I walked into the best Halloween party of my life just as
Talking Heads started burning down the house.
The first thing I saw was that famous roach, Gregor Samsa,
dancing with the pallid Ophelia. Somebody else was dolled
up like Edith Wharton. Somebody else was John the Baptist,
a blood-spattered cardboard platter cut to fit around his
neck. There were a couple of the witches from MacBeth. And
Lolita, prepubescent of course.
I was dressed as Madeline. A classmate in a nunís habit could
have passed as Miss Clavell.
Thereís nothing like the schizophrenic blend of English graduate
studentsó buttoned-up teaching assistants, lit. crit. snobs
and bloodthirsty budding writersóat a Halloween party.
That might not sound like fun to you, but since, these days,
the only Halloween parties Iíve gone to have been for kids.
Little girls dressed up like Ariel and Belle and Britney Spears.
Boys dressed up like Chucky and Jason or Keanu Reeves. Itís
not my idea of the high life.
Halloween is pretty much a bust if youíre an adult. You get
up and down to answer the doorbell 50 times between 6 and
9, handing out candy to kids you know donít brush their teeth
properly. And then you go to bed praying your car wonít get
egged. What kind of fun is that?
I think itís time to reappropriate trick or treat. Trick or
treat for grownups.
Remember Amelie from the movie Amelie? I know that
sheís a bit of a goody-two-shoesóshe goes around spreading
all kinds of sweetness and good cheer where itís deservedóbut
sheís also got a shadow side. For all the random and sundry
bad guys who people her world, she creates clever little punishments.
Anonymous ones, of course.
Iím thinking thatís what Iíd like to do.
Put a whole new spin on trick or treat.
I bet Iím not alone in knowing people whose cars Iíd like
to egg or whose mailboxes Iíd like to fill with shaving cream.
Not that Iíd do it, of course. Fine upstanding citizen that
I am, it would never do to have the local Lutheran pastor
in town court pleading guilty to smashing pumpkins.
But it sure canít hurt to figure out just who Iíd give my
treats to and who would end up with tricks.
For the most part, treats are easier. I can think of a half-dozen
people right off the top of my head who deserve something
For my mortgage broker and my financial planner who, between
the two of them, have answered more stupid questions from
me than from most of their clients combined, a carton of Pay
Day bars. Or lots of those mesh bags of foil-wrapped coins.
My hairdresser, who dispenses advice about life while dispensing
volumizing products into my hair (to give my hair what she
calls ďboo-vee-voo-vayĒ), already keeps stashes of candy around
the salon. She should have a boa. Iím sure she already has
a oneóor maybe several. But you can never have too many boas.
And my dentist. Well, my dentist defies categorization. I
usually just tell people heís nuts. But thatís shorthand for
all of the many things he isódriven, compassionate, funny,
blunt, outrageous. Heís too good for candy. Plus, thereís
the tooth-decay thing. So maybe a copy of Frank Zappa singing,
ďMoving to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon.Ē
But thereís nothing interesting in hearing about treats, right?
Itís the tricks that are more fascinating.
So I would happily deposit a bunch of Sour Patch Kids on the
doorstep of a Volvo dealer who sold a car out from under me.
For the plumber who installed a disposal named ďBonecrusherĒ
in my sink, then proceeded to tell me I needed a new $900
pipe to go along with it, Iíd send a carton of Lemonheads.
For the wandering raker who promised to rake my lawn, then
proceeded to bilk me and a bunch of my neighbors for cash,
Iíd send bubble gum. Chewed already. Stuck to the soles of
his shoes to slow him down a bit.
You know, Iím not fundamentally a vengeful person, but I think
I could get into this. Unwrapped York Peppermint Patties left
on the seats of coworkers you didnít like. Packages of Sugar
Babies sent anonymously to deadbeat dads. Curses spelled out
in candy corn. Gummy worms coated in vegetable oil and slipped
into the pockets of people you were mad at.
And there is probably a whole language of candy out there
to be applied to elected officials, both sweet and sour.
This could be a whole new Halloween tradition.
For now, though, Iíll keep on handing out treats to those
who treat me well: Godiva chocolates for the woman who drives
my daughter to her job each time Iím too busy; Bob the Builder
suckers for my car-shopping coach; Butterfingers for my massage
therapist; Swedish fish for the Norwegian who installed my
stove; chocolate Ice Cubes for the ones behind the counter
at Starbucks who remember my face and my order, Jelly Bellys
for anybody with a belly laugh.
I know, itís all kind of tame. Tomorrow is Halloween and all
I can think of is cute tricks and treacle-y treats. Maybe
Iím losing my edge. Maybe itís time I put on a nightgown and
a circlet of flowers, powder my face rice-paper white and
run off in search of the madly dancing Gregor Samsa.
can contact Jo Page at email@example.com.