Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hard Candy Halloween

I love fall and I think good Halloween decorations are underrated. I tend to go for fun rather than scary ones even though I enjoyed being scared when I was a kid.

It's hard for me to believe now, but back in the 70s and 80s our church, which was about 150 years old then, used to let our singles group turn the whole place into a haunted house! Three floors worth of scary--there was a vampire in the youth room and a mad scientist hatcheting brains and stuff out in fellowship hall. A big ghost would fly down the center of the sanctuary while our organist dressed like the Phantom of the Opera played Bach's Tocatta and Fugue. Classy!

Once the haunted house was in the Sunday School annex, a really old house next to the church. One of the guys in the singles class dressed up like Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He chased people through the house with an actual chain saw (might be one reason he was single). I assume the chain was removed, but with that gasoline-powered motor blaring six inches from my ear it didn't seem to make a difference in how scared I was.

Good times. Now we're afraid of Harry Potter.

Do you like my apples? I thought about giving them out for Halloween. When trick-or-treaters come I have two bowls of candy. If the kids have bothered to dress up at all I pick up the bowl with the really good candy--candy bars, suckers, etc. If the kid at the door is 17 years old with no costume and an open pillow case, I fight the impulse to hide my wallet and reach for the bowl of loser candy--like those orange or black wax-wrapped taffy things that I took one chew on as a child and spewed from my mouth like God spitting out a lukewarm Christian. Or I could give the un-costumed near-adults apples. Aren't we past all that razor-in-the-fruit nonsense? Do you know ANYONE who ever actually found a razor in their fruit? I'm pretty sure some kid started that rumor precisely to keep adults from handing out anything but candy at Halloween.

Try not to judge me harshly. I don't expect great costumes. Mine were certainly nothing special when I was young. I saw a picture of me from a Halloween when I was about four. I was wearing Tweetie Bird footie pajamas, a monkey mask and a witch's hat. My sister was in the picture, too. She had on what looked like a brand new store-bought princess outfit. Don't feel sorry for me. I appeared to be quite happy. I was too naive to be jealous or to notice my family laughing hysterically behind my back.

In retrospect, I think trick-or-treating was typically an after thought for my family (my sister's superior princess costume was an anomoly). In addition to never having great costumes, I remember at least one time when Halloween fell on a church night, which is the worst thing that can happen to a Southern Baptist kid. In this case, it was a Wednesday. I think my parents thought they were going to get out of having to take me trick-or-treating, but I must have pitched a big fit. We had potluck supper at church each Wednesday at 6:00. My mom and sister were already there, so I think my dad took me to the five houses of people we knew on the way to church and that was it. I was dressed in my school clothes, a Batman mask, and a navy blue windbreaker snapped at the neck with the arms thrown over my shoulder for a cape--it was no tweetie-bird-monkey-witch, but it got the job done!

Back to the two candy bowls. I don't tell the trick-or-treaters that I have two forms of reward. My intent isn't to hurt their feelings, but I do feel that even the least amount of effort ought to be worth a little to those kids who bothered to change something about their everyday appearance. I'm sure I'll reconsider apples as an option for the loser bowl. I don't want our house to get egged.

Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. I always enjoy giving out candy, even to the jaded adolescents with no costumes. They are still having a good time and most are actually pretty polite. I have even been known to change bowls when I open the door and find out the teenagers are super friendly. Maybe what I'm witnessing when a 17 year old with no costume comes trick-or-treating is a young person who just isn't quite ready to grow up yet, but who also felt too silly to put on a costume. Can I fault them for not being ready to take that first step into adulthood? One only gets so many chances to trick-or-treat during a lifetime. I guess I can respect the undisguised reluctance of youth. And then there is the possibility that they might just have a wicked sugar addiction. Either way, I can relate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Troy -- at Broadway when I was here before we used to have a haunted house -- lots of neighborhood kids would come. This year we are having a party out on the parking lot (in case of rain it will be down in the Wesley Room). If you want to help -- give Carmen a call at 924-4207... -- Mike

5:01 AM  
Anonymous David said...

Love your sideboard/server tableau. Scale is good, color, esp. like the white pumpkin highlights. When I was a teen, we used to pull our shirt up over our head and walk around like a hunchback and go trick or September! Oh well, it was good for a Baby Ruth at least.

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Sally said...

We were having the debate here at work as to what age is "too old" to trick or treat. We decided that 13-14 is about max. I will always give treats to parents who dress up to take their kids out, I love that spirit of fun. We give out Cheetos, the kids seem to love them.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Troy said...

Dave, that is hilarious. Maybe I should have a third bowl for September trick-or-treaters.

Sally, I tend to agree about the age, and I LOVE it when parents dress up.

7:24 AM  
Blogger JEB said...

I remember LOVING to go to your house for Halloween. Miss Katy hooked a sista up with WHOLE candy bars. She didn't care what costume we had on - She was just so happy we came to see her.
Lori and I have decided not to turn our light on this year. We have too many of those 17-year olds with no costume and a backpack shoved in our face. (They don't even say trick or treat!) I wish I could have your positive attitude about it, but I don't. We're going to go see a movie instead. :)

1:10 PM  

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