This is where I’ve been sitting for the past hour or so, since it first started getting dark, just waiting for a trick-or-treater to climb the three steps in front of our old house and ring the bell. So far, though, no one’s even come close. I keep going to the window to check, but all I see are the regular people who walk up and down our street at night, no families, no one in costumes, just folks carrying six packs, or making their way either to or from the AA meeting next door. So I’m just sitting here alone, facing the door, concerned that my heart, swelled full with the power of cheap, low-quality candy, may burst like a Cadbury creme egg.
About an hour ago, before I settled down in front of the door, I really thought that my heart was going to explode. I’d spent an hour running around the house, my cheeks stuffed full of chocolate, sweating profusely, my limbs twitching uncontrollably, cleaning like a madman, paranoid that the parent of some random little kid might peek inside and see the dirty dishes and mouse traps strewn across the Living Room floor… And, yes, I do think there’s probably a connection between the half-eaten plate of nachos I just found by the couch and the fact that we have mice, but that’s beside the point right now… Right now, I’m still getting over the fact that my heart felt like it was getting ready to burst wide open. I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty confident that it was the candy. I don’t usually eat it, and my guess is that it’s become a lot more potent since I was young. I mean, I’m used to the occasional manic episode, but this was something altogether different. For what it’s worth, I also think I was mixing candies that shouldn’t be mixed. [Imagine John Belushi at the Chateau Marmont, but with peanut butter cups and Almond Joys instead of coke and heroin.] Things are a little bit better now, but it was touch and go for a while.
Finally, I collapsed into this chair, where I just sat, staring intently at the front door, afraid to turn the music on, as I thought I might not hear the knocking of tiny fists, which I was confident were sure to come. It was like that scene in Goodfellas where Ray Liotta, wired out of his mind, is making meatballs while looking repeatedly out his front door for the cops that he’s sure are about to arrest him. I’m just sitting here on a chair, next to the front door, a bowl of candy in my lap, repeatedly jumping up to make sure that the pumpkins are still lit outside, and that someone hasn’t posted a “do not trick-or-treat” sign on my front door. [I keep thinking that people are avoiding our house because, last year, I teased kids by first offering them potatoes before breaking out the good stuff… And, yes, I’ve finally succumb to dad humor.]
I was sure there would be trick-or-treaters this year. Last year we had quite a few. It was the first time since buying this house in downtown Ypsi 16 years ago that we had even one, and we had well over a dozen. And I thought this year we’d see even more, as the neighborhood has continued to get even more kid-friendly, as evidenced by the marked decrease in gunfire. But it’s just not happening. Maybe it’s that the light on our porch isn’t working. I thought the two pumpkins would counteract that, but maybe I was wrong. [I just checked again, and they’re still lit.] Or maybe some have gotten close to the font door but then changed their minds when they saw me through the window, drenched in sweat, dressed in my Carlos Danger outfit, while popping handfuls of vitamins. [I eventually figured out that wine was the anecdote that I was looking for to counteract the effects of the candy, but I tried B6 and D3 first, as they were handy.] Or maybe it was the fact that the squirrels had eaten the faces off of our pumpkins, leaving what look like glowing heaps of orange, glowing flesh. Or maybe Linette didn’t add our address to the list of “trick-or-treat friendly houses in the neighborhood,” like she told me that she had. Regardless, I still thought we’d get someone. I bought about 12 pounds of candy, and, at least so far, it’s just me eating it, while the rest of my family is having fun elsewhere.
This is Clementine’s first Halloween without us. She’s apparently too old for parents, which I guess is how it should be. And Arlo and Linette have gone off with some friends who live in a neighborhood where, I assume, the candy-to-house ratio is greater. And, to be honest, if I were a kid, I’d probably push my folks to take me somewhere different. While we have some generous folks in our neighborhood, I suspect it probably makes more sense to invest one’s time in a neighborhood with a greater density of candy giving houses. Here, I think, while some of the houses might give really good stuff, I suspect you might have to walk a block or two to get from one to the next. Better, I think, to go to a neighborhood with six candy giving houses on a block, even if they’re offering less interesting fare… I suspect someone has already done it, but it would be interesting to study various Halloween strategies and see which are the most effective, the same way people have studied what actions taken by restaurant servers yield larger tips. My guess is that, if you really wanted to maximize your time, you’d go to an older subdivision, with smaller lots, where a high percentage of homes are owned by families with school-aged children.
OK, here’s an idea… and I realize it’s probably a result of the multiple Almond Joys that I just ate… but what if I start a consulting company for kids, where they pay something like a dollar, and I send them the best community within biking distance of where they live to hit on Halloween night? That could be a real business, right?
For what it’s worth, I’ve now given up and moved away from the front door, to the kitchen table, where I’m typing this. I had to get away from the candy bowl. While it’s true that the Trader Joe’s wine is offsetting the effects of the Whoppers to some extent, I feel as though I’m dangerously close to slipping back into the heart pounding mania I experienced earlier. And I’d rather not clean my house anymore.
So, I’m not sure what to make of this experience. Does the lack of trick-or-treaters mean that my neighborhood is less family friendly than in was last year, or does it just mean that, after a year of trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, all of the parents acquiesced and took their kids to either Normal Park or Depot Town, where, for a lot less work, you can get a significantly bigger bag of candy? [I don’t know it to be true, but it’s possible that kids in my neighborhood would burn off more calories walking between homes that they’d take in from the consumption of candy, making the entire holiday a colossal waste of time. Again, this is something that I’d like to have an academic look into.]
Good night. I’m going to blow out the pumpkins now and watch Dawn of the Dead.