I'd even smell their feet. Really, I would.
What we want: Trick-or-treaters. Bring 'em on! Cute little kids in bunny outfits and witch's hats and painted cardboard boxes. Big kids dressed up like vampires or Britney Spears (do they still listen to Britney? I'm a few years behind). It doesn't matter what they wear, just as long as they are there.
What we start with: Candy. Lots of candy. A whole big bowl of candy, plus a bunch of Pixie Stix I bought on a whim, trying to be original amid the sea of Hershey's miniatures out there.
What we fear: Running out of candy and having to give out year-old Chanukah gelt, or little bags of cashews. Or else raid Mermaid Girl's candy stash, and you can just imagine what the consequences of that would be.
What we get:
Mermaid Girl and her three pals: one fairy, one Snow White, one Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz, and one "Sleeping Beauty fairy" with wings and tiara (guess which one was ours?), topping off their matching plastic pumpkins after an afternoon hitting up the local merchants at the neighborhood downtown trick-or-treat event.
Our next-door neighbors and their 6-month-old baby, who is dressed as a pumpkin and has the cheeks of one, too. Mermaid Girl and RW are trick-or-treating around the corner and miss this big event. I give the parents candy and tell them to enjoy the last year they'll be able to eat it themselves.
Three teenagers, dressed as a princess, soldier, and scary monster (with scary mask), respectively. Mermaid Girl is home by then; she opens the door and prepares to hand out candy, but is paralyzed by the scary mask. I urge the teenagers to take some themselves out of the bowl Mermaid Girl is rigidly holding in front of her. They exclaim over the Pixie Sticks, tell Mermaid Girl she's cute, and leave.
The 9-year-old from down the street (vampire) and a friend of hers (something in big Afro wig, not sure who or what). Mermaid Girl holds out the bowl again, speechless, probably terrified by bloody vampire makeup. Vampire and Afro Kid daintily pick one piece each, despite our urgings to take more.
Mermaid Girl is finished with her dinner of Halloween candy (a family tradition from my childhood; my mom swears that our dentist recommended it as a way to finish off the candy faster) and is deep in bedtime-stalling mode. RW is comatose from a weekend spent getting out the vote, and also from all the chocolate she's sampled.
I go out to the porch to admire our lighted Jack-o-lanterns in the dark, and hear voices! Festive, cheerful, young voices! I run inside and sound the joyous alarm. "Trick-or-treaters!" I cry. "They're coming! I heard them!" We man our posts and wait. I peek out the window, just in time to see them walk right past our house and down the street.
Without even thinking, I'm out the door and on the porch again. "Hey!" I yell down the street. "What's wrong with our house? We've got candy! Good candy! Hey, come back!"
There's no reply.
What we have now: A bowl three-fourths full of candy. A table littered with candy wrappers. About seventeen thousand Pixie Stix. And the unsettling, curmudgeonly sense that Halloween just isn't what it used to be.
Or maybe we should just move to Jo's neighborhood. Yikes!