Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
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.”