a lot of what we got was fairly marginal stuff:

  • A cellophane packet with three kernels of candy corn. For some reason, one was bigger than the others. I always ate that one first.
  • A small paper envelope with two small SweetTarts.
  • A tiny cardboard box with two Chiclets. What do I look like, my mom? (Of course, you didn’t say that. Attitude, crap, cutting into time).

But there were gems among the cheap stuff:

  • Mini rolls of Necco wafers. Always a favorite.
  • Ah, Smarties. Put the whole roll in your mouth and crunch. Oh, the rush of sugar and artificial flavors. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
  • Tootsie Roll Pops, along with the entire panoply of other suckers.
  • Bazooka and Double Bubble. You can never have too much bubblegum.

Then you move into the premium tier, and that means chocolate.

  • Mini-size, and fun-size and best of all snack-size candy bars. People giving away candy bars. Seriously… mind boggled.

But what you lived for were the unicorns.

  • Full-size candy bars. Even in our working-class neighborhood, there were people going that all out for Halloween. Trust me, word spread among the ravening horde as to the location of these poor fools, who doubtless ended up with far more visitors than they had ever anticipated.
  • Popcorn balls covered in caramel. Where else do you get those other than Halloween?
  • Homemade caramel covered apples. I can still taste it, sitting here now, the saltiness of the caramel against the sweetness of the apple.

We would use large-size paper grocery bags, and we would come home with pounds of stuff. We would be exhausted but filled with the pride that only comes from a job well done. Plus, we had pounds of stuff.

The only worry left was how to keep my older brothers from stealing my candy.

———————————————————————————————————–

So kids, up your game and start doing it right. Ditch the old folks, run through the yards, and start getting the job done. Oh, and while you’re at it, you might at least pretend that there is some truth behind your threat of producing a trick if I disappoint you. I look at these kids, standing there with half their family in tow, and I want to ask them… did you bring any eggs? How about a bar of soap? You’ve got nothin’, right? Get off of my driveway.

But if I do that the parents want to talk to me about having the proper attitude and that crap can really increase the amount of time I have to spend interacting with people.

“Let’s go let’s go! I got a schedule to keep.”

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  1. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Great memories!

    Hahaha:
    A tiny cardboard box with two Chiclets. What do I look like, my mom?

    • #1
  2. Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger Member
    Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger
    @MattBalzer

    Judge Mental: Popcorn balls covered in caramel. Where else do you get those other than Halloween?

    Hmm. If I made them now because of that, would it still count as making them for Halloween?

    • #2
  3. Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger Member
    Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger
    @MattBalzer

    Hmm. I never really got out that much, mostly because I had this tradition of always being sick on Halloween. I recall though that the major difference for us was that in our small town you knew where the rich people lived (mostly up by the golf course) and you could go directly there for the big scores; besides the full-size candy bars, you might score actual cash money (usually quarters, but sometimes a whole dollar) and there was one place that gave out cans of soda. Granted, they owned the local distributor.

    • #3
  4. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I’m ready!

    • #4
  5. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m ready!

    Premium tier!  Nice.  Then again, almost everybody does premium tier now.

    I included Smarties one year, just for nostalgia’s sake.  But I was giving out handfuls of stuff that year, mostly candy bars.  Ten pounds, about thirty kids.

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Oh, man, that brings back memories. Our goal was to hit every house in the neighborhood that had a light on. I just looked on Google Maps satellite view and counted about five hundred houses in our subdivision. About two thirds would be giving things out. We would come away with at least two full grocery bags of loot. Ah, those were the days.

    These days, I live in an apartment in a security building. There’s one kid upstairs and two across the hall, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see them. They’re doin’ it wrong.


    This fantastic memory of an earlier America has been brought to you as part of our Group Writing Series under October’s theme of Zeal.

    In November, our theme will be Elimination, when Judge Mental will tell you how he got rid of his bags and bags of candy. Or, you can tell us about something you have eliminated from your life or will eliminate soon…really…any day now. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I made sure my wife got candy I like and can eat, since I’ll probably be the one eating it.

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    And you might be surprised at which candies have wheat and gluten.

    • #8
  9. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    • #9
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    That is hilarious. Evil, but hilarious.

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Not a real product, though. Get on the stick, Dole.

    • #11
  12. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    That’s so evil.

    • #12
  13. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Not a real product, though. Get on the stick, Dole.

    Of course… you could never get two ounces of salad in a package that size.

    • #13
  14. Mike "Lash" LaRoche Inactive
    Mike "Lash" LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    • #14
  15. Mike "Lash" LaRoche Inactive
    Mike "Lash" LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Mike "Lash" LaRoche (View Comment):

    But still better than The Last Jedi.

    • #15
  16. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Mike "Lash" LaRoche (View Comment):

    Mike "Lash" LaRoche (View Comment):

    But still better than The Last Jedi.

    Is that an Ewok?  And, is there a kid in that trash can?

    • #16
  17. Mike "Lash" LaRoche Inactive
    Mike "Lash" LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Mike "Lash" LaRoche (View Comment):

    Mike "Lash" LaRoche (View Comment):

    But still better than The Last Jedi.

    Is that an Ewok? And, is there a kid in that trash can?

    Yoda that kid on the left is.

    • #17
  18. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    In 1990, my family was visiting my sister’s gang in a small town just outside Butte. At age 34, I achieved a lifelong dream–we hit every house in town. 

    To the victors!!! 

    And the Tums.

     

    • #18
  19. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    My kids will trick-or-treat in my old neighborhood where my parents still reside.

    With over 100 houses in a horseshoe-shaped mile of quiet residential street, it is the kind of place that has always, even in the bucolic 60s and 70s, attracted cars filled with trick-or-treaters from other neighborhoods.

    My Little Berry daughter made four masks she attached together with a blue wig, so she is a four-headed monster. It’s pretty freaky. The Boy will be a wearing a flying cap (German) brought home from WWII by my dad’s uncle, along with my dad’s 1950s-era leather jacket and a white silk scarf and goggles. He looks pretty cool. An older son will be dressing up but not trick-or-treating, in his vampire costume which includes my mother’s black wool cape from nursing school.

    • #19
  20. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    That’s the way my brothers and I used to do it too. We would go in a group of seven with the neighbor family’s kids. We took pillow cases to collect the candy and would usually get it about half full and then come home, dump it on the floor, and start trading among each other. Good times.

    • #20
  21. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):
    pillow cases

    Definitely the key. Pillow cases is the way to go.

    Especially if you’ve gone pirate — nothing like a sack of loot!

    • #21
  22. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    • #22
  23. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Now Jimmy, if you can just team up with the house giving out the salad, the kiddies can have a complete meal!

    • #23
  24. OldDanRhody Member
    OldDanRhody
    @OldDanRhody

    Judge Mental:

    But the worst part is having to watch what’s going on in front of me, the alleged Trick-or-Treating. Kids in store-bought costumes being escorted around by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles… about two adults per child…

    You’re doin’ it wrong.

     

    ———————————————————————————————————–

    Beggar’s Night back then ran from 6pm-9pm. At about 4pm you would realize that you needed some kind of Halloween costume…

    Yep.  Zero creativity, and very little fun in just buying a costume – making one up is the larger part of the fun.  Grown-ups ruin everything.

    • #24
  25. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Here’s a series of pictures of my youngest two, so you can see her four masks:

    the front

    her left side

    the back

    her right side.

     

    • #25
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Can get four times the candy that way.

    • #26
  27. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Can get four times the candy that way.

    And she doesn’t like Snickers! Woot woot! We already have a pact that I get all her Snickers…

    • #27
  28. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    We now play the grown up version of the game.  Go dark, prentend not to be there.  See what kids are brave enough or foolish enough to waste time to find our full size candy bars.  You see, we get what they don’t find.  

    • #28
  29. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    So true about the speed.

    Since there were no parents going around, my older brothers got stuck with me when I was little. What I remember is a lot of yelling at me, “Hurry up! Come on!” Little kids cannot run fast. I remember falling once and all the candy scattering all over the street. My brothers were not happy having to help me gather it up before moving on!

     

    • #29
  30. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):
    Little kids cannot run fast.

    Especially in snow suits or parkas with costumes over them.

    • #30

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