It was a dark, quiet, and spooky Halloween night of 2006. All that could be heard was the whistling of the wind, a dog howling off in the distance, and the faint strains of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” from a local radio station.
You remember how Halloween used to be so much easier when you were a kid before the world began to change. People were friendlier and candy was cheaper, so they bought bigger bars and gave it out to trick-or-treaters readily. And you never needed to sue any of your neighbors for making you fat. Today young children can’t even play “hide and seek” anymore because of the one stupid kid who keeps hiding in an undisclosed location.
There was no need to visit different neighborhoods because people in your own town were always willing to open their doors. Some adults who were giving out candy even dressed up in costumes themselves. Granted, Mrs. Henderson was almost dressed as Elvira, Mistress of Mantua Avenue that one night, and that experience scarred you for about six years. But you eventually recovered from the apple cider hangover, and you now look back on Halloween as a pleasant, and learning, experience.
It was smart of you to talk things over with the girls, Paris and Nicole, and your son Billy before they went out trick-or-treating. There are bad people out there who would try to give you tainted candy, you told them. “Yeah, but aren’t some people giving away cars?” Billy answered.
You always told him that Oprah was only make-believe. You threatened to take away his daytime TV privileges but reconsidered, remembering how you may have helped to cause his confusion. It started around the day you told him that the tooth fairy didn’t leave any money underneath his pillow anymore because his job had been outsourced to Taiwan.
Anyway, Nicole was looking quite fashionable in the new costume she bought last week, the Martha Stewart #55170-054 jumpsuit. Meanwhile, deeply conflicted Billy spent all of his money on video games and had to design his own costume-the color coded terror alert chart- out of cardboard and papier-mâché.
So they started trick-or-treating at the Johnson’s home this year, stepping over about fourteen election signs in order to reach the door. The kids soon found out that the Johnsons were giving out those damn tiny Atkins-approved Snickers bars again.
But they didn’t let that discourage them. They got to the next house at the same time as some kid who was dressed up as David Caruso from CSI: Miami. The lady inside was handing out Win For Life New Jersey Lottery scratch off tickets instead of candy.
“A winning prize will insure your future,” she said.
“I promise to investigate the future extreme makeover of your trees with squeezeably soft Charmin,” replied Caruso.
On their way to the next house the children were confronted by a roving band of costumed musicians, kids dressed as Cat Stevens, Dan Fogelberg, and Huey Lewis, who threatened to steal the candy they had accumulated. Fortunately the weird kid in the Carrot Top costume was tagging along behind your kids and was able to call you with his extra minutes.
The next home the children came to was having a Halloween party in their back yard. Billy listened in from behind their fence as costumed spooks and goblins who were sitting around a campfire told horrifying stories about ghosts, haunted houses, and the 2000 Election.
Terrified, Billy ran away screaming. On his way back he got a ride from a kid who was carrying around a GPS receiver so his big brother could pick him up to drive him home from surrounding counties.
The scary and creepy Halloween of 2006 had been one the children would never forget. Paris got three full treat bags and $10 in coupons for Blockbuster from her interactive trick-or-treating. Billy had been less successful. He had gotten his share of candy, but after he got home he threw all of his G. I. Joe dolls in the trash because they didn’t come with the proper documentation of his war record in their original boxes.
But Billy began to feel better about three weeks later when he paid a return visit to the Johnson home one eerie night with one dozen Atkins approved eggs. And off in the distance the wind whistled an ominous and frightening tune: through the still remaining election signs.