There are terms and phrases that exist in everyday language that if anyone stopped and considered the meaning, they may realize that many people would be offended. I read a good article on how we shape children’s perceptions with phrases like, “You are acting like a girl.” Of course the implied thought is that someone shouldn’t act like a girl and girls are weak/whiney/bad throwers of things. This teaches boys and girls bad things about being a girl.
The names of games can be awful. I remember playing a game at campouts which was like hide-and-seek but instead of tagging someone you could shine a flashlight and call out their name. Flashlight tag right? For years, I thought the game was called German Spotlight and I didn’t even figure out why until I was in college. One day I was thinking about hide-and-seek and the name just hit me. I thought, “Good Lord, why would we name a fun game something related to the Holocaust?”
Nursery rhymes are even worse. Ever play Ring-Around-The-Roses? It is about the Bubonic Plague. Ring around the Roses describes marks on your skin, posies were thought to keep illness away, and “Ashes, Ashes” described burning the dead to prevent spread of the disease. Classy. Ever hear “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, The Old Man is Snoring…”? That one describes a concussion and a man dying in his sleep. What about, “There once was a man from Nantucket…”. Okay that one isn’t actually a hidden meaning it is just a dirty poem. Never mind. You get my point.
People have a natural disposition to being horrible and morbid.
The term Trick-or-Treat isn’t that grim or socially inappropriate but at the root is something close to a Federal offense. Basically, the offer is made that if you give us a treat we won’t play a trick on you.
The people wanting “Treats” are dressed in clothing that hides their identity.
The “Tricks” are usually destruction of property.
Isn’t this also the premise of a mugging or a bank robbery? How would Trick-or-Treat be viewed in the courtroom?
Queue the Courtroom Drama:
[The defendant is on the witness stand and the prosecutor is approaching to begin his questioning. He flashes a smile at the jury and turns to the defendant.]
Prosecutor: Where were you on the night of October 31, 2014?
Defendant: Me and my boys was walking around the neighborhood getting’ some fresh air.
Prosecutor: I see and was this neighborhood the same neighborhood as the victim?
Defense Attorney: Objection! Leading the witness.
Prosecutor: Withdrawn. I’ll rephrase your honor.
Prosecutor: What neighborhood were you walking in that night?
Defendant: Maplewood Heights.
Prosecutor: (To the Jury) Ladies and Gentleman please note the defendant was in the same neighborhood as the victim on October 31, 2014. No further questions.
[Whispers breakout in the courtroom. The defense attorney stands as the prosecutor takes his seat. They exchange glares as they pass.]
Defense Attorney: Mr. Defendant. You say that you were in Maplewood that night. In fact, you never deny meeting Mrs. Victim that very same night. Isn’t that right?
Defendant: Yeah that’s right. I met the lady.
Defense Attorney: Would you like to tell the jury how you met?
Defendant: It was Halloween night and we was needin’ some candy. Everybody on the whole block was handin’ out candy ‘cept that old bird. She didn’t even turn on the porch light.
Defense Attorney: My goodness, no candy on Halloween and poor lighting? That could be a safety hazard. What happened next?
Defendant: I knocked on the door. Thought maybe she forgot or somethin’. I even said “Trick-or-Treat” real loud like you’re supposed to.
Defense Attorney: And what did Mrs. Nocandy do?
Defendant: She looks out the window from behind a curtain and then pulls it shut! She saw us there wanting candy and didn’t do anything! I spent hours on that ghost costume!
Defense Attorney: Of all the cold hearted killjoys! Please tell the jury how that made you feel.
Defendant: That made me feel real angry! I told that bat, “Trick Or Treat”. She made her choice so me and tha’ boys egged her house, smashed in the mailbox, and lit her cat on fire! She knew the deal! How am I to blame?!?
Defense Attorney: (To the Jury) Clearly this was a justified application of the Universal Trick-or-Treat Standards, Section 407, Subsection III. My client was faced with a personal attack and responded with reasonable self-defense.
[Attorney turns and faces the judge]
Defense Attorney: No further questions your honor.
[Scene fades out.]
I think it sounds like a legitimate defense. The sad part is that most of the Halloween pranks I took part in were not related to whether or not someone gave out candy. Now that I think about it, most of it wasn’t on Halloween night either.
This is the area where my somewhat coherent post above becomes a pinball machine of thoughts. Read on if you are curious. I don’t know the legality of spurious internet advice written at midnight either so… yeah…
Some vandalism information:
(1)Did you know that if you put eggs in the freezer for 32 minutes they will make a satisfying “Pop” sound when they hit a house? Too bad that activity is probably over $500 in damages so it is a felony.
(2) Also, if you place small children on a roof it is much easier to make sure the toilet paper remains unbroken and you can actually roll an entire house much faster. I know this has been done and it was a pretty complete job. I don’t know any details beyond that.
Don’t get all worked up over that last tidbit. I didn’t put my children on a roof to help roll a house. Why would I? They throw like girls.
(3)Smashing mailboxes is a federal offence so never participate in such tomfoolery. I could speculate that if you waited for a really cold night and hit a big green plastic mailbox it could possibly explode into a thousand pieces. After all, that is just good science.
(4)Smashing pumpkins is a fun sport and a good band. Billy is a weird dude. Careful when really smashing actual pumpkins, you can ruin a good pair of tennis shoes. Make sure the candle is out too, arson is another biggie.
(5) Despite what you may have heard, vandalism is illegal. If you are seventeen or younger you will want to weigh your options. Is your permanent record worth an epic toilet paper throw down? Maybe. I don’t claim to know your life. That may be all you having going for you. If you are 18 and up, move like a ninja assassin because you are probably going to jail when you get caught.
(6) Run from authority figures unless you see a small red dot and hear, “Stop or I’ll shoot”. Cops are a little edgy these days, thanks a lot Ferguson, Missouri. I wouldn’t Trick-or-Treat in that town for all the Reese’s I could eat. They should seriously cancel the holiday around there. Some idiot will dress as a cop and get shot. November first that will be a story.
(7) Deny, deny, deny. Unless they arrested you while trying to physically light the bag of poop on fire your responses should be, “I wasn’t there and I don’t even know what you are talking about.” Plus flaming poop is also attempted arson and we covered that risk in #4.
I have been on the other side of the Trick or Treat exchange as well. One night I get a call from a friend, “Get over here and help me scare the bejesus out of some kids.” He had been grounded by his parents and was required to stay home and hand out candy.
I had no better plans so I said, “Of course, I’ll be right there.”
He fills me in and the plan is brilliant. Halloween night and the only decoration on his well-lit porch would be a bale of hay with a stuffed scarecrow slumped against the wall. Inside said scarecrow would be myself or my friend (working in shifts) waiting patiently beside the door. At the exact moment that candy is being delivered into the buckets, we jump and scream. The pure terror on the little faces was awesome. Most ran away immediately, screaming back towards the street leaving a trail of urine and candy behind them. One poor child was so panicked that he turned a complete 180 degrees and darted straight into a fluted aluminum column at the edge of the porch. He staggered sideways, fell into the grass, and limped across the yard holding his hand to his forehead while crying. Things might have gotten a little too intense so we hid in the house and turned out the lights. Crying kids are like crying baby bears, there is probably a large mommy bear nearby. It was a short game but it was still a memorable night and yes we kept all dropped candy. That’s the rules.
That is why I love Halloween more than other holidays. It is about taking what you want through coercion and bullying. Reckless destruction. Littering. Candy. And panicking people to the point of a Fight-or-Flight response. This holiday gets down to our base instincts and teaches us who we really are.
Thank you Halloween.
Underdaddy to the rescue.