Armchair Trick-or-Treater

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I have a plan for Halloween.  I know the houses to hit.  I know the candy to reach for.  I know the optimal time to trick-or-treat.  I have a complete Halloween strategy.  Alas, as much as I would love to go, I’m a little too old.  I’ve had to become an armchair trick-or-treater.

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This is how it's done if you want to succeed as a trick-or-treater.
This is How It’s Done.

The Start-up Meeting

It’s tough watching my daughter head out there without a plan of attack, without a strategy for obtaining the most candy possible.  I’ve done all I could to emphasize this to her over her six years on earth, but I don’t seem to be making headway.

This year was going to be different.  I scheduled a Halloween start-up meeting at 1800 hours a month prior to the launch date.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to set some ground rules and best practices, discuss our tasks and milestones, and responsibilities.

I was disappointed when she blew off the meeting to play with her “Hello Kitty” airplane, but I persevered.  This was too important to leave to chance.  There were too many variables in play, and the stakes were too high.  We had a large plastic pumpkin to fill with candy, and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity for success pass.

Futility

She was sitting on the floor playing with Shopkins when I cornered her.  “What’s your strategy for Halloween this year?”

She didn’t even look up.  “I don’t know.”

Her response caught me off-guard.  No strategy?  I decided to dig down into specifics.  “How are you going to maximize the amount of candy in your pumpkin this year?”

Reasonable question.  She totes her annual haul around in an orange jack-o’-lantern, so surely she had given this some thought.  I could tick off the volume of my old Halloween trick-or-treat sacks for all of the 1970s.

“I don’t know.”

How could that be?  Her lack of foresight was beginning to annoy me.  I could feel the prickly rush of heat to my skin.  “Have you mapped out your route?  Looked at traffic density patterns?”

“Mmmm, I don’t know.”

I squeezed my lips tight and inhaled through flared nostrils.  “Have you surveyed the candy aisle at the supermarket?”  My voice had a tint of panic.  “Calculated the ratio of wrapper to candy volume?”

She kept her focus on her shrunken world of inanimate grocery products, many of whom had stabbed my bare feet over the last week.  “No,” she said.

She wasn’t paying attention to me.  I wanted to melt the Shopkins down into sneakers.  I implored her with open arms.  “At least, get a weather report!”

She looked up.  “What’s that?”

“What’s that?”  Astounding!  I grabbed tufts of my own hair.  “How do you plan on taking over the Halloween chocolate market!?!”

She picked up Ice Cream Sundae, a miniscule version of the same, and placed it in the ice cream truck.  “You’re so silly, Daddy.”

On the Route

I thought it would improve when we were out making our rounds, but I had misjudged.  Try to convince a six-year-old that she ought to carry a pedometer while walking door to door.  “It will help with future mobility assessments and topographic neighborhood candy disbursement maps,” I told her.

“What?”  My daughter’s bemused expression forced me to re-evaluate my priorities.

“Okay,” I said, “Never mind.  I’ll update the three-dimensional replica of Louisville by myself.”

“Can I color it?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said, but only if you refine the address checklist with size and quantity of candy.”

“Okay.”

I had a feeling she didn’t mean it.  It was always okay with her – until you found the entire Halloween Project document repository being used as Barbie’s indoor beach.  And when you notice that your candy distribution pie chart happens to lie under Barbie’s toilet – let’s just say, it’s hard to take her commitment to Halloween analytics seriously.

I Give Up

I tried to manage the remainder of the event as best I could, but I restricted myself to providing tips in the moment, much like an overzealous father whispering in his son’s ears before a Little League at bat.

“You see that house over there?  No lights on.  Avoid them.”

“They left the bowl out.  Double-dip there.”

“Leave the lollipops.  Go for the chocolate.”

But my pleas became increasingly desperate:

“How often do I have to tell you?  Stay away from the filler candy!”

“But, Daddy, I like Nerds.”

“Nerds?  Nerds!  We don’t need no stinking Nerds.”

“Daddy, can you go home?”

Six-year-olds: they think they know everything.  “And who’s going to update the candy database?”  Stumped, she shuffled up the walkway to the front door.

Eventually, I had to leave, but not because of her request.  I couldn’t take her constant rejection of my advice and candy gathering wisdom.  Despite her mistakes, however, she was on her way to a record candy intake, so some of my advice must have gotten through.

Going Over My Little Trick-or-Treater's Successes and Failures
Going Over the Night’s Successes and Failures

The Replay

As we watched the recording of the night’s events, I tried to point out to my daughter all the areas of improvement.

“You have to actually say ‘Trick or Treat’.”

“This house had their lights on, and you passed them by.”

“This is where you could have cut across the lawn.”

I replayed certain key segments over and over, trying to get her to raise the level of her game, but she just sat there eating her Twizzlers and not paying me any mind.  I’d update the comments section of my database, but for now this season was over.

Armchair Trick-or-Treater Wrap-Up

Someday, I intend to write a treatise on trick-or-treating, one that I’m sure will be a top-seller.  I have so much I want to share with the world I feel like I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t.

In the meantime, I’m letting everyone know that I’m available for private consultations.  If you’re looking to ramp up your trick-or-treat game, let me know.

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