My apartment sits on the corner with Seventh Avenue, one of the main drags in Park Slope, and the location of last evening's Halloween Parade. I had discovered there would be a parade when trying to track down trick-or-treat times online. It proved an irrelevant exercise as I climbed out of the subway on Flatbush and 7th, armed with six bags of candy to find that things had already started.
I had dropped into an ant-colony of costumed kiddies, strollers with oblivious parents and aimless five year olds, completely unable to walk in a straight line or cross the street without wandering off if their hands were released. It's a sickness, that five-year-old longing to wander off...
My roommate was scheduled to arrive home at 7 to join me in candy distribution, and I was ready and waiting with a silver mixing bowl of mini snickers, mini skittles and mini m&ms. My other roommate, however, arrived home unexpectedly early, and in spite of her desire to avoid children after spending Halloween teaching elementary schoolers music, she joined me on the stoop, where I learned the cardinal rule of trick-or-treating: Under no circumstances should you let the children put their hands in the candy bowl.
I discovered this the hard way.
Upon seeing us sit on the stoop wtih our shiny bowl of candy, children swarmed. Black, white, Chinese. It was the United Nations of Trick-or-Treat. Vampires, cowgirls, several princesses in pink, some with wings. I extended the bowl, and they dug in. "Just one!" I said, and looking right into my eyes, a six-year old boy grabbed a handful and ran away. Another girl kept switching her place in line and taking another. Others would see how wide they could stretch their small fingers as to have maximum candy-grasping ability and dove in.
It was like being between the vultures and the carcas.
Like corporate executives at places like $10.49-billion-earning Exxon Mobile, Trick-or-Treaters will spread their hands wide and take whatever they can. They will sneak pieces of chocolate into their bags and stare at you wide-eyed as they reach for another. Their audacity renders one powerless to stop them. As long as they can take what they want, whether it be a Snickers AND a Butterfinger, or a $285 million bonus for having a record quarter while laying off 5,000 employees to make that happen... The unsupervised candy bowl is universally tempting to those who think they can get away with taking more than one piece.
Having watched the hoarde strike at my candy, I realized I would have to change tactic. Mark arrived with fresh supplies, and we took another stab at candy distribution. This time, when the children came up and opened their bags, either with an enthusiastic "Trick-or-Treat" or a shy half-smile, I reached into the bowl and deposited one piece of candy in each open sack.
The power! The rush of adult self-importance!
Each costume was cuter than the last as I realized that I had finally switched onto the other team in the Reindeer Game that is Trick-or-Treating.
I had had a hand in those bowls of Halloween Past, trying to scam an unwitting grown-up out of an extra Baby Ruth or Nestle's Crunch. I knew the look they gave, scanning our faces to see if we were gullible grown ups or grown ups with rules (but grown ups either way...), and when I saw that sparkle. That devious grin as Batman tried to size me up, every once in a while, I still held out that bowl and let him dig in.