Each year for the last five years I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters who graced our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood interconnectedness and benevolent snack donation. Up to 2007 we lived in a secluded section-8 apartment that roving candy-hoarders easily overlooked. After we became first-time homeowners, our first Halloween in the new house blew us away as the head count soared without warning from zero to dozens. Our supplies were exhausted so quickly that a few poor stragglers were cursed with rejected Easter leftovers. Three cheers for the eternal freshness of American preservatives.
Since 2008 I’ve always tried to take attendance through the night. Previous years’ head counts were as follows:
This year’s experience performed like so:
First TOTer arrival time: 6:01 p.m.
Final TOTer departure time: 7:59 p.m.
Total number of trick-or-treaters for 2012: 58
Gain/loss from Halloween 2011: -21.62%
That decrease is marginally less alarming than the 2010-2011 drop of -33.93%. Any number of factors could have diminished this year’s turnout. It was a school night, unlike the last two weeks’ worth of fall recess. Temperatures were in the 40s, never a hospitable environment for the more fragile, mollycoddled children out there. Perhaps kids across America were preparing for tonight’s new episode of The X-Factor and wanted to secure their seating positions so they wouldn’t miss a thing. None of this dented the steely resolve of my generation from making their appointed October 31st rounds. If and when a viable time-travel system is operational and fully funded, my first experiment will be to abscond with my younger self and some of my childhood friends, bring me/them here, and see if my generation can teach this generation a lesson about what childhood should look like.
Costumes this year included but weren’t limited to:
1 burlap Ghostface
hot dog with mustard
ballerina (Bunheads pride?)
2 hooded skullfaces
1 unhooded skullface
Lady Captain America
box of Mike & Ike’s candy
2 Roaring-’20s gangsters
leathery cat-eared something with skirt
Most bizarre costumes: a pair of older teenage girls in matching Buzz Lightyear footie pajamas. I regret to report that many costumes were hard to distinguish because winter coats make it hard to appreciate the artistry of the store-bought uniforms they conceal.
Most amusing guest: a two-year-old scarecrow who, when I opened the door, waved and yelled, “HIIII!” He weaved around my legs and into our living room, then yelled, “HIIII!” to my wife, who returned the greeting and gently escorted him back to his mark so that we could restart the scene from the top. It’s not uncommon for some beginners to require a little extra direction and maybe some notes on their performance.
A few of tonight’s entrants observed the necessary skills I outlined in a previous entry. Alas, more than a few kids merely stood and stared at me as if tonight were BMV practice. I expected it from the under-6 set; when it’s coming from teens old enough to drive, you get one piece of candy deducted from your handout, replaced with my fervent hopes that someday you find the self-improvement life lessons you need.
Extra credit is owned to the two kids who complimented our cute little dog, and the three who went above and beyond with jubilant wishes of “Happy Halloween!”, which made up for some of the silent, passive panhandlers who couldn’t be bothered to say their lines. Exemplary recognition is awarded to young Lady Cap for complimenting my outdoor decorations. I kept myself on a stricter budget this year and did the best I could with what I had on hand. I’m glad it wasn’t all in vain.
Special note for my neighbors: if any of you is missing a white pillowcase with butterflies on it, please let me know. Your child, or possibly a bully, left it on our lawn. It was empty when I found it and doesn’t match any of our sheet sets.