Expect to work for that PayDay, trick-or-treaters

Halloween’s tomorrow and I’m ready. Red licorice and Skittles fill our drawers, while countless bags of mini-Butterfingers, Kit-Kats and Snickers rest on the counter. Now I just need something for the trick-or-treaters.

Halloween is more popular than ever. Fitting, too, in that it so perfectly represents the average American in 2013: frightening-looking people dressed in hideous garb — pretending to be something they’re not — going around demanding handouts.

So different than when I was a kid, when we had to work for our reward.

OK, so maybe saying “Trick or Treat” doesn’t constitute work in your book, but egging and toilet-papering the houses of those who would give you apples or toothbrushes instead of candy took a modicum of ambition I fail to see in today’s youth.

Last year “Batman” showed up at my door. It was a slow night, so I was quick on the draw. I was in a good mood and clutching a bowl full of chocolate bars. In other words, an easy target. Even a lame costume and unenthusiastic “trick or treat?” would have garnered four mini-Snickers. Yet for some reason, the kid just stood there, pillowcase open. He’s a quiet one, that caped crusader.

I waited patiently for a solicitation, refusing to hand anything over until his part of the Halloween societal contract had been fulfilled. His mom probably thought I was a jerk, which I am, but that’s beside the point. Remember at the end of “Saving Private Ryan,” when Tom Hanks’ character is dying, and whispers, “Earn this Ryan. Earn this.” That’s how I felt with little Batman.

“What do you say?” I asked, displaying the candy bars prominently, acting as the proverbial carrot reward.

Silence.

I’m not good at conflict. I can’t win a stare-off with a 250-pound drunk guy at a bar, but I can definitely win a silence contest with an 8-year-old dressed in plastic on my front porch. So I stood my ground, refusing to give him anything until he spoke up. Yes, I would have felt horrible had he been deaf or mute, but I was willing to take a chance.

Crickets chirping.

After what seemed like forever, Bruce Wayne gave up and decided to seek greener pastures. I stopped him before he could leave the porch, giving him about 10 candy bars because:

(1) I pegged him as an innocent victim who hadn’t been taught proper trick-or-treat etiquette. It’s like the loutish people you get stuck sitting next to at a wedding reception dinner who drop F-bombs and who grab the fork with their entire hand. Sure they’re uncouth idiots, but since they were raised that way, you have to cut them some slack.

(2) There’s something to be said for a kid who walks away quietly and doesn’t talk smack to you. We need to reward this type of behavior.

(3) My blood sugar level does not need the input of 81 leftover mini-Snickers bar.

So I don’t give out candy unless the child specifically asks for it. The exception is for a child too young to talk. My two-year-old son, Ben, for example, won’t be saying “trick or treat” tomorrow night. He only knows two words, “no” and “truck,” and even one of them sounds like a very bad word.

I’ll play along with the kids unable to speak. But in those cases where say, the trick-or-treater is 1 or 2 years old, I hand out exactly one mini-Snickers bar only. Anything above that is going to be snatched away and gobbled up by a hungry mom post-bedtime. Kids deserve their sugar rush, but I refuse to subsidize adult type-2 diabetes.

So that’s my heartless stand on Halloween. Kids, if you don’t say “trick-or-treat,” you don’t get any candy. Please don’t egg my house.

Reach Steve at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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