Jesus, what a pathetic showing. Saturday it rained hard late afternoon and early evening, so that explains why we didn't get any then. But we didn't get any at night either, despite it being Saturday night with no school the next day. Tonight we got exactly one, a little girl, or maybe two if you count her 2 year-old brother being escorted via stroller by their parents. How castrated has this society become when a kindergarten girl has more guts than males of any trick-or-treating age?
I even got somewhat dressed up and waited for them outside, so it's not as though there were a lot of them who for some reason didn't approach our house. I only saw one trick-or-treater making the rounds on the other side of the street, and again it was a tiny little girl. Hey Millennial boys -- grab your sack and go trolling for some candy. You might become a man yet, but not the way things have been going.
At least I brought a book and got some reading done. I sat out there from 7 to 8:30 and retired after that; no one knocked after I headed inside.
You know, I didn't even see any teenagers out pressing their luck to get some free sweets, let alone egging the houses of their enemies from school, let alone toilet-papering anyone's house. I know they wear costumes and go to parties, but being huddled around a game of beer pong, with everyone but the two players being bored out of their minds, is no replacement for the thrill of "TP-ing" or "wrapping" someone's house, as they used to say back when adolescents still acted wild.
I got all pumped up a couple weeks ago when I heard a toddler in the row behind me on a plane reciting the classic "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat," despite his mom telling him to stop. Elsewhere on this blog I've covered the theme of children not knowing most of these subversive and gross-out songs and folklore (like when was the last time you heard 1st graders singing "99 bottles of beer on the wall"?). So I was thankful to hear at least one little booger keeping the tradition alive -- though he did leave out the killer concluding line of "If you don't, I don't care -- I'll pull down your underwear!"
But that (tempered) enthusiasm isn't translating into behavior. I know Halloween's been dying at least since I kept informal track of it while passing out candy in high school (mid-late '90s), but to only see two kids out just blew my mind. And of course both had their parents not just there but literally hovering over their shoulder the whole time, but you take what you can get. I guess their older siblings are too shackled to their Xbox 360 or Facebook chat window to escort their little brothers and sisters, a truly disgusting abdication of the "cool older brother/sister" role. (That was still going as of 1995, judging from the Halloween episode of My So-Called Life.) Is that what the anti-addiction ads of 2020 will look like? -- a parent discovers that his son is a loser who makes video games a part-time job, only to be told "I learned it from watching YOU, Dad!"
Both families were blue-collar, by the way. I can't begin to imagine how dead trick-or-treating must be in lacrosse-and-SAT-tutoring neighborhoods. Working-class parents know that their kids will face a more dangerous world, so they don't try to insulate them as much while they're growing up -- they've got to learn a certain amount of toughness. Although hovering, the little girl's parents didn't fetch the candy for her -- they at least prodded her to work up the guts to approach a zombie stranger and say "trick or treat."
Since kids these days are so damn coddled, I made sure to give her a little scare and said, "Trick or treat? Hmmm, I don't know which one... have you been bad or good?" I was going to give her two of each candy no matter what she said, either rewarding her for not blowing society up or for having some rambunctious fun every once in awhile. The point was just to throw her a curveball and show her that the social real world isn't so simple to navigate. Yeah yeah, I know, like she'll really turn out different, but you never know, and I'm certainly not going to be part of the wussification problem.
So many people whine about "the commercialization of ____" -- Halloween, Christmas, etc. -- but I'll take that any day. At least it shows that most people still care about it, or else the sellers' pleading would fall on deaf ears. Cynical hack moralists love taking this route, especially in the form of documentary movies, but as usual they're clueless. In popular culture, the portrayal that's closest to reality is a fantasy -- The Neverending Story, where cultures are swallowed up by their own apathy, by the Nothing. The Grinches and Scrooges can only sink a holiday when its one-time celebraters have stopped giving a shit about it anymore.