2.46 Halloween Revisited

This year on Halloween marked the first time since moving into my new home that I felt compelled to pass out candy. I wonder if this came from being a homeowner – this obligation to open your door to kids dressed as Harry Potter, zombies and vampires. But what was the protocol?

First, I did not decorate the outside of my condo. The yellow caution tape, fake spider webs and life-sized Frankenstein’s monster are the providence of those with children. I don’t have offspring bugging me to turn the house into a haunted one. Therefore, as little effort as possible was completed on this front. Nothing, actually.

Second, I was not going to dress up. It is the responsibility of the youngest members of our society to fulfill this obligation. I teach children and all last week was ‘wear your costume to the rink day’ – yes, costume ‘day’ turned into costume ‘week’. The kids asked me what my costume was and I replied, “The invisible man. But I can’t wear it until Halloween day.” They cried foul, “But we won’t see you on Halloween.” I replied, “Exactly.” On the last day, I wore my orange sweater and said I was a pumpkin. They were disappointed.

Third, do I get to pick and choose who gets candy? What if some older kids, barely dressed up, knock on the door, using Halloween as an excuse to score some free candy? Can I refuse them? What if a kid has a really bad costume? What if they don’t say, “Trick or treat”? Am I allowed to not give them anything?

Fourth, what about peanut-related candy? Is this a faux-pas? Will I cause the death of some unsuspecting child whose parents have yet to declare or determine this allergy to the peanut? Do I have any legal responsibility?

This was getting very complicated.

I bought three bags of thirty chocolate bars – all of which said on the package they were peanut-free. I’m sure this would be enough. I live in a townhouse-like condo development that has lots of kids around. The condo’s are close together and as a kid, they are ideal as you could hit four doors in the time it takes to walk from one house to another on a residential street. I also figured this would be a good opportunity for me to connect with them and their parents, perhaps even form some neighbourly bonds.

It was not to be. I opened my blinds and turned on the lights by the window, which I felt presented a very non-threatening appearance, one that said, “I might live alone, but I am neither crazy nor want to steal your kids!” I heard the first rumble of footsteps up the stairs that lead to my door. On each landing, there are four front doors that lead to four separate condos, and the giggling kids knocked on the one beside me. I waited, candy bar bag in hand, in the foyer.  I was nervous. My neighbour’s yappy dog yapped away, but no one answered. Here we go, I thought, I’m next.

Footsteps bounced back down the stairs. I was confused as to why they didn’t knock on my door. I was ready, I was waiting, I had peanut-free chocolate bars.

More kids came running up the stairs. Again, they knocked next door. Again, the dog yapped away. My doorbell remained untouched. Should I open the door, offer them candy? Would that be weird? But that’s not how this works. They would know I was waiting in the foyer, listening. I ate one of my chocolate bars, looked at the pile sitting in the bowl. I wondered if I would end up alone, with no one coming by, sitting by the door, stuffing ninety mini-chocolate bars into my face.

The doorbell snapped me from my trance. The doorbell! I swung the door open, startled the kids, but not in a good way – they could sense my desperation. There were three kids – Iron Man, a skeleton and a princess – and I gave them way too many chocolate bars. Iron Man called out to other kids who were at the neighbouring building: “We got an open door!” Ten, no twenty of them came running up the stairs, I dumped chocolate bar after chocolate bar into bags. Parents smiled, kids said thank you.

Then I realized I was running low. I did want some candy to myself. Now, I realize that Halloween is about the kids, but still, I wanted a few Aero’s left, at least enough to make a normal sized chocolate bar. After the last kid in this group, I closed the door – two of my three bags were gone. I started hoarding. Don’t think of me as a bad person, but I took the empty candy bar bag in my hand and placed fifteen bars from the full bag in it, leaving me fifteen bars. With the next doorbell, I emptied the bag and said, “Sorry, I’m all out.” I even turned the bag upside down to show the full scale of the bag’s emptiness. There was a call for some personal reflection when you lie to kids about the amount of candy on Halloween. I ignored this call.

I turned off my lights, shut the blinds. I was closed for the night. I ate a chocolate bar. I heard footsteps. Tiny footsteps. A tiny knock. I looked through the eyehole, but couldn’t see anyone. A little kid came into view, stepped to the top of the stairs, her mother waited at the bottom, motioned for her to come, but she turned and looked forlornly at the doors, disappointed in us adults – we were not keeping up our end of the bargain with all these unanswered doors and dark windows. She was dressed as a kangaroo, complete with a pouch across her stomach that held a stuffed baby kangaroo. Her bag was not very full. She looked right at my door, seemingly right at me. Before she turned to leave, I opened the door, told her to wait a second. I grabbed my stash and emptied it into her bag. Well, I didn't give her everything - I kept a few chocolate bars to myself.

Next year, maybe I will get dressed up.