Last night was our first Halloween in the new residence. (Stay tuned for other new exciting firsts, like the first Christmas-we-don't-spend-in-the-new-house, garunteed to be a blockbuster smash.) Last year at this time, Rhiannon and I lived in an apartment. We didn’t have any trick-or-treaters stop at our door. For some reason, the whole lower-income creepy guys who listened to death metal and threw empty beer bottle of their balcony in the building next to ours failed to create the warm, happy and inviting atmosphere into which parents feel at ease to send their young and hopefully naïve children. In all honesty, if I was a parent with a child in the apartments that we lived in and my kid wanted to go trick or treating, I would have drove them to the nice housing development near by. And I thought our apartments were relatively nice compared to some I’ve seen.
Moving on to this year, we don’t live in apartments anymore. Rhiannon was excited to have little people in costumes come to our door and expect candy in return for no other reason than that is tradition. I doubt any of them even had a good trick planned if we would have requested one rather than handing out treats.
We made sure our porch light was on, the candy dish was near the door and we went about our evening with a hint of anticipation in the air. Thanks to the end of daylight savings time, it was dark by six o’clock. And we waited. We finished supper and moved to the couch to watch a little TV and grade some papers. I could tell there was a little tension brewing. Did we miss the notice about putting a white chalk “x” on the sidewalk if you were handing out candy? Did parents know that we have no children of our own and consider our house off limits? Did we throw off some kind of don’t-stop-here-if-you-want-to-live-they-eat-small-children-aura? And then it happened.
The doorbell rang.
In our house, we have a good amount of wood floor that runs from the front door to the back of the house by the living room. We both tend to run about two-thirds of this distance and then slide the remaining distance. Having heard Rhiannon do this from outside the house, I know that is audible when standing at the front door. Watching her run in excitement to great our first ever trick-or-treater, I wondered what they were thinking: Did they consider fleeing in terror at the sound of the approaching monster who must be coming to devour them? Did they wonder if the huge dog was going to break the door down right on top of them? Did they think that a twenty-four year old school teacher was so excited at the thought of seeing more children she could contain her eagerness to get to the door and hand out candy we bought with our hard earned money for free?
I don’t know what they thought, but a small girl dressed as a Care Bear and her dad was waiting on the other side of the door.
Small Girl’s Dad: “What do you say?”
Small Girl: “Trick-or-treat.”
Rhiannon: [getting candy] “What a cute Care Bear Costume. Which Care Bear are you?”
Small Girl: “Cheer Bear.”
Rhiannon: [finishing with the candy] “It’s a very nice costume.”
Small Girl’s Dad: “What do you say, honey?”
Small Girl: “Thank you.”*
Rhiannon: “You’re welcome. You are so cute; I could just eat you up. Can I taste your hand?”
Small Girl: “Daddy?”
Small Girl’s Dad: “Thank you, but we really have to go.”
Rhiannon: “No rush, stay a while, have a snack.”
Small Girl and Her Dad: [fleeing]
Rhiannon: [turning to me] “She was really cute. Wanna have kids?”**
We had other kids stop by after that. Some were in groups; a few were probably just a little to old to still be asking for candy (Hint: if a pack of razors would be more appropriate than candy, you might be too old). Rhiannon still ran to the door for all of them. Seeing her hand out candy made me wonder what other good treats were being dished out last night.
I think if I ever have a small child (and I hear that most children start out small at some point or another), I will take the kid around and collect more candy than they could possibly handle. When the kid is older, I might have to enforce a candy income tax equal to our family’s effective tax bracket. A conscientious parent should never pass up a good opportunity to exploit cheap child labor or to teach real world financial lessons.
* - I may have made anything in the conversation after this point up. It’s a good possibility.
** - This may have actually been mentioned at some point during the evening.