Happy Halloween everyone! Keeping the fundamental tradition of Halloween strong by celebrating my 17th year in my old neighborhood! By now you are familiar with my annual ritual, so there is no surprise that i kept up with the tradition of trick or treating and of course my post Halloween commentary.
Before i begin my adventure, i wanted to briefly talk about a first for me this year- my FIRST trick or treaters came to my door! every year i make sure to have candy out and ready- even if nobody takes it. Well around 7 i get a knock at the door?? Holy shit- is it true?? A family of Mexicans all dressed up, even the Dad wanted in on the candy. I was ecstatic, here it is my first ever trick or treaters to my home. This marks a significant moment for me and my neighborhood, because up until this point, most people took their kids to better neighborhoods to trick or treat. haha you want a real haunted house- go check out the sexual predator listed as living down a few blocks over. I gave them all candies and complimented them on their awesome costumes- but then i noticed somebody standing outside. My neighbor has this little neglected Haitian boy that doesnt speak much English. His Mother is constantly on the phone, and he spends most of his afternoons and weekends just staring at the fence. Well i saw him doing what he does best, nothing, and realized it was Halloween and he probably doesnt have a costume. So i run inside and grab a spare Guy Fawkes mask form my room- and knock on my neighbors door. After a long delay, his mom comes out with her usual phone in one ear- and i said "hey i noticed your boy outside and thought he might not have a costume for tonight, i thought maybe he can have this?" and she smiled and said in her finest creole accent "no, i will not be giving him that". I awkwardly smile and said "well ok, just thinkin you know, just lookin out... well good night!". I was devastated for this little guy. What the fuck are you doing to this poor kid, here he is in America where you dont need SHIT tonight, all you need is a mask and you can get tons of candy. its your chance to be a ghoul and collect. All the kids at school will have candy and fun- but no not you. You force him to stay inside while you babysit your television. I was ready to take him with me- what a fucking trip that would be lmao. Just imagine me and little kindred, like training day. Perhaps she is religious and forbade him from celebrating? So i dedicate this night for you, little kindred of next door, to you and all like you.
This year, as with every year, i greet the evening with anticipation and a bit of natural apprehension. There is always a part of me that cant wait to go out; then naturally as a sane adult there is a small bit of reluctance. But when i get phone calls of encouragement from my friends, eager to see if i'm still going to go- I laugh and they cheer with delight; with a slight touch of envy they explain to me how they wish they could do the same thing. Some phone calls i got this year telling me that they actually went for the first time, now that they have children of their own- and say things like "now i know why you been doing it all this time". Stories about how they got to scare other kids and parents, got tons of candy- all that is the spirit i love to hear about and glad to have inspired it. I assure you it takes less fortitude and more principle, to propel an adult to go door to door after 17 years. Coupled with the fact i am a creature of habit, i go every year not only to retain the spirit of Halloween first and foremost, but also just because ive been doing it for this long, who am I to stop now? You know the story of that old guy in China that never moved so the Govt was forced to build a highway around his home? i applaud him.
Preparing is never complicated- ive retained the same costume perfectly in tact and ready for its sole use. The cloak never could get any more shorter- going up to about my shins. Ide say its skin tight nature, my hairy legs and sneakers that stick out form underneath it- add to an alternative costume- that of a deranged manchild that haunts you since you can remember, one day a year. i may get one or sometimes two people that ask me "arent you a little old?" when i assure them that i am 13, the usual reaction is of embarrassment and noticeable reflection of how out of touch they are with the size of 13 year olds. Somebody may raise a finger at my age, and i can quickly dispel any conspiracy with my quick answer then rebuttal "how old is too old?" someone said that 17 is the cut off- i laughed and said "Well then, i'll see you for the next five years". I hope they are keeping close count.
Then there is the mask, which has held up pretty excellent considering its age. however, due to the fluctuations in heat in my closet- some of the rubber is starting to melt and distort. So my mask is a bit warped, but it still does its job just the same. I always laugh when i remember about ten years ago i couldnt find my mask, my mother may have hidden it from me that year- but do you think that stopped me? I wore a black shirt in a ninja style mask. This by far, was the only year people were generally disturbed when answering the door- but i persevered onward.
The reception from my genuine friends are always welcomed, naturally. When i tell my girlfriends about my quest, in the back of my head i am always crossing my fingers they understand my eccentricities and dont think of me as an absolute lunatic. Maybe its in the delivery of why i do it, the sociological aspects and how i take the preservation of Halloween absolutely serious is what amuses them. Or perhaps its the boat loads of sweet candy that they entertain me. My lady this year actually asked enthusiastically if she can go with me. haha i am tickled at the idea, however we both agreed it would be best if i tended to my own devices. Nobody would dare protest anyways, or else they would not get a cut of the sweet spoils.
Every year i always save my old next door neighbors house for last. Its always a pleasure to see him, i ran into him early as he was taking out the trash and he gave me a big hug. He asked the usual questions- how are you doing, how is my business going, how are my parents. His wife is always sleeping upstairs and never gets to see me, but always asks "do you think hes coming tonight?" he always says yes- but i wonder if she ever has her doubt if hes totally fucking with her. But knowing me, i doubt it. I am a bit stubborn when i put my mind to it- and if that means going out on Halloween for the better part of 2 decades, than yes it seems plausible.
(Got me some new walkin shoes)
As i was making the long trek to Jupiter, i can only remissness about old Halloweens, my parents, childhood friends etc. They moved the parking space by the old playground a couple years ago- the same playground me and my best friend used to sneak into on Saturday nights to hang out. We used to make calls to girls using my fathers gigantic huge brick "cellular" phone technology. Him and I spoke later that evening and he told me a good story of how serious Halloween is where he lives now, in Philadelphia. Ive always heard about how serious they take the holiday up there and cant wait to be up there one day around this time- my kind of people. Passing by old mailbox i think about how me and my dad used to walk my old dog Charlie. Its funny how transient people in Florida can be, new people in and out all the time- but a piece of my history was here in this neighborhood and at the very least im hoping a bit of a subdued legacy still floats here every time of year.
I parked my car, put my mask on- and checked to see if anybody was watching. Not that i'm doing anything wrong mind you- but i have been doing this long enough where i don't want to arouse suspicion or stir any bird cages. I want to avoid getting arrested for some obscure reason and having to be in the front headlines of the palm beach post (again). I mentally plan my route and begin knocking on doors. The first house is always the most humiliating. I always cringe behind my mask at the first house, i laugh and mutter to myself "what the hell am i doing" or "oh lord, i cant believe i'm out here again haha". The first house this year was a no show. Lights on inside, i can see them watching television but nobody answering... this is a reoccurring sad theme for the next SEVERAL houses. Plenty of lights inside but no porch light on? Surely nobody is sleeping- its Friday night. In fact, this is an excellent night for Halloween- what gives? I would say out of the couple hundred houses in my old neighborhood- only a little under 2 dozen actually answered. This was such a disappointment! I do this shit every year, without skipping a single beat- because if i did they would have an excuse not to do it the next year. Nobody can EVER say- oh we didn't buy candy because nobody came last year.
Eventually after knocking on several doors, i got an answer and candy flowed accordingly. Im determined as ever, knocking on every door- i'll wait a maximum of 10 seconds if they dont answer to maximize my efficiency. When you're a kid, you have your slow parents that weight you down- I'm marching in a strafe formation, zigzag, and up/down my neighborhood with a military precision. I'm not as aggressive as i was when i was about 14, i would sit and bang on the door until they came just to personally see to the guilty look in their eye and question themselves the rest of the night. There is absolutely no reason why you couldn't have spent .99 on some candy- and its only the largest grossing holiday 2nd only to Christmas- as if you didn't remember. This is the agreement- Trick or treat, if this were the 1980s, your house would be layered in eggs and your trees festooned in toilet paper. I continue on knocking, thinking of little kindred at home staring at that fence fueling my every step.
The select few that did remember the holiday and answered their doors, gave me the usual "no other kids out? well, you're the only one this year". I hear this every year, its a goddamn shame- this is exactly why im here old man, its for the principle of the matter. I didnt see a single other kid out there- i suppose they dressed up as some hollywood blockbuster in a bag costume and begged stores in the mall for a single tootsie roll. That is a sad existence my friends. Im glad to have memories of what halloween used to be like- and especially the aftermath of halloween when the big kids were done with their mischief. That shit would be felonious these days, but back then it was just part of the ritual. I only saw 1 house thisyear with a real cut jackolantern, and yes- NO candy. You may already know my biggest pet peeves are houses with a number of decorations, with NO CANDY or not even bothering to answer the door. Fucking hypocrites. I saw one house had just a pumpkin sitting outside, as if their lazy asses didnt even give a shit enough to carve it. All fucks were absent that night. Do you think they answered their door? No. This blank pumpkin stared at me as i waited, was a miserable reminder of the forgotten holiday, that i fight so hard to retain. One house had a massive purple, inflatable spider that was lit up- and NO candy. A couple people answered the door, surprised to see me, as if i was some ancient fossil trick or treating coming to their door step, and had to audacity to tell me "sorry i dont have any candy". My modern response is to stand there, look them in the eye and say "No. Candy." linger for a moment, create such an awkward air that can only be filled with some pathetic excuse, and then walk off. Im too old to really seek retribution for this gross disrespect of the holiday- but time is of the essence and i only have an hour to complete the mission.
I was disappointed when both of my old house addresses didn't answer this year. Its so strange walking by my old bedroom window, knowing i used to sleep inside there for years and now i'm a stranger standing outside it. At my second house, when i stood on the wooden entrance, i can almost hear my old dog barking. I walk by the old patio where i first honed by backyard graffiti skills. This year was so many people giving up on participating or even answering the door. The non believers would have to put cardboard over their windows before- to avoid the knocks. Now its simple- the porch light is off and im in plain view watching television- go fuck yourself. Luckily for me though, the ones that did answer sometimes would feel the need to over compensate and then dish out tons of candy. Fat people buy the best candy too by the way, most likely in hopes nobody comes- and thats when i benefit. The most candy i got this year came from a familiar house, you may remember from last year, the English lady that gave me ll their kids candy as well as bringing out leftover valentines day candy haha. Well this year she had an enormous dish of candy and again- her two depressed kids stood witness as she dished out TONS of candy to me. Later on, when i was inspecting my sack, i found this ziplock bag that made me laugh. It read "Jennifer's boys" haha Sorry kids- those are the breaks! To the victor, goes the M&Ms.
I noticed the little old lady that always had awesome candy and kick ass decorations didnt answer and had no decorations out this year. I wondered to myself, did she give up? did they move her away into a home? Did she die? The thought depresses me, but i always appreciated her festivity and efforts. I always compliment anyone who decorates their house and thank everyone for the candy. But old people like her come from a time when EVERYONE went out, and in their minds they are always still a decade behind- perplexed at why there is no one out there anymore. How do i explain to Grandmah that kids are too busy sexting on their iphones and shopping at the mall to be going door to door- besides thats dangerous! Grandmah, this is exactly why i maintain my vigilance. I am the ghost of 1980s Halloween past, here to haunt the future, forever.
There was one lady around my age who answered the door with way too much cleavage and AWESOME candy. I could swear i remember her from the year before? I don't want to sound presumptuous, but she looked a bit too excited to see me. Lady, i dont know if 6'1 skeletons dressed as the grim reaper is your thing too; but not today lol. In an Adam Sandler voice- i do believe i have some candy to attend to.
The entire back swing of my neighborhood was a miss, no answer, none here, nope, abandoned, no answer, finally a house with a light on and a large woman walking toward her car with her little kid. I walked toward her house she just left- awkwardly i could feel her watching me so i put on quite a show for her. She may have wondered what the hell i was doing there. I walked to her door, knocked, held my bag up with my hands, waited, waited, and then slung my head down and shlepped my feet as i walked away in an exaggerated, defeated manner. She then stopped me and said "WAIT WAIT!!" She runs into the house from her car, and sprints outside and said "HERE, take this because....." and starts to dish out fist fulls of candy. "because..." more fist fulls. "Take his because.... I uh" i'm thinking ok lady now you got me wondering here. "take this because.... because i didnt leave any candy out". so i laughed and replied "Awesome, guilt candy!". I thanked her and went on my merry way, several pounds heavier. As i mentioned before, although barely any houses answered their doors- the ones that did, certainly overcompensated.
I ran into a pair of rednecks about my age who were sitting outside, smoking cigs and drinking beer with candy bowls in front of them. They were heckling me to come over earlier- but it wasnt on my route just yet, then finally they were my last stop. I dont think they didnt realize how large i was until i actually got closer- they were the ones who told me about the cut off at 17 haha. When i was moving toward the east side of the neighborhood- i actually spotted some teenagers entering my neighborhood from military trail! I then remembered during the last few years they built a whole development next door where the woods used to be- they probably live there and thought they could spill over to my hood for more candy, ingenious! I was so excited to see other people out, you realize when you wear a mask you start to lose all self identity and I felt like a kid out there again. Seeing them made me want to go venture into foreign territory when i was done with my shift, if there was still time. My cut off has always been 9ish respectfully, which works out great because most of the kids would quit before it was even dark.
After hauling several pounds of sweet candy, i start to perspire. This in turn makes my skin tight cloak cling to my body- exposing a bit of honesty and the outline of a full grown man. This is usually around the same time people ask how old i am. Not once has anybody ever been angry or in fear- its always jovial. I get a few startled people, then a compliment of my mask. At the very worst, i may get a stare after i walk away to see if my intentions were poor, and i never disappoint them. I'm all about getting the candy, keeping with the spirit, freaking out and moving on. I don't mind the question of my age- but one thing I've NEVER been asked, which i secretly hope for every time is "How many years have you been coming here" only then will i give an honest answer to such an honest question. No accusations of age, just a legitimate question. Not one person has ever asked themselves "hey you know that only guy that has been coming to our door, same costume, every year since we moved here- hes got to be at least 18 now right?". Since most of my friends have kids these days, it wouldn't be too unbelievable if i had one of my own out there. How funny would it be if one year the dude who comes to your door every year all of a sudden has a kid- "Oh for the love of.... you got to at least be 25 right?!? you got kids now"
In the beginning of the night, i was asking myself if this would be my last year- but only a few houses deep and i realize how incredibly fun it is, and how i wish other people were out too. I was genuinely having a fun time, and made a promise to myself that i'm going to do this the rest of my life. I had a blast and got tons of candy, i just wish i could scare people and give out candy too. I thought about the knock i got on my door tonight, how one day i'm going to live in a big neighborhood- and i'm going to be that guy who goes all out. Spider webs, spooky music, ghosts, tombstones the whole nine yards. Maybe even a haunted garage? Tons of candy for the kids, scaring the shit out of everybody by popping out of the bushes etc. Its fun to scare people- and Halloween is the only night they don't feel threatened by it, and even applaud it!
I finished my entire shift, for the first time a full 15 minutes early! Then i remembered the new development next door... So i slung my now swollen, heavy pillow sack over my back, jumped the fence and now was on military trail to venture into unknown territory. I was thinking in my head my neighborhood was practically touching the new development, but in reality its a good few hundred feet and time is money. So i try to do an awkward sprint- but with this heavy sack there is really no way of making this look cool. The sack is so heavy its throwing off my balance when i run with it. All your weight is swinging from one side, i cant have it on my back because it slaps your back and is uncomfortable. So i create a sort of weird dastardly run- that has one arm extended to counter balance the heavy opposing sack into this circular gyrating skip. Absolutely ridiculous if you can imagine. Then i enter the main entrance. "Shit, its an apartment complex". But surely if those teenagers came from this direction there was to be candy. So i walk on through a hallway an enter a main open courtyard with a dozen college kids not a few years my junior playing with their dogs. i awkwardly continue my quest through this neighborhood, commit to this man you have to now- i'm not leaving till i find some candy. Believe it or not, i actually find a garage door open with a girl and her pops- waving me over, desperate to give candy! "hey over here! we got candy!" i approach them and she goes "HOW old are you?" her dad tells her not to ask that, and i reply with my typical answer "i'm 13. thats not too old right?" She replies "Youre not 13!" her dad interrupts her and says "i remember when i was 13" taking my side over hers. He was a larger man, and i felt like his statement could have been a subliminal compliment to award my size. I thanked them and started to walk away- and in clear ear-shot, she says "he had to be at LEAST 15" and a part of me thought to myself its not my neighborhood and nothing would be stopping me from whipping my head back and saying in a deep voice ACTUALLY IM THIRTY ONE. But to my better judgment, i decided to go back to my car. If i can manage another year to go home with the gold and not get shot or arrested, ive served my purpose.
As the evening comes to a close, i ceremoniously swing my bag of candy all the way back to the car. At this point it doesnt really matter if anybody sees me leave, in fact it would be kind of funny. I remembered when i turned 16, i thought what an awesome advantage it would have been having a car. After i finished my neighborhood, i could drive over to rich peoples neighborhood i heard about and clean up out there. I even fantasized about keeping spare costumes in the car in case they were one of those rumored houses who gave full candy bars away. Well that year i did just that, you should have seen their rich faces when i pulled up into their drive way, got out and walked up to them for candy. Lousy cheapskates by the way, they places one tiny candy and it makes this long journey to down the bottom of my bag, my face following it all the way down in disbelief. I remember saying out loud as i walked back to my car "this shit isn't even worth the gas to come here" haha smart ass kid.
All in all, even though there was hardly any participants- a successful evening if i should say so. And of course, what post Halloween essay wouldn't be complete without a shot of THE BOOTY.
Halloween is a time where candy companies try and make experimental shit that they can fall back on or follow through with. This years prototype experimental candy was seeing companies ride the Reeses peanut butter cup train- by making their own spin offs. Butterfinger Cups and Snickers Cups were an interesting choice. A few bags of Reeses pieces which i haven't had in centuries were nice. At the bottom there are some office supplies lol. Thats because there is always a teacher at the same house that gives away crayons, pencils and pens to the kids- as well as candies. I always appreciated that, even to this day because i could use a new pencil. There was only ONE house this year i could remember that said "take a few"; they were all weird crap candy as if picked leftovers from last year they didn't eat. The candy wasn't even in a bowl or plastic cauldron- it was on a large piece of paper haha so ghetto. I usually make a mental note of the houses with "self service" like this so i can collect before i leave, but it wasn't worth it.
Every year i make note of the oddities. A gummi cheeseburger was by far the most interesting. A Chimes Ginger candy, Japanese restaurant quality there. Peanut Chews are a first. Werther's candies are the kind of stuff you find in the bottom of an old lady purse, there was no reason for this. Candy corn is disgusting but so classic, i fully appreciate it. A stray chocolate Easter egg is a pitiful reminder of when people stopped giving a fuck about buying candy for Halloween.
There is a multitude of reasons why i go out; it's fun, it's Halloween, it's candy- but it occurred to me that now its clear that because ive been doing this so long; there can be a story of a man who never quit. He never stopped when the social pressures made everyone else stand down. Just in case everyone i know doesn't have an interesting enough story to tell- they can at least say to people "i know a guy, that never quit- he still celebrates Halloween by going door to door and demanding candy".
Another successful year old friends, thanks for reading! see you next year.