All Hallows’ Eve is just around the corner, so I’m looking forward to the time-honored traditions of under-performing on my decorations, burning the pumpkin seeds I so desperately want to come out perfect, and stealing candy from my children.
Over the years I’ve learned a few important life lessons from Halloween, including:
- If you’re not using a pillowcase, you’re doing it wrong – This nonsense with the plastic pumpkin has to stop. First off it’s setting the wrong expectation for how to set goals in life. The amount of candy you can fit in the typical orange pumpkin is barely worth the effort, and when your idiot toddler drops it the candy flys everywhere. Then Dad is on his knees picking Milky Ways out of what he can only hope is mud while junior screams like it’s Darfur. Be a man. Bring a pillow case and don’t stop until that fucker is filled.
- Kids are soft these days – Parents need to stop trick-or-treating with their kids by age 6. I don’t care if that registered sex offender lives on the next block over. It teaches the kids to be fast and make sure they stay on their toes to avoid a good old-fashioned snatching. If your kids are scared have them carry a small knife.
- Kids are soft these days (part 2) – Don’t get me started with the pre-teens and teens these days. Barely a tree covered in toilet paper. In our day Halloween at that age started with a massive shaving cream (and yes, Nair when you wanted to be a real dick) fight in the park, and then moved to outright vandalism – eggs, dogshit, plastic bags of rotten crabapples – up in a neighborhood we called Snob’s Knob. We would throw ballistics at houses, old women, cop cars, you name it because we knew we could escape the authorities having practiced in earlier years dodging the clawing and arthritic claws of old man Chester the Molester.
- Speaking of, teenagers come in two forms – Male teenagers half-assedly stroll up to your door with a pirate patch and maybe some marker on their face that suggests a five o’clock shadow and expect some chocolate. They aren’t even trying. This is where Lulu the pitbull comes in. And female teeneagers dress as sluts. From cheerleader to Einstein to zombie to Hillary Clinton. Sluts. Sub life-lesson…..sluts get more chocolate.
- Ask first, threaten second – I don’t know why the trick-or-treat phrase ended up like it did. You shouldn’t threaten up front with a trick. Ask nicely for the treat and if you don’t get what you want, then you threaten. Like this.
- Quality over quantity – I learned this lesson the hard way one year. I grew up in a small neighborhood and as a result there were few houses to hit trick-or-treating, but also fewer children. I was constantly jealous of the kids who lived downtown whose opportunity for collecting loot was limited solely by how far they could walk before frostbite set in (upstate New York and all). So one year I went downtown with a friend. Huge mistake. In the small neighborhood, the houses gave out full chocolate bars, often multiples at a time. If you got to the Blunden’s early enough you could get one of their famous, head-sized popcorn caramel bars loosely wrapped in cellophane (this was before the razor scare, or maybe after and our parents didn’t give a shit). Sure you might also get a bag of pennies from crazy old Matilda, but next door there would be a bowl of Kit Kats sitting unattended that you could have your way with American Pie-style. But downtown…..a fucking tootsie roll? 5 pieces of candy corn? I get those houses were overrun with kids and they couldn’t keep up, but don’t be surprised when its raining eggs, hallelujah.
- Bad shit does happen in dark corners, but risks pay rewards – We had no streetlights, and half of the small neighborhood I lived in was up around a dark and steep turn in the road with forest on both sides. Unfortunately, so was the Holy Grail unattended Kit Kat bowl. If you wanted access, you had to brave the corner. I was often trick-or-treating with one or maybe two friends so we’d grasp our bulging pillow cases, tighten our sphincters, and run. Straight into the waiting arms of a demonic horde of older kids who would paste us with eggs and shaving cream while our aforementioned sphincters released. But once through the gauntlet, the spoils of the upper neighborhood released like Elysian Fields. In life, risk pays rewards.
And the final Halloween lesson I learned is that nobody likes a drunk banana. If you and a friend think it’s going to be hysterical to dress in a full body gorilla suit and man-sized banana (complete with yellow tights), and then to walk uninvited into random halloween parties and proceed to run amok as the gorilla desperately chases the banana about the party, you’ll end up wrong. While evolution and stereotypes would leave you to believe that a gorilla does desperately want to get his hands on that banana, once you’ve knocked a few other party goers over and broken one or two glasses, it will become clear that nobody likes a drunk banana. Live and learn.