The trick-or-treaters seem to have got more demanding and less polite over the years Photo / NZME
You may feel the need to call me a miserable sod after you read this but I have to say I’m over this trick-or-treat thing Kiwi kids seem to have embraced over the past
decade or so.
I mean it’s an American thing isn’t it? Not one of our traditions.
I recall seeing it on telly back in the 70s (think Partridge Family, Brady Bunch etc etc) and that was it. I don’t think we ever gave a thought to giving it a go ourselves and nor did those younger than us who were perhaps a little more susceptible to the temptations of free lollies.
But suddenly our younger residents seem to have picked it up and run with it. And with great gusto too. Well, some of them. For others it has become an absolute scam in my experience.
Let me explain.
I’d say 10 years ago, maybe in a brief, one of those “it’s for the kids” moments, I persuaded Mrs P we should enter into the spirit of things and make sure we had a bowl of lollies available for the wee cherubs of the neighbourhood when they came knocking on Halloween.
It would be a nice thing to do, I said.
In my mind I had visions of a bunch of 5- or 6-year-olds dressed as witches and wizards with big pointy hats, accompanied by one or two sensible parents, politely taking one lolly from the bowl, saying “thank you” and then skipping off to the next victim as happy as an adult who has just won Lotto.
Naturally, with that vision in mind, I found the biggest bowl I could and filled it to the brim with an assortment of wrapped chocolates and various other individual lollies.
It didn’t exactly cost a fortune but it would be fair to say I was reminded of it for the next few years whenever I grumbled about Mrs P’s latest purchase from Briscoes.
You know the one I mean. The thing we didn’t need but that she bought because it was 60 per cent off.
So, there we are on that first Halloween and my bowl is on the front step and sure enough along came various witches, wizards, fairies and zombies. I think we even had an All Black turn up which was kind of weird and nothing to do with scary old Halloween but I had to confess I admired the plucky young chap’s keeness to be involved.
The following year we did the same again. Only this time the lollies didn’t last very long as the witches, wizards, fairies and zombies seemed to be a bit older and took handfuls of lollies rather than the single ones from the previous year.
From memory they also forgot to say “thank you”.
A couple of years later I watched in surprise as a people mover load of what turned out to be about six or seven again older trick-or-treaters, presumably from a different suburb, pulled up outside our house and waited for me to put the bowl of goodies out on the deck.
No sooner had I done so than the horde leapt from the car, raced up the driveway and stripped it clean.
Now, this is where it gets interesting.
I swear as the last zombie put a handful in his bag, he took out a cellphone and sent a message.
Call me cynical but I firmly believe word had got out pickings were good at our place.
He was letting his mates know my bowl was stripped clean and they’d be better off focusing their efforts elsewhere. In my mind I had the cheeky little buggers all meeting back at some secret hideaway where they emptied the goodies out on a table and solemnly divided them up.
Right, I thought, next year will be different.
That time I filled the bowl with apples, mandarins, kiwifruit and bananas. And hardly anything went.
To be fair, some of the littlies did take mandarins but the disappointed looks on their faces was crushing to say the least. It would also be fair to say some of the accompanying parents shot me a glance which suggested I was, in fact, the miserable sod referred to at the start of this piece.
A year later I brought the lollies back, on a smaller scale, but things seemed to have changed again.
No longer was trick or treating just for the little ones. It seemed dozens of high school kids were now wandering around the neighbourhood looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.
To really rub salt in, many of them had not given much thought to their costume and some had not even bothered at all.
And so, because I felt they were maybe a little intimidating to the littlies, I policed the handouts a lot more stringently.
We were nearly at the bottom of the bowl when a kid came up the driveway with his mate. I’d say they were both about 14 or 15. One had a Los Angeles Lakers cap on and from what I could see that was about the extent of his costume.
I asked the other kid about his costume. Who or what had he come as?
He gave me a mumbled teenager-looking-at-his-feet response.
I simply have no idea what he said – to be honest he may have had a very good excuse – but I recall thinking “well, if he’s not going to make much of an effort, then nor will I”.
And with that I plucked a lemon from the bush right next to our deck, dropped it in his bag and bade them farewell.
I watched them walk back down the driveway. When he got to the end he took the lemon out of his bag and threw it aside.
So, this Halloween just gone I thought enough was enough and I did something completely different.
I took the big bowl I’d bought years ago, turned it upside down and put it at the bottom of the drive. On top I placed a sign.
It read: No trick or treaters thank you. PS: Bowl below is free to a good home.