October’s clock is counting down to Fright Night, when ghosts, demons, superheroes and video game characters flit through the darkness in search of sugar and vandalism.
It’s possible to feel the tension. Children are vibrating in anticipation of the night when outlawry is socially approved. It won’t even be necessary to have a gun to rob people. Just beat on their doors and demand entrance.
Halloween has changed a lot in my lifetime. When I was a kid, the night wasn’t successful unless you returned home with serious drag marks on the pillow case, duffel bag or parachute you used to collect candy.
Nobody back then went trick-or-treating dressed up as a cowboy, clown, princess, football player or some other lame character. Halloween was supposed to be scary.
Vampires, witches, ax murderers, zombies — these were the stuff of real Halloween. Any kid who showed up as a hobo or Roy Rogers got pantsed.
Back then it was hard to be regarded seriously as a trick-or-treater if you arrived on someone’s doorstep stark naked but for a pair of holstered cap pistols.
Today, it’s considered a success if a kid dressed up as a Mormon home teacher comes home with a lunch sack containing more candy than it does business flyers, religious tracts or nonsugar items.
The big change for me is that this will be the first Halloween since being married that I won’t have to answer the door for pint-size extortionists.
Also, I won’t have to ignore the sound of the doorbell. Our recent move placed us behind a locked fence in the back of a duplex. We aren’t even on the radar of the most avaricious Disney princesses or Mutant Turtles.
Meanwhile, in another part of the home, the doorbell won’t stop ringing until well after 2 a.m. or the police are called because some teenagers want some free candy.
In either case, I won’t care because I’ll be unconscious. Two minutes after an Amazon rental episode of “The Mentalist” ends, I’ll be gone.
Note: Apologies to Mark Koelbel, Shauna Lake and Sterling Poulson, but I don’t wait up for the news much these days.
So how do the wife and I plan to celebrate Halloween? Well, she will decorate the house and bake things I no longer can eat, and I’ll give expert costume advice to those of my grandchildren who still trick or treat.
A good example of this is the advice I gave 3-year-old Ada, who plans to go as Rapunzel. I offered to show her places in her costume where she could conceal a grenade or some pepper spray.
Ada said she didn’t need any of that stuff, that she was going to be a “nice tricker-or-treater” so she could be beautiful and get lots of candy. It’s a role she’s been dying to play all year.
I suggested it might be better to go as a mean witch. I could even rig her broom into a stun wand for use on people who weren’t nice, like rude boys who might want to pull her long hair.
Ada • “Papa, witches turn people into frogs.”
Me • “And Papas turn boys who grab princesses into roadkill.”
You can’t be too careful these days. Maybe I might need to follow all my granddaughters around Halloween night in case a little “trick and beating” becomes necessary.