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The Truth About Halloween
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Halloween is here again. Nothing beats putting on a mask and prowling the streets at night. (Ask Batman) Unfortunately I'm too old to do that without getting arrested. I can only recall fondly the distant days when it was a thrill just to be out after dark. The crunch of desiccated leaves under my feet, the skeletal trees leaning out over the sidewalks, the way night transformed the familiar neighborhood into a eerie, alien landscape full of secrets.

Oh hell...I'd never have gone out in the cold except for the treats.

I hate the cold. That trick-or-treat bag used to get heavy and my hand would turn numb hanging onto it. But when I got back home, upended the bag over the table and spilled out a mountain of chocolate and candy corn, that made the misery worthwhile.

Of course there were always apples. They fit in with the season. My friends and I hated people giving out apples. Apples were too heavy to cart around and anyway no one goes out in the cold for fruit. Our parents were always nagging us to eat fruit. Today fears about concealed razor blades have pretty much put an end to Halloween apples. I doubt kids are shedding any tears over that.

It was always the retired folks who had the bowl of apples in the hallway by the door. Naturally, they were the ones who always insisted we come inside and perform for our treats too. Back where I grew up the Puritans had got their oar in. It was more like work-for-treat. We were required to sing a song, or tell a joke or recite a poem. Somehow we never had the courage to explain things to these misguided adults. "I'm afraid we've got a little misunderstanding here. The way it works, see, is you hand over the treats or we come back and soap your windows, or smash a pumpkin on your porch. I don't know where you got this recite-a-poem stuff from. What part of "Trick" don't you understand?"

We preferred the people who couldn't be bothered to get into the spirit of things. The ones who opened the door a crack, tossed some money in our bags and sent us on our way. The money was what we preferred. A quarter would buy more penny candy than most people would give out. It was better value and lighter to carry. We couldn't help noticing, the bigger the house, the more likely we were to get money rather than candy.

Some years my friends' parents drove us to the upscale development nearby. The people up on the hill put dollar bills in our bags.

Ever notice how tall kids are today? I wonder, if I put on a mask, and slouched...

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