Spending Halloween alone, my heart beating a million times a minute, drowning in a sea of candy wrappers


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.

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  1. Posted November 1, 2016 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you shouldn’t. Switch to Mounds.

  2. Posted November 1, 2016 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    You should be giving out homegrown fruits and vegetables.

    By giving away candy, you are supporting the plutocrats and the oligarchs.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    If what does a Carlos Danger outfit consist?

  4. MikeB
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    I’m in Ypsi township. This was the best weather we have had on Halloween since I moved here in 2008. The night was pretty dead compared to past years. Even last year with the rain we had more trick or treaters. Maybe the nicer weather let people venture out to nicer neighborhoods?

  5. site admin
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Carlos Danger outfit consists of white underwear and a sleeping son.


  6. Jcp2
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Kids are gravitating to higher yield neighborhoods. That would be smaller lots with many elementary aged children. The older kids sometimes will make later rounds of less popular neighborhoods that still give out candy, in the hopes that a desperate candy giver will give them double or triple the usual amount. On occasion, they’ve been lucky enough to receive all the remaining candy from the house.

  7. Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    They have gone to the houses of the plutocrats and the oligarchs.

  8. Jennifer Schlicht
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I didn’t try this year, which broke my heart. Last year in SE A2 I actually ran out. The year before I had less than 10, including 3 teens going door to door for Food Gatherers (GREAT idea). The year before *that* I got 2, and they each got a full half bag cause I was so excited.

    Pro tip, kids: if you go a little out of the way you might get *hooked up*. My parents live on a dead end… My mom picked up and went to a friend’s house who had scores. But the dozen or so kids who walked to the end of our court get full sized bars from one neighbor, jumbo pixie stix from another, and a full mini gift bag from my Mom (then Dad taking over) full of candy and stickers *plus* a bag of Better Made. Silly kids.

  9. James Engman
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    We put out a bowl on our front porch (down on Hawkins) with a note to “take 1 or 2” and it was half gone by 10pm. The porch light is definitely a must to show you’re participating. I always feel bad not being home to hand it out, but that’s just how it goes every year.

  10. Gary Clark
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    We had a few. Very sad. I remember trick or treating fondly. Everyone, adults and kids alike, dressed up. We decorated our houses, scarred each other, and we all went door to door
    safely. We used to do something like this in our neighborhood on Cross Street, but less and less now although this year there were 3 or 4 houses and maybe more than that gave out candy. The big downtown parties take away from it, although they are very cool also. I say: “Save your costumes for Krampus”! Thanks Mark Maynard for that.

  11. Gary Clark
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I will get diabetes from the leftover candy! Any ideas about how to use it creatively?

  12. Eel
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    It’s not the chocolate, it’s what they’re cutting it with these days.

  13. Lynne
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Ah. I feel your pain. I remember when I first bought my house, I was so excited about having kids come to my house for Halloween. I even bought full sized candy bars! Not one kid. The next year, after I told my neighbor how sad I was, he made his teenaged kids come over. I kept the porch light on for about five more years after that but then gave up. The thing is that there are usually just tons of kids in the neighborhood but my part of the street only has houses on one side and then a factory so it just isn’t an efficient block. The economist in me understands this but is has always been disappointing. These days I buy 2-3 full sized candy bars just in case and then around 9pm, I eat them myself :) So there is a good side to it

  14. Meghan Kathleen
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Normal Park is the shizznit, so much so that kids won’t cross West Cross for candy. Why would they, when Pearl and Oakwood are basically that part in Willy Wonka when he opens the door to the chocolate river room?

    Not that I’m bitter.

  15. maryd
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    On Oak St. we went through 100 full size candy bars, and then had to bring out a jar of coins, one handful per kid to finish of the night at 8:30. Afterwards we joined with some friends at a neighbor’s house and I continued to pass out candy there till 9:00 pm. Parents were driving their kids to our neighborhood

  16. Gillian
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Sorry, we tried to make it over there but I only got 2 blocks out of my kid :( we had a total of 3 trick-or-treaters and knew them all…

    I think if we could convince Cross Street Village to open up to trick-or-treaters our neighborhood would be the new hotness.

  17. Kevin
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Lived in Ypsi for 11 years, put out jackolanterns and turned the lights on, not a single kid. I grew up in Brookyln with crack, crime, stray dogs, young Trump, and my neighborhood was crawling with kids.

  18. D.L.
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Have you thought about going to where the kids are, like playgrounds, and offering them candy?

  19. Jean Henry
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I have the same geographical situation as Lynne, except the old factory is an office building now. We have never had many trick or treaters even though the neighborhood is bustling. Friends from Detroit and the country come to my house to stage their trick or treating– which I enjoy. I have had little kids unable to go on their own almost continuously until last year, so usually just left the candy by the door. Sometimes it was still full. I stayed home a few times in the past. It was never worth it.

    This year was SO different. I ran out of candy and all the apples in the house. (I always have a lot of apples) I thought it was the balmy weather, but then I saw a little girl, pulling her dad’s arm saying “we have to go see Otis and Kat.” I am an oldish grouch, who is annoyed by every knock at my door– but my animals are extremely social. It seems they have many fans around the neighborhood, as does the gold concrete pig by my front step. Or it may be that I have the only house left in the hood with derelict teens smoking on the porch roof listening to music. Or skateboarding out front. Or sitting around the fire pit also smoking and who knows what else. These was not unusual sights here 15 years ago. My house has remained pretty much the same for 25 years, but the neighborhood has fixed itself up. I would probably be that weird scary neighbor lady except these animals blew my cover. I think my house has become a curiosity.

    This would defy the hypothesis that it’s fancy treats and swank residences that get the kids.

    So I suggest you get a fenced yard and some very friendly ambassador animals. Maybe spray paint some yard ornaments gold. Whatever migrates to the yard stays in the yard until it rots in place. Oh and a tire swing in the front set back helps. Some big rocks with no defined purpose. truck tires. I don’t know whether the derelict teens are truly part of the appeal, but sometimes these things can not be avoided.

    Either way, kids or no kids, I prefer cider with bourbon to candy any day. No worries with bourbon. And the neighbors who come knocking are that much more welcome and welcomed.

  20. Jean Henry
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink


  21. Lynne
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I have considered getting a case of those little airplane bottles of booze and then putting a sign up a block up the street where there are tons of trick or treaters saying something like “PARENTS! Is Halloween stressing you out? Do you feel left out? Boozy treats at [address] and candy for the kiddos too” just to see what would happen.

  22. jean henry
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    That’s an excellent idea. For a bit parents were strolling my neighborhood with booze on Halloween but I’m sure that would be frowned upon now. When Ada was little, I know I wasn’t the only one with beer in the cup holder.

  23. Kristin
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I have a friend near Lawton Elementary who told me that there was a full parental booze up on her street, to the point where it got scary for the smaller kids. People. That’s what flasks are for.

  24. Posted November 2, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I had the same problems from eating sugar, so I understand. I crashed close to 1am. What is that on your door? It says stuff in Braille! (Nothing exciting–the “en”contraction which also means “enough” and kind of the “st” contraction which means “still”)

  25. Denise Heberle
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Our neighborhood is full of kids, but it’s unlit, dirt roads, with long hikes between houses. So I shouldn’t be surprised… But this year, we got our first group in 7 years!! Poor dears had to endure Wacky Lady’s squeals of joy and requests for hugs… Bless their darling hearts, they hung in there.

  26. Frosted Flakes
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate the idea but alcohol during trick or treating is a horrible idea.

  27. Frosted Flakes
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    *i appreciate the sentiment behind he idea

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