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Monday, October 24, 2005


Last year, our doorbell rang just once all Halloween night. We opened the door to a gaggle of children all different ages. About ten were at the door. An equal number milled around in the street, apparently waiting for the initial glut to dissipate before making their approach to the bowl of Snickers, Milky Ways, and Three Musketeers Cindy and I give out each year. Why is the smallest size called the "Fun Size?" Wouldn't it be more fun to have a really humongous Snickers? What's so fun about wishing you had more chocolate?

I looked below at the painted, magic-markered, wigged, masked, fanged, eyepatched, sequin-spangled (this is Los Angeles, after all), pork-pie hat-topped, sword-wielding, prosthesis-wearing, and generally supremely festooned children ranging in age from I'd say 4 to 12. Unfortunately, the excellent execution of their costumes only accentuated the relative weakness of their "Trick or Treat" which had the unmistakable murmur quality of something they were forced to say by their parents. It kind of dribbled off their lips like a bloop of unattended-to spittle. Odd, I thought, but then immediately remembered having the same reaction last year. As I meted out the booty, bag by bag, vampire by Wookiee, I sensed an impatience among the crowd, but not an exuberant one like "Gimme, gimme candy so I can go get some more from the next house!" but more like, "Let's get this over with so Mom will get off my back and I can get back my AIM and my PSP."

What happened? When did Halloween become a chore?

I looked out into the street and saw easily twelve adults forming a crescent before the curb. They watched closely as each child dutifully said "Thank you" and sternly reminded the ones that didn't that they should. One proud daddy, now that his flash had warmed up, asked a little girl dressed in pink nylon, wire wings and a tiara to go back and pretend to get a second candy bar. Take two, and this time with feeling, please.

"Back off, dude. This is her moment, not yours," I said.

Actually, that's not what I said. What I said was, "Oh you're so beautiful! Are you a fairy or a princess?" But what I was thinking was why is this guy even here? Halloween used to be about kids running amok all over town WITHOUT adult supervision. That's what really made it fun. Think of it. Kids going door to door demanding candy and the parents forced to obey. It was one of the few times of the year when the kids ruled over the adults. The fact that you got to dress up like a pirate and go home with a pillow case full of sugar was just the nougat in the caramel. Why do today's parents feel the need to supervise? Is it really more dangerous out there or has CNN and Fox News and Dubya brainwashed us into thinking that although ours is the greatest nation in the world, you probably don't want to let you kids out of your sight until they're old enough to, well, to give up trick-or-treating altogether? And while you've got your camera out to take that photo of little Ashley, get a shot of that guy handing out the candy. He looks a little suspicious.

What a shame.

With all the sugar transactions completed, and the appropriate oo-ing an ah-ing dispensed, the parents herded their kids back into the street and on to the next house. That's when one mother looked back and said to me and Cindy, "Next year, we'll have to get you two out here."

I'm still trying to figure out what she meant by that.


At 10/29/2005 10:44 AM, DasGort said...

I think she meant when you get kids. That's my guess.


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