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Halloween: Post Mortem

We get no trick-or-treaters at our house. Zero. So we went over to the home of some friends, who live on Capitol Hill.

When they invited us, they made it sound like it would be a delightful, relaxing evening. Some food. A little wine. The occasional interruption by visiting children. Little did we know that we were being conscripted to work in their candy-handing-out sweatshop.

The quantity of trick-or-treaters they expected to receive was described to us as "a lot." I took this to mean, like, 100. Instead, it was more like "a throng" or "a battalion" ... possibly even "a multitude." I don't know what time they opened their front door (the insanity was already well on its way by the time we arrived at 6:00), but it did not close again until well after 9:00. The stream of kidmanity was ceaseless.

Handing out candy was a three-person operation: two stood on either side of the door, frantically shoving Fun-Sized Snickers bars and Laffy Taffy into the gaping maws of waiting bags; the third served as a kind of bucket brigade, feverishly scooping tooth-rot from the supply barrel and feeding it to the hander-outers, to ensure that their ammunition never ran low. Any hesitation and we would get overwhelmed. At one point a surge of kids drove us back into the house; the doorframe filled with a mass of costume-clad bodies, threatening to explode into the foyer if the pressure behind them continued to swell. We began just hurling handfuls of candy at the crowd, the high-caloric equivalent of firing a shotgun indiscriminately into an approaching zombie horde.

Our friends had purchased 100 pounds of candy; by the end of the evening, every last Tootsie Roll had been distributed.

Some observations from the front lines:

  • The most common non-generic costume ("generic" being define as a mainstay: pirate, ninja, superhero, witch, sexy ______, etc.) was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. A surprising number Dorothys. But perhaps not as surprising as the four different kids dressed as bananas. Am I so out-of-touch that I've missed the resurgence of the banana as a pop culture icon?
  • Also in the "more popular than you'd expect" column: penguins, Boba Fett, Santa Claus.
  • Favorite costume (tie): the two teens dressed as Jemaine and Bret. Bret had disheveled hair and a guitar strapped to his back; Jemaine had muttonchops and was crooning about how he was going to buy us a kebab. When The Queen and I complemented them on their costumes, they looked astonished. "Do you know who we are?" one asked. Sure, the Flight of the Conchords guys, we replied. "You're the first people all night!" they cried. "We have a fan!"
  • Second favorite costume: kid dressed up like a box of Chinese take-out.
  • A homemade costume is, by default, 30 x more awesome than any store-bought costume. Fact! I would refer doubters to this photo.
  • On the porch, standing next to the door, was a plastic skeleton with a long, curly dark wig and gummy eyeballs in its sockets. Early in the night, one young boy looked at it and exclaimed, "It's Michael Jackson!" He wasn't joking; he honestly mistook it for Captain EO. We though that was pretty hilarious / odd. Then, an hour later, another kid had the exact same reaction. And 20 minutes later, another. All were totally sincere; we were completely baffled.

    At the end of the night a few of us stood around it, trying to figure out the resemblance. "Well, it doesn't have a nose," my friend observed. "And it's about the same shade of white."

  • The only thing more shameful than waking up after a night of heavy drinking to find a stranger in your bed is waking up the night after Halloween to find your jacket pocket literally bulging with empty candy wrappers.

Posted on November 01, 2007 to Seattle





Comments

My thought is that the resurgence of the banana costume can be attributed to the "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" guy.

Witnessed here:
http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/banana

And on Family Guy here:
http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1639351

The mind boggles.

Posted by: The Colonel on November 1, 2007 11:21 AM

We hit 100 kids...I actually kept a tally. My wife was sick and wanted nothing to do with the horde of kids so I manned the ramparts myself.

At one point I had 4 different kids show up wearing the "scream" costume in sucession and for a minute I thought the same kid was coming back every 5 minutes for more candy.

I confess that as a kid I would switch costumes and make a second round of the neighborhood so even if it was the same kid I didn't really mind....

Posted by: Duane on November 1, 2007 11:33 AM

Also, the reason Capitol Hill gets so many kids may be explained by this. Your friends suckered you right into the lion's den.

Posted by: Duane on November 1, 2007 11:40 AM

We had throngs, battalions, multitudes, and hordes -- at least 400 kids, at two piece of candy each. I had friends over too -- two to help with provisions and one to make us drinks.

Only one Dorothy, but tons of Spidermans and princesses and pirates. A surprising number of female Jack Sparrows.

Posted by: meg on November 1, 2007 11:54 AM

Having just arrived in the UK, I was completely surprised at how popular Halloween is here, and how many sugar addled kids came a knocking at our front door.

One kid arrived in his school uniform with a paper plate tied around his head. He'd managed to invest enough time in the costume to poke through some eyeholes through the plate so that he could at least discern a house from a postbox.

"That's just a paper plate," I observed. "with some eyeholes poked through. You can't exactly call that a costume, and it's definitely not scary."

"You 'avin a laff? Jus' give us the twix, man."

Ok, now he was scary. Twix him I did.

Posted by: Davey on November 1, 2007 12:10 PM

I only saw a little bit of the coverage of last night's Village Halloween Parade, but my favorite costume was a woman who had an oven-shaped box on her head and had gone as Sylvia Plath.

But mostly I'm thinking about the necessity of buying 100 POUNDS of candy, and feeling a little queasy.

Posted by: Karen on November 1, 2007 12:42 PM

I concur on the peanut butter jelly time call on the Nanner costumes.

My favorite costume was some kid walking around with a prisoner's stripes costume complete with a set of bars he could hold on to...

Posted by: John on November 1, 2007 1:03 PM

@Karen - Last year I was to a Halloween party where a girl dressed as Sylvia Plath and had her boyfriend come as the oven. It was a cooperative effort.

This year I was the tooth fairy and nearly no one "got it" at first glance. I had a business meeting at 8:30 am and I was the only person in the board room in costume. The boss said "you're a princess? oh a fairy?" Then I pointed at the giant tooth on my chest and he said "A fairy of teeth?" Come on, people! I even had a little jar of "teeth" (tic tacs) tied around my neck!

Posted by: zeekster on November 1, 2007 1:25 PM

All you people do is encourage a stupid and inane annual ritual. It's utter pointless and at the very least bad for the childrens' health. It might be a bit of fun to you, to see the little ones dressed up in costumes, but you don't have to wonder why the USA is so fat.

Shame on all of you who participate with sugar. Maybe next time try chopped raw vegetables.

Posted by: David on November 1, 2007 1:35 PM

So where was the Squiggle during all of this? Did he go trick-or-treating?

Posted by: Elizabeth on November 1, 2007 3:29 PM

[KIDS]
   |
   |
   `------------.
                      \
[DAVID'S]    |
[ HOUSE ]   |
                     /
   ,-----------'
   |
   V

Posted by: Davey on November 1, 2007 4:27 PM

Those superhero costumes you linked are really bothering me. Not because of the trademark infringement, but you just can't have Marvel and DC characters hanging out together like that. It's wrong.

Posted by: cirocco on November 1, 2007 5:04 PM

"A homemade costume is, by default, 30 x more awesome than any store-bought costume. Fact! I would refer doubters to this photo."

And to this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m500/301631872/

Posted by: Elise on November 1, 2007 5:07 PM

I made one mom's night - I was the first person to recognize that she was Princess Buttercup from the Princess Bride, and not just a mom in a random princess costume shlepping her kids around the neighborhood schnooring for candy.

The best costume I ever made was one year I went as Dorothy Vader. Ruby shoes, the dress, pigtails and picnic basket; accurately rendered chestplate, dv mask and lightsaber.

Oh- and one year my wife and I went as Devo and Tivo (a lifesize felt replica of the iconic remote)

Posted by: Eric on November 1, 2007 6:12 PM

i've been reading your blog for a number of years and taking all of your lovely book suggestions to heart and reading them.
most of all, i just wanted to say, thanks for introducing me to flight of the conchords all those years ago with the best version of business time to ever bless my ears.

sorry, i'm not sure if it's too late and unrelated...

happy belated birthday to vanilla ice.

Posted by: dezh. on November 1, 2007 6:49 PM

That Thing costume had me choking with laughter! Too right.

Posted by: Dawn on November 1, 2007 6:55 PM

Kidmanity - love it.

I live in an apartment so I get no kids. But the last time I lived in a house, I bought gallons of candy and only got one visit. I was sad.

Posted by: Jen on November 1, 2007 7:48 PM

I live in New Zealand and the Halloween virus is spreading rapidly down here. The first bunch of little cretins actually tried the door (which happened to be unlocked) so after chasing them away I locked it firmly and removed the batteries from the doorbell. Peace and quiet (and muffled thumping) reigned. Maybe it's a fad and they'll give it up...

Posted by: Julian on November 1, 2007 11:59 PM

Oh my, Thing in the flickr set is awesome.

Posted by: stx on November 2, 2007 8:15 AM

I'm so impressed that there are KIDS that think FOTC is worthy of impersonating! That's fabulous!

Posted by: Reese on November 2, 2007 8:37 AM

the bananas are indeed back. they were in nyc, they were in oregon. they were everywhere.

Posted by: raaka on November 2, 2007 9:10 AM

best costume i saw was an adult dressed as Beeker. it was great and she was thrilled as i was the only one who recognized who she was...does that make me really old?!

Posted by: cara on November 2, 2007 10:58 AM

Flight of the Conchords has reached teenagers! There is yet hope for this planet. Honestly, best. show. ever. I wish I had thought of going as Bret.

Posted by: Xoebe on November 2, 2007 11:12 AM

Maybe Target or Walmart was selling banana costumes this year, so the banana abundance can be explained by impulse buying?

Posted by: Kim on November 2, 2007 12:49 PM

It could be "I'm a banana" from "Rejected."
Were they accompanied by someone with a giant spoon?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rejected

Posted by: Halcyon on November 2, 2007 1:22 PM

http://www.geostationarybananaovertexas.com/

Posted by: Johzephine on November 2, 2007 10:24 PM

OMG!FOTC is the best costume of the year, bar none! One of them should have been wearing some black business socks.

We live in the country, so word must have gotten out that we were giving out ten different fun size candy bars, at least one of each to every kid because we had 12! 12 unrelated, non-nephew, non-niece, non-friend's kids, trick or treaters! Wooohooo! I have so much candy left over it's not even funny, like 20lbs at least, stocking stuffers.. we also had a brother and sister come as Bill and Hillary, which was both cute and disturbing...

Posted by: The Big Willey on November 5, 2007 11:43 AM