I’m part of an online writer’s group that meets on Thursday nights. Our moderator posts a series of prompts, and then we have to write on on for 20 minutes. then, we read each others’ and provide feedback. this is what I worked on last wee for the prompt “Memoir: I still remember the Halloween…”. I still haven’t incorporated the changes I want based on the feedback I got. And also, I went long on my time, writing for closer to 45 minutes. Sometimes that happens.
I still remember the Halloween I quit Halloween. Or at least the trick-or-treating part. By which I mean, the part where I open my door for strangers to offer them treats. Yes, I know that makes me sound like the Ebenezer Scrooge of the holiday, crushing the candy-covered dreams of costumed kids everywhere. But I still don’t do it.
I haven’t always eschewed treat-giving. Once upon a time, I looked forward to ooh-ing and ah-ing over all the little princesses, pirates, lions, and tigers, and Dorothys, and bears…oh my! It made me happy to buy the good candy, not the cheap Dollar Store stuff, and wait at the front door to watch their delight as I bestowed upon them not one, not two, but a small handful of goodies. I smiled. I laughed with them. I loved them and the whole thing.
And then I moved into [redacted] Apartment Complex. That place killed my Halloween spirit.It didn’t happen right away of course. No, it took its sweet time. It started with the the Halloween all the cars in the parking lot were egged–not a cool trick. I washed my car. We all did. I may or may not have hurled some threats at some potentially guilty-looking preteens. Feeling somewhat vindicated, I went on to offer treats another year.
But this time around, some “kids” knocked on my door and demanded treats. They weren’t even in costume, which I pointed out. They laughed and told me to give them some damn candy. They were a menacing little posse, so I was just thankful I’d been relieved only of my candy stash. As a single woman, I didn’t really feel that comfortable. But I wasn’t giving up on Halloween yet.
I got a guard dog. Ok–I got a new friend, Penny–and not because of Halloween. It just so happens she became a guard dog. My neighbors thought she was a Rottweiler puppy when I brought her home. I let them think that because it bought me some street cred, which went a long way at [redacted] Apartment Complex.
Another Halloween: some of the younger kids in the complex–all decked out in Halloween gear, came door to door for treats. Great. I knew a lot of these younger kids, and I felt bad for them living in what I’d come to think of as a run-of-the-mill hellhole. Their parents didn’t even accompany them. One of these little guys was familiar to me because he’d often stop by on weekend mornings to ask for cereal–because his mom was “sleeping,” and he couldn’t find any food. “Sleeping” in that place meant “passed out cold drunk or from a close-to-overdose.” We shared a lot of cereal. When they came to the door, it was still light out–early evening, but the sun was setting. I had already determined to leave the porch light off once the sun went down and just watch movies with Penny the rest of the night.
The sun went down. The light went off. The movie came on. Penny and I snuggled up on the couch when suddenly there came a frantic knocking on the door. Penny started barking to beat the band, lunging at the window as she was (and still is) wont to do. I peered through the peephole and saw one of the younger kids from earlier. She was a 6th grader who I sometimes let use my computer to do research on the Internet for school projects. She was still in costume, and one of those felt Halloween bags dangled precariously from her arm, threatening to spill its candy contents on my doorstep. I let her in; she barreled past me: “Shut the door! Shut the door!”
Um. Ok. So I ask her why: “What’s going on?”
“They’re coming,” she tells me and throws herself down on the floor to hug Penny.
Before she can answer, another round of frantic knocking starts at the door. Penny jumps up and pyhsically assualts the window near the door, barking at her highest volume. The girl looks at me with horror and says, “Don’t open it.”
So I check to see who it is through the peephole. The cereal kid is there. With another little girl. So I open the door, and they, too rush in past me, panting: “Shut the door!”
At this point, I have no idea what’s going on, so I quiz them all some more. They tell me some of the bigger kids are chasing them, stole some of their candy, knocked them down, and were all around being the sort of big, bad bullies kids have been fearing for decades.
Fine. They could stay here until the coast was clear. Apparently, my apartment was a safe place.
After twenty or so minutes, I decided that we should check out the situation outside, and then Penny and I could all walk with them to their respective units. Good plan. Until I opened the door. And three “big kids” nearly rushed me. Penny went ballistic, I went ballistic, the kids went ballistic, and we slammed the door to our safe place. And then…BAM! BAM! BAM!
Those bastards were whaling on my door. “Open the door! Trick-or-Treat! Open the door!” Penny did her best Rottweiler the whole time. The kids did their best renditions of frightened kids, and I started screaming back at the door: “Go away! Go Away! No!”
The banging would stop, and then start again. It was ridiculous. I called the police, but it was Halloween night, and we lived in the sort of place where it takes a while for the police to get there. So we waited. And then the banging again. And laughing. Those little bastards were laughing, howling with laughter, really. All while terrorizing a handful of little kids (and me…and Penny). And they weren’t leaving. They thought it was funny.
Finally, I opened the door (the kids warned me the whole time not to), and, holding Penny by the collar (still doing her best Rottweiler, God love her), and a butcher knife in the other, I screamed: “Get the [redacted] away from my door! So help me if you put your hand on it one more time, it will be the last thing you ever touch because I will not only release this dog on you (insert well rehearsed growl here from Penny), I will cut your hands off. Do you understand me?”
Sometimes a little false bravado and a tough-girl vernacular goes a long way. It did that night. But I wasn’t about to try it again in another year when those “big kids” would be packing 9-millimeters. I was ready to move.
And though I have since lived in other, far more respectable neighborhoods, I still don’t do treats for Halloween. I turn the porch light off when the sun goes down, and I barricade us all inside with movies and eat and wait the night out.