Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Candy From Strangers

I got home from work around 5:30 and it was nice out so Duncan and I went for our evening walk. We like to go to the college campus near our house because there's plenty of room to run off leash there and because Duncan is something of a celebrity among the college students.

Usually the place is pretty quiet during our evening walks. But for some reason it was Grand Central Station tonight.

I don't know what was going on at that place. Everyone in the greater Salt Lake area was there. People were taking family photos next to red brick buildings. Hipsters were slacklining between sips of overpriced lattes. All of your grandmas were doing yoga in the quad.


This was a little annoying because there weren't really any places for Duncan and me to play "throw the ball" which is different than fetch and I don't know how but Duncan insists that it is.

We finally settled on a little grassy area. And that's when we were approached by the four strangest children I've ever met.

They must have been about eight years old. Or twelve. Or six. I don't really know. The thing about not having children is that it's really difficult to have a reference point for kids' ages. They might have been 22. Maybe they were college students.

The point is, they were odd.

All boys. All more talkative to an adult man than I have ever been in my entire life. All very interested in Duncan.

They approached because they wanted to see Duncan more closely, an impulse I understand entirely.

So I invited them to come pet him. They did. And then they proceeded to talk my ear off for the next 12 minutes.

One of them repeatedly assured me that they weren't brothers, but they were friends. Another of them bragged that their moms told them they could go out on their own and walk around the neighborhood. Another insisted that I tell him my exact address, including zip code, and additionally wanted to know if I could remember the addresses, including zip codes, of all of the other places I've ever lived in my life.

Eli: Yeah, I live at 743 Mind Your Own Damn Business Lane!

Ok, I didn't say that. I did tell them what street I live on, prompting the oddest of the bunch to inform me that he lives on that same street. He described his house, one that I thought I knew.

Eli: I think I've met your parents.

Boy: Oh. That's nice. They don't like any of our neighbors.

Eli: I'm going to ignore that. So, are you guys going trick-or-treating this year?

I was nervous about the question, considering that I didn't know whether these boys were 4 or 37.

Boy: Yeah. We're all going together.

My enthusiasm and hopes for turning my street into one of those Halloween neighborhoods from movies in the 90s should not be underestimated. I was so excited when I bought my house three years ago to finally live in an actual neighborhood where I could decorate my place, play spooky sounds, and rival the well-adjusted families on "best candy" for the trick-or-treaters.

I was devastated that first Halloween to discover that I was the only house on the entire block that had its lights on.

Last Halloween I waited in eager anticipation with a giant tub of candy, somehow optimistic that everything would be different in 2016, only to divvy out the lot to the four or five kids I had show up at the end of the night.

And so, hearing that children on my street, who were either 45 or fetuses, planned to trick-or-treat, I made my pitch.


My over-eagerness triggered a relatively-abrupt goodbye.

It was twenty minutes later when my mind suddenly started playing the hypothetical conversation that little boy probably had with his mother this evening.

Boy: Mom, we met a strange man who swears he knows you and he lives down the street and he wanted us to come over and pet his dog and he invited us to his house because he has really good candy so can we go?

Thank God I sold the white van.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. 15 years of living in LA and not a single trick or treaters. Moved to Seattle and we live on Halloween street. We get 1,000 trick or treaters every year and it's exhausting. I want to move back to LA. Or to a gated community with no children. I'll drive my kids to a nice neighborhood and drop them off. This year please some to my house and pass out candy...we don't shut the door for three hours!

  2. Ages can be really hard to determine.

    I love your hypothetical situation.

    I always dreamed of living on a street like in the Sandlot. Do you remember that movie? How for the Fourth of July, all the neighbors shut their street down, brought tables out in the street, and had a huge pot luck to watch the city fireworks? That would be livin' the dream. Thanks a lot '90s movies for setting me up for disappointment in life!

    My kids always want to pet all the dogs we see in public. They've learned to always ask first though. There are a surprising number of dogs who are afraid of children. Even children who walk slowly toward them with their hand outstretched to be smelt before gently petting. And this isn't a critique of dogs—I just previously before being a parent hadn't realized how many dogs found kids scary. Maybe it's just lack of exposure when a puppy?

    Are any of the dogs in your squad afraid of children?

    1. None of them particularly love children. When Mr. Pants was younger he would growl at my nieces and nephews, but now he's pretty apathetic (about everything that isn't peanut butter). Duncan is a little skittish with all strangers but he did let the kids yesterday pet him, which surprised me.

    2. My dog is suuuuper patient with my own child, but not very fond of strange kids. She’s a herding breed and their unpredictable movements bug her. If they run past her too fast she’ll jump and nip like she’s trying to herd them. So we have to make sure kids don’t run up to her, even though my own toddler might be petting her. I think she’s just given up caring what he does.

    3. My last name is Small. My son was called Smalls for years. Then Smallypants. I think he coined that one. He is 30 and is still called Smallypants.

      On the Halloween front, all the Elementary Schools hosts *carnvals* so we don't really get any kids. We also turn of the lights to the house because we have a VERY barky dog.

  3. HAHAHAHAHA I don't know who should be the most scared in this situation: the boys since they pretty much welcomed the stereotypical stranger danger scene, their mothers for not having been with their sons during this conversation, or Eli for the giving his address to four potential trouble making kids.

  4. You'd love my street. We don't get a crazy amount - maybe 30, but it's busy and everyone participates and decorates. Its fun!

    My dog is generally a little butthead so we have to lock her in her kennel on Halloween. She's good with SMALL kids but hates my 6 year old, which seems a bit backwards.

    I wouldn't worry too much. If the parents come knocking at your door, blame the one who asked for your address...or lie "KIDS THESE DAYS! WELL, I NEVER!!!!!"

  5. They sound 10-12. Mischief making age. If they TP your yard/trees, you can easily remove it. While keeping a hose close by, set a match/flame to the TP. They burn right up crazy fast. Usually nothing else burns, but have the house ready just in case. :-)

  6. When we moved into our first safe neighborhood (i.e., one that hookers didn't fight over johns in the middle of the street at 3 am) I was so excited about handing out Halloween candy and I was duly rewarded with a plethora is tiny beings in cute costumes begging at my door. My next neighborhood was small (one street with 19 houses) and there were trick or treaters but not many. By then the thrill had worn off so it was okay.

    The neighborhood we will in now is insane on Halloween. People drop their kids off by bus-loads just to trick or treat in my neighborhood. Last year I went through 12 bags of candy. TWELVE! BIG BAGS! SAM'S CLUB SIZE BAGS! And there was probably a good half hour of trick or treaters left!

  7. Wow! That’s an expensive amount of candy!!

    Our last house was I a neighborhood like that. I would actually give my kids’ candy away, because by Halloween, they’d already trick-or-treated at church and my husband’s work, so I would pass that candy out. I also usually buy individual-sized snack bags of chips and crackers to pass out, too.

  8. Haaa. I have kids and I still cannot tell ages most of the time. I love it when trick or treaters come, but we rarely get any :(

  9. In St. Louis, the adults who aren't accompanying their own trick or treaters set up in the front yard with a fire pit and camp chairs around it to hand out candy. And the kids have to tell a joke to get candy. I had never heard of such a tradition until I moved here, but now I go every year to my friends' house because their neighborhood is full of kids trick or treating and we sit in front of the house, around the fire, with our glasses of wine and make kids tell us jokes to get candy. It's awesome.

    1. I live in St. Louis, too. Or more accurately way west in O'Fallon. I have a four year old so we are generally out and back before the rest of the children start. And then I have to stand by the door for two-ish hours waiting for the doorbell because sitting down only to get up five seconds later is tedious. But this is boring so I when I see an older child approaching the door (think 12 or older, you would be surprised how many teenagers trick or treat my neighborhood) I wait until they are JUST about to knock or ring the doorbell and then I swing the door open and yell "BOO!" I'm not scarily dressed or anything...but it does startle them and then they usually laugh for about 30 seconds after they recover. They also never warn the other children approaching the house, so I imagine they think it's a good "trick".

  10. We recently got a white 15 passenger van for our large family. My husband was a real downer and wouldn't let me put WNTCaNDY? As my vanity plate

  11. People are just so touchy about it when you offer their kids candy and puppies. I mean, it's like, "Lighten up, people! Eli is PROBABLY NOT going to harm your children!" Just like they PROBABLY WON'T burn the house down if you give them matches.