Trick-or-treat rubric wildly unpopular

When I was growing up Halloween was always a time of good-natured pranks and vandalism. I knew my fellow students enjoyed practicing outdoor culinary breakfast marksmanship, meaning throwing eggs at things. I didn’t understand these hijinx but wanted to fit in with the “cool” crowd. However I needed practice before showing up and embarrassing myself. I’m not sure how I’d embarrass myself; maybe I’d accidentally throw the carton.

During my practice session the thought of throwing perfectly good eggs felt wasteful. Instead, I purchased (with a teenage sneer) plastic Easter eggs. Being empty they were extremely light, so I had to get in really close to the target house for them to even have a chance at making contact with anything. Mustering up all my teenage angst, I threw them violently and with devastating accuracy, providing the wind didn’t blow real hard. You should’ve seen them ricochet off surfaces, making devastating plinking sounds. I’m surprised I wasn’t on COPS.

Flash forward to Halloween 2017 and I’m pretty sure the only reason my wife wanted to have a child in the first place was to carry out her covert plot of acquiring neighborhood peanut butter cups. Unfortunately last year when I took our daughter door-to-door I failed to secure enough to meet her approval so this year I have been demoted to door duty. I prefer to look at it as though I’ve been promoted to Candy Distribution Manager and Neighborhood Costume Quality Control Supervisor.

I’m fine with this, but unfortunately my door-greeting costume was banned before making a single appearance.

“You’re not going as Sexy Davey Crockett,” my wife said before adding too late “And I don’t even want to know what that means.”

Too late. By that time I already hopped into the living room shirtless wearing a coonskin hat. Management didn’t approve. I don’t know why I still work here.

Children these days seem to think saying “Trick or Treat” is optional. What they fail to realize is so is me giving them candy. As a result, while their silent candy demands may not get a Butterfinger, what the DO receive is a heaping scoop of the science called cause and effect. For some reason they don’t find knowledge all that delicious.

If you come to my door, understand you will be harshly evaluated and the candy you may or may not receive will be based on the following criteria: A) Originality B) Overall costume design C) Attitude. My rubric is as follows:

Top Tier: Excellence Rewarded

Technique: Door knock, original costume, enthusiastic greeting

Response: Full candy out of the “Good Candy” bucket of your choosing. Beer for parents. Well done.

Middle Tier: You Tried

Technique: Door knock, mediocre costume, unenthusiastic or prompted greeting

Response: Pre-determined candy either out of “Good Candy” or “Bad Candy” bucket based on attitude and/or if I “get” your costume. Overall, you’re not particularly awful but there’s room for improvement.

Bottom Tier: Failure

Technique: Door knock, awful or no costume, unenthusiastic greeting

Response: Cherry lip balm or Luden’s cough drops dropped into bucket with the appropriate amount of disdain.

Get Off My Porch Tier


• No door knock and sort of show up as if someone had said “Beatlejuice” three times but instead of Michael Keaton appearing I get a moody way-too-old teenager

• Hold out sack with the look of the bank robber in charge of collecting all the hostages’ cell phones

• No costume, no greeting or vocal pleasantries of any kind, basically communicating the message, “I’m Jessica and why isn’t there candy in here yet OMG this is taking FOR-EV-ER.”

Response: I calmly find the worst of the worst candy: a piece of loose candy corn, an old playing card, paperclip or possibly the receipt for the candy bucket. Palming so they cannot see, I reach down and place this into their stash, while slyly removing two pieces of superior candy in the process. You’d be amazed at how far kids these days allow you to reach inside their buckets or pillowcases. I call this the “Gypsy Sweet Tooth Switcheroo.”

Candy saving tip! If you’re getting low on candy, simply lift up your shirt and press your chest against the storm door glass. This typically dissuades children from approaching, though you may be visited by adults dressed as police officers.

BONUS candy saving tip! Instead of handing out sugary candy next year, make a giant pot of Ghoul-ash — which is essentially goulash but pronounced with a bad Dracula accent with special emphasis on the “ghoul” so people understand why you’re ladling scoops of lukewarm meat and noodles into their open palms. You can do this for about two years before the neighborhood starts catching on and you develop a reputation.

My favorite Trick-Or-Treater last year had to have been the child dressed as a “Something in a mask” who walked slowly up to my door, said nothing, looked at me with creepy eyes and slowly raised his pillowcase. It was fun because I looked him dead in his masked eyes, handed him a garlic clove and slowly shut the door on his confused face.


Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at or via loving message carved into a tree stump proclaiming how much you “heart” him “4-ever.” Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny or he will follow you for REAL (scary because Halloween!).