We’re two days away from the kickoff of the holiday season known as Hallowthanksmas Year’s EveDay. Your loins should be fully girded, because it’s going to be mandatory festiveness for months.
First up, of course, is Halloween on Tuesday, and so we offer this refresher course on trick-or-treat etiquette:
Kids: There’s only one thing adults want from trick-or-treaters. Well, two things, the first being: “Don’t be 17, uncostumed, sullen and smelling of cigarettes.” Adults want a little bit of gratitude.
Not because we feel we deserve it because we’re giving you candy. It’s not like we took the dog sled 20 miles to the outpost to trade some beaver pelts for Kit-Kats. No, we yearn to be thanked because we want to know that you know your manners — and that you have realized that adults can be placated with a rote mumble of appreciation.
If I encounter trick-or-treaters who don’t thank me, I offer a hint by asking them, “And what’s the magic word?”
When they roll their eyes and grumble, “Thank you,” I correct them:
“That’s two magic words. The magic word I was looking for was Naggushumagarath, which summons the nameless eternal being destined to consume the world, but we dare not speak his name. Oops; just did. Well, I’ve had a good, long life.”
Acceptable candy: Major brands; something from the tart food group, like Smarties. Fruit is OK, providing you say “Just kidding” and then drop Milky Ways the size of railroad spikes in their bags.
Unacceptable candy: Loose Altoids; anything with the word “metholyptus”; Choco-covered Razorettes; Necco wafers, the poker chips of candy; dollar-store knockoffs like Musty Way or Butterfungus. Do not get out your whittlin’ knife and say, “Let me shave off a little Zagnut for you there.”
Debatable: Jolly Ranchers, which are essentially fossilized rubber.
Adults: You might think that you’re immune to the silly frights of Halloween, but there’ll be something a bit scary afoot. I don’t mean the fear of someone injecting rat poison into malted milk balls — that’s ridiculous. The balls just break apart. (And, just for the record, I’m not speaking from personal experience.)
It’s this. When the kids are at the door shouting “Trick or treat!” there’s often an adult in the shadows, face illuminated by an unreal glow. Sounds creepy, right?
It’s you, looking down at your phone, missing your child growing up.