Halloween is a holiday that comes with responsibilities, a special day that adults are tasked with turning into an exciting event for all the costumed children banging on their door or wearing out their doorbell — the ones whose helicopter parents allow them a few minutes of supervised, flashlight-enhanced trick-or-treating in the “safe” areas of the neighborhood, anyway.
But don’t be fooled by all the resounding “thank-yous” offered up when you drop something into their plastic pumpkins (or pillow cases for the Halloween veterans). There are consequences based on what you hand out, not the least of which is permanent labeling of the sort that you don’t want to be branded with for the next 12 months.
Here then is the definitive list of the labels kids will assign to you on Oct. 31, and any emotional injury to their tender little psyches as a result of your stinginess — or worse — as well as any potentially significant damage to your home and property, will be 100% your fault.
• Old School. Rhymes with “Old Fool.” Seriously? You’re dishing out singles of individually wrapped pieces of hard candy the size of frozen peas — with about the same confectionary appeal — the kind of generic crap that has pull dates so old the stuff was manufactured before pull dates were even invented. If those junior witches had wands that worked, you’d be croaking like a toad right now.
• The Nutrition Nut. You’re giving out little mini-bags of nuts, because “Candy isn’t good for little kids.” Yeah, and so’s being exposed to uptight adults whose holier-than-thou arrogance can put some poor toddler on the road to a lifetime of cynicism and ultimately rage against their fellow human beings. But at least you’ll get a mention in some future serial killer’s autobiography.
• The Solid Citizen. As in, solid milk chocolate, baby. Okay, you’re handing out Hershey’s Miniatures, which ain’t exactly a kid’s idea of the candy motherlode, but at least the experienced trick-or-treaters know enough to make a return visit toward the end of the evening, when your “one-to-a-customer” rule gets flushed in the interests of emptying the candy bowl before the jack-o-lanterns burn out.
• The Miser. Or is that spelled, “misery?” Because that’s what all those Spidermen and Disney Princess-ettes will experience as they realize you just dropped a couple kernels of inedible candy corn into their bags, a totally synthetic concoction that even the family mutt won’t touch when the kids get home to sort and swap their haul. You outta be forced to eat what’s left over as your punishment, cheapskate.
• The Clueless Chump. You’ve made more than a dozen trips to the store in the weeks leading up to October 31, and yet somehow you failed to notice the entire acre of candy on display at your local supermarket? That’s even less believable than the tales of witches on brooms and ghosts coming to life on All Hallow’s Eve. And now you’re handing out Ritz crackers and cheese sticks cut in half? You shoulda just shut off the lights, left the house and parked yourself on a barstool somewhere for the night. That would have been a lot less embarrassing.
Now, none of those assessments are anything to be proud of, but there’s still one more characterization to consider, one that shines brighter than any candlelit pumpkin ever could. Do the right thing, and kids could be calling you …
• The Legend. This is life’s easiest road to super-stardom (at least for one night), a paved path to glory, and all it requires is forking over a few bucks to score several bags of “regular” candy bars. C’mon, people. Miniatures are for losers. Spend Halloween night handing out quarter-pounder Kit-Kats, Reese’s Cups and Snickers bars, and you’ll be basking for hours in the glow of happy faces and excited chatter as word spreads that, “There’s a house [on your street] giving away BIG candy bars!” It’s the next best thing to sainthood, and it’s way easier than trying to arrange a bunch of miracles.
So there you have it: all the labels that those hordes of cute little kids — who will shortly mature into sullen, alienated teens ready to lash out at their perceived enemies — will assign to you and yours, all on the basis of what you choose to drop into their trick-or-treat bags.
In conclusion: You’ve got the weekend to get it together and spring for some memorable treats this Halloween. It’s the one night of the year when you can literally buy your way into neighborhood lore as a true pillar of the community and achieve exalted status as The House That (full-size) Baby Ruth Built.