This Halloween, for the first time in about a decade, I handed out candy to trick-or-treaters. I was oddly nervous about it because in my imagination I visualized trick-or-treaters as aggro adolescents who might deface my car if they didn't care for the little candy bars we offered. To my relief trick-or-treaters turn out to be tiny children with sweet and/or shy dispositions, the timidest monsters I've ever seen.
I was aghast, though, to see most of the kids were being driven around our safe, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in big suburban utility vehicles instead of walking. It was different for me and mine. We would go outside, in the dark and the Autumnal chill, tripping on our costumes, struggling to see through our masks, exploring our neighborhood on foot, knocking on doors we didn't know. It was a cozy adventure, almost an initiation ceremony; our parents were close behind, but still, the moonlight filtered down through the branches and made everything look like a less trustworthy version of our daytime world. Experiencing it on foot, fully outdoors, haunting or being haunted by the enormity of the starlit sky, made Halloween just a wee bit eldritch. Experiencing it from the back of a boring everyday vehicle just doesn't cut it; that's how kids experience everyday banality. It's neither a trick nor a treat; it's just average.
I fussed about this on Fecesbook (and let's face it, everybody who reads this blog is facebooked to me so you all saw it) and an old high school friend stood up for the automotive trick-or-treating process on the grounds that parents are tired. Well, I'm pretty sure my parents didn't have it any easier, but they still had the decency to lead us on our disguised walkabout. I was surprised this old friend took such a bourgeois stance, since in our younger days she'd been a devoted Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft fan. You'd think she'd retain some love for the real Halloween spooky spirit.