In the TV special about The Great Pumpkin, Linus is out there proclaiming to be in the "most sincere" pumpkin patch. And that's how I sort of view the Manor - we put a fair amount of effort into decorating, and we take a certain amount of pride and satisfaction in that. Now, a lot of this is done for ourselves and the many friends we host over the course of October. But trick or treating on Halloween itself is certainly a major motivation, at least for the outdoor decorations. But I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth the time and trouble we put into it, (just the outdoor stuff). We barely had 40 kids this year, a tie for the lowest number in the 12 years we've lived at the current address.
Part of the problem is that we're just not in a 'target rich' environment. In a region now full of garden apartments, townhouses, and high rises, suburban quarter acre lots means a lot more hiking for kids who are barely used to leaving their game stations for more than 5 minutes at a time. This is compounded by the fact that only about half of our neighborhood hand out treats - for every house that has at least a front porch light on, there is one sitting in stygian darkness - the residents cowering in back rooms, lest they be forced to interact. And of those that show some life, only about half do even minimal decorating. If we are not a Halloween Sahara, we approach being a Sahel.
Another difficulty is with about a third of the trick or treaters. As I've pointed out before, by the time I turned ten, I pretty much considered that the end of my candy begging days. Now, we get dudes in high school coming by, and they have shitty costumes, to boot. If not for the fear of vandalism, I'd be asking these guys if they shouldn't be learning to drive a car or maybe date a girl, rather than go around scrounging up Snickers bars.
But then amongst the younger (and more appropriate) kids we have a problem - a bunch of them are little more than drooling morons. They say nothing, they look at you with glassy imbecilic eyes, some can't even remember to open their treat bag for you to throw in some candy. It would be one thing if they were dressed as and pretending to be zombies. But they aren't. THEY REALLY ARE ZOMBIES. I mean, how many brain cells does it take to march up to a door, yell out 'Trick-Or-Treat!" and then hold open a bag? Well, it takes too many cells for close to a dozen of our callers last night.
One little asshole received his bag of candy, and then asked me if there was any money in it! I told him that it was just candy. He then started squalling that he wanted money! His father* walked up and explained that some neighbor around the corner was handing out quarters, rather than candy. I think he expected me to meet this figure, as if I was in some sort of bidding war. I just told the guy and his ayn rand wannabe of a son that if they wanted cash they'd have to go back to the guy around the corner. Sheesh!
Finally, I saw at least a couple of kids (and parents) walk by the house, even though we're the most decorated in the immediate neighborhood, and a sure source of candy. What gives with that?!? We return to my 'Real Zombie' accusation. These cretins don't have a clue.
And so, I will ponder last night. Perhaps a year will soften me up, but I'm kind of tired of going out of my way for kids that can't even get the basics down right of what should be a simple ritual.
*There is always
a parent now, frequently a whole squad of them, following their little snowflakes around, lest anything interesting happen to them. The exception are the high school kids, of course, the parents gave up on them long ago. In my day, no kid above the age of six would be caught dead with a parent shepherding them around. The abuse from their peers would be merciless, and probably fatal. We were Spartans, and it was expected that we would go out alone, returning with our treat bag, or stuffed in it...