Used to, my wife and I would keep our porch lights on for trick-or-treaters each Halloween night. We gave them homemade popcorn balls. At one time we were famous because of these popcorn confections, which were the size of regulation softballs, covered in sticky, ooey-gooey goodness.
Over the years I have seen children get into bitter arguments over these popcorn balls.
This year, however, we’re only doing pandemic-friendly plastic-wrapped candy. But then, it really wouldn’t matter what I’m handing out because there are no trick-or-treaters in sight.
Even so, I still remember when kids would climb our stoop wearing costumes purchased from department stores, or sewn by their creative mothers. You’d toss popcorn balls into their open pillowcases and they would get so excited.
After which you’d hear the voices of unseen dads in the dark saying, “Say thank you, dang it!”
Then, five or six kids would suddenly remember their manners. “Thank you!”
Oh, we would get all kinds of monsters. We’d get werewolves, vampires, swamp monsters, zombies, the undead, the extreme undead, ski-mask
killers, Texas chainsaw massacrists, and miniature congresspersons.
One time a kid came to our porch dressed as Kermit the Frog. I gave that kid a carton of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream from our freezer because his was the only costume I actually recognized among all the Jedis and licensed Disney characters. He deserved WAY more than a mere popcorn ball for that.
My yearly custom has always been to answer the door in costume. I do it for the kids. Most years I dress up as an out-of-work writer plagued by crippling self-doubt and introversion.
Sometimes we would get one or two kids whose costumes wore nothing more than glorified bedsheets with holes in them. And I would give these children extra popcorn balls because not everyone’s mom had time for costumes.
We also had a stand-offish religious family in our neighborhood who dressed…