Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Man the doors, men! It's Trick or Treat!"

Congratulations. You’ve been picked to “man the door” for Halloween. Your grand plan of sitting back and watching TV has just been smacked by a holiday of interruptions and various annoyances. You might as well make the best of it. After all, it could be worse. You could’ve “won” the annual coin toss and you could be taking your kids to the neighbors to beg for candy.

Your spouse assumes you know what to do. But do you really? The Wigderson Library & Pub offers this handy-dandy annual guide to “manning the door” to make your life easier. This year we've made some updates that you'll want to check out. Suggestions for additional rules are always welcome.

The two most important rules for when you see a man taking his kids out trick or treating:

1. Offer him a beer (unless he's driving). (Henceforth to be known as the Jazwiec rule.)
1a. The Miller corollary: Have plenty of Miller products for adults wearing leather bondage outfits. That's their target market now.
2. Update him on any NFL or college football scores he may want.

What about if the mom is taking her kids Trick or Treating?
1. Don't offer the beer. Most moms tend to frown on the activity. If she sees the cooler and asks, then it's okay.
2. For some reason, jello shots are an acceptable alternative, although not necessarily recommended.

What about grandparents?
1. Offer a beverage, water, beer, martini, bloody mary, whatever.
2. Compliment the kids’ costumes.
3. Offer a moment to rest if appropriate.
4. Don’t make them climb your stairs.

When the children come to the door, how much candy should you give them?
1. If they say, "Trick or Treat", they are allowed one handful.
2. If they just wave the bag at your face, they get a piece of candy you don't like.
3. They are NOT allowed to collect for their “sick brother or sister” at home. Politely say, “I’m sorry but I really need to hand out candy to only the kids who show up otherwise I will run out.” As they’re walking away, “Make sure you share with your sick brother {or sister}.”
Are there other mitigating factors?
1. If the child says "Please" instead of "Trick or Treat" a handful of candy is appropriate. If the child works "please" into saying "Trick or Treat" then slip some more candy into the bag. Or let them choose from the bowl what they want.
2. If they look 18, no costume, it's after hours, tell them to grow up and go home. Unless you live in Milwaukee and they look really menacing, then direct them to the crackhouse down the street. If they want $500 and are waving a gun, tell them the Jazwiec family lives on Milwaukee’s East Side. No word if Red Prairie is giving away free phones for Halloween.
Are there other rules for “manning the door”?
1. Don't ogle the sixteen-year-old in the cheerleader costume. Especially if you play pro football or if you've been drinking or if you have a hot tub. Or all three.
2. Don't ask the kids what costume they're wearing. Kids hate that, and it slows down the process. Or, as I had it explained to me once, "Look old man, I only got three hours to fill these bags with candy so I ain't got time for no dumb game of `can you guess what I am.'"
3. Volume is key. Move the kids along. Don't spend too much time chit-chattin' with the parents. Those other kids standing on the steps to your front door next to the pumpkin with the lit candle are a lawsuit waiting to happen, so keep them moving.
4. Don't scare the three-year-olds. Do you know how hard it is to change those costumes? It wasn't kids who threw the eggs at your house last year. It was the mom whose child's Winnie-the-Pooh costume suddenly became eponymous when you decided to jump out from behind the bushes.
5. Lock the dogs away. They think they want to be out but they don’t. You think you might want them out but you don’t. All it takes is one kid, one bite, and suddenly Halloween is not nearly as fun. Your dog doesn’t bite? How often does the dog see a bunch of kids coming to the door in scary costumes?
Are there acceptable alternatives to handing out candy?
1. Yes, you can hand out candy AND a little cheap Halloween knick-knack. Plastic spiders, spooky pencils, that kind of stuff.
2. But do not hand out religious tracts, political literature, environmental propaganda, and the like. The kids don’t care, and they’re just going to resent whatever special cause you think you’re helping. The parents DO care, and most of them don’t agree with your crap, whatever crap you’re pushing.
3. Don’t hand out pennies or nickels. What a pain if you’re a kid. “Look, not only did I get candy, I got seven cents.”
4. Hand out fruit only if you want the local police department to question you or if you have a really big rider on your homeowner’s insurance.
Are there rules about what kind of candy you should hand out?
1. Diet candy or sugar free candy is just obnoxious.
2. I recommend no bubble gum. Some kids are too young for it. Besides, Bazooka Joe comics are never funny.
3. Do not hand out old hard candy you picked up at the Dollar Store. You won’t eat it. Why would you feed it to kids?
4. Anything coffee-flavored sucks.
5. “Fun size” candy bars are best.
Tips for taking your kid Trick or Treating:
1. Don’t “neighborhood shop”. If you happen to live in an inconvenient location, pick a relative’s neighborhood. Rich neighborhoods have the same candy as poorer neighborhoods. And often the rich neighborhoods don’t answer their doors.
2. Don’t dump your kid in a strange neighborhood for three hours. Who do they know to talk to if there’s a problem?
3. Dress the kid appropriately for the weather. The kid may look cute in the costume, but hypothermia sucks.
4. Think and judge your kid’s participation level accordingly, and do it ahead of time. Decide on the limits. When there’s candy to be gained, your kid can always go to “one more house.” You know better, so why give in?
5. No kid should ever be alone.
6. Discourage the teenagers from going. Seriously. Have you ever heard one person say, “I’m really glad those middle and high school kids stopped by.” The exceptions should refer to rule#1 under “Other rules for manning the door.”
7. Dressing your daughter as a hooker is not a costume. It’s a problem, and it’s yours.
8. If the kid is not going to put on a real costume, it’s my guess he or she is now old enough to stay home and hand out candy. Dad’s ripped t-shirt and some badly drawn mascara lines do not make a costume.

Finally, at the end of the day, go through your child's haul and pick out the "unacceptable" candy (i.e. the candy you like), and also dispose of any candy unsuitable for the child's age (bubblegum cigar? Did I dress my kid like Baby Herman?). Then put the kids to bed and watch a classic horror film.

Find classic movies at