Bag of Tricks

Evening falls. You’re settling down to a quiet night in front of the fire, when a couple of masked thugs show up at your door. You open it, and they accost you with demands and threats: give us what we want, or you’ll be sorry. Do you slam the door? Do you call the police? Are we talking about an Orwellian future?

No indeed; you dole out a handful of candy into a smiling pumpkin or orange-patterned sack. Then you send the trick-or-treaters on their merry way to take their threats to the house next door.

But wait a second. Isn’t this Halloween we’re talking about? Shouldn’t this night be all about the scary and the surprising? The ghostly and ghastly? The unexpected? If so, why are we letting them off so easily?

Halloween has gotten soft in its old age. Everything’s “scary fun” this and “spooky treats” that. It’s all too cute, all too tame.

It’s all too boring?frightfully so. This year, I want to bring the magic back. Why not make it a night everyone will remember . . . possibly in their nightmares?

Modern kids are too savvy to be taken in by the usual “spooky” d├ęcor—plastic, cauldron-stirring witches or cackling ghouls that grow in a box on department store shelves. It’s time to bring some real thrills to the mix.

Let the kids ring the doorbell in vain. Then, when they turn away, disappointed, I’ll jump out of the bushes with a ghostly yell, looking my werewolf best. I’ll attempt to offer candy in the direction of the rapidly fleeing screams, but it might be a lost cause. Plus, who takes treats from a werewolf?

Or perhaps, I’ll open the door with a sweet smile. But instead of little boxes of oversugared pellets, I’ll use empty candy boxes for eerie notes advising the recipient, in spidery written-by-a-mummy script, that “We are watching you,” or to “Take care—she will enter your bedroom at the midnight hour.”

And to think the parents will blame the resulting sleeplessness on too much candy.

Maybe I’ll offer the trick-or-treaters the treat basket—and let their candy-grabbing set off a motion-triggered toy spider. Or better yet, I’ll slip a rubber cockroach into the treat bag. Of course, that might cause parental coronaries.

But hey, why not spread the Halloween spirit to the whole family?

Because scares are for adults, too. And what better way to ensure heart palpitations in the grown-up crowd than by dropping authentic-looking tax arrears notices in their mailboxes? Double points if one of my neighbours actually is in arrears.

Of course, the best tricks I’ll reserve for the trick-or-teens who slouch up to the door. You know, the 15-year-olds who are far too cool to actually don a costume, but who are definitely not too cool to con the neighbours for free treats. I have a lovely collection of candy-wrapped toothbrushes waiting just for them.

I’m dreaming of a truly tricky Halloween . . .