Shortly after 7:30 p.m. on a crisp October evening, a doorbell rings at an undecorated house in a Williamson County neighborhood. A middle-age man gets up and grumbles his way to the door. When he opens it, three children in costume call out in unison, “Trick-or Treat!”
Man: Yea, yea, yea. You know what? I hate Halloween. I don’t care for Christmas either, but this is worse. I believe Halloween is indoctrinating children into socialism. Ring a doorbell and give us candy. Don’t have to work for the candy, just show up and hold out the bag. Entitlement. And everybody’s expected to put something in. Next year you’ll be ringing my doorbell expecting free college and free healthcare. I don’t like Christmas either, but at least
Kid #1: Sir, I was just hoping for a Reese Cup.
Man: You’re not foolin’ me. It’s like that children’s book, If You Give A Mouse a Cookie. Tonight it’s a free Twixt bar, and tomorrow you’ll be back asking for free public transportation and the cancellation of all your student loan debt. And you know who’s gonna pay for all that? ME, that’s who!
Kid #2: Mister, it sounds to me like you might wanna up your dosage of Prozac. But in the meantime, let me tell you something—do you think me dressing up like the princess in Frozen was my idea? No, I wanted to go as Ruth Bader Ginsburg but my Mom said that wouldn’t go over well here in Governor’s Club.
And here’s another thing. My Apple watch says I’ve walked 1.7 miles and my bag is still half-empty. Next year, I’m going to tell my Dad to drop me off in a subdivision like Westhaven where the houses are closer together.
By the way, Mr. Scrooge, what are you handing out, anyway? I hope it’s not those orange marshmallow things shaped like peanuts. Those things taste nasty, but they do make good door-stoppers. Speaking of peanuts, I have a peanut allergy, so no Snickers or Baby Ruths. But that doesn’t mean I want a pack of baby carrots.
And how about springing for the full-size candy instead of the fun-size. Fun-size is just another word for cheapskate. Halloween is once a year; go full-size on the candy. Besides, you can afford it. Isn’t that a Tesla in the driveway?
Man: My gosh, you talk a lot. Your little friend there — does he speak?
Kid #3: I’m Nathan. I feel very self-conscious in this costume and the mask is making my face sweat. I’m an introvert, so going door-to-door like this and speaking to strangers is terrifying. Frankly, I’m not sure the candy is worth it.
But I’m a 9 on the Enneagram — a Peacemaker — which means I go along to get along, especially with an 8 — a Challenger — like Annie, who often feels the need to exert influence over others, including adults like you.
Man: Well, she’s not exerting influence over me, I can tell you that. No little kid…
Kid # 1: Can I come in and use your bathroom? That juice box just went right through me.
Man: No, you can’t come in my house and use the bathroom!
Kid #2: My dad’s a psychologist and he says that thanks to men like you, he’ll always have job security.
Man: Well, you can tell your dad I said he’s an idiot.
Kid #2: You can tell him yourself. He’s standing right back there at the curb. Hold on a second. HEY DAD, CAN YOU COME HERE? THIS MAN HAS SOMETHING HE WANTS TO TELL YOU.
Man: No, No, No. Listen, I’m outta candy so…
Kid #3: I really had my heart set on a Reese Cup.
Man: Well, I’ve got no candy!
Kid #2: Cash is good. We take cash.
Man: WHAT??!! You smart…
Kid #2: HEY DAD, THIS MAN IS BEING MEAN. WE COULD USE SOME HELP HERE…
Man: (Shouts out into the dark) THERE’S NO PROBLEM. EVERYTHING’S FINE HERE. (reaches into his back pocket, removes his billfold, pulls out a twenty, and stuffs it in the girl’s bag.) There, now get outta here! (and he closes the door).
Kid #1: Annie, your Dad isn’t standing out there at the curb. That’s my grandmother. You knew that.
Kid #2: Right. And if Granny will drive us to Walmart, we can get out of these stupid costumes, with 20 bucks to spend on candy.
Kid #3: Annie, sometimes you worry me. But I do believe you’re gonna make a great lobbyist in Washington someday.
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read Presson’s previous columns go to https://tinyurl.com/yydj72a