When your biggest gripe on Halloween is that a bunch of less-fortunate kids come knocking on your door for candy, you might be a big, mean witch.
Every once in a while, someone will say something so tone-deaf, so self-involved, so completely messed up, that you’re forced to do a spit take, look at them sideways and wonder if that person is a real person or if they are an invader from Planet Douche, here to mess with your greater sensibilities.
That’s the reaction I had this morning while reading Dear Prudence — a sort of guilty pleasure of mine — when I stumbled across a gripe someone had about all the icky urchin kids that invade their neighborhood around Halloween, getting their gross poor all over everything. The letter writer opens with some exposition about their neighborhood: It’s rich. Like filthy, stinkin’ rich. Not that the writer lives in the really rich part, of course. They live over with all the poor, underprivileged doctors and lawyers.
Sounds awesome, you’re probably thinking. What’s the problem? The problem, pleb, is that kids from “less-fortunate areas” have been uppity enough in the past to go trick-or-treating in this very neighborhood, even though they clearly don’t belong. The writer finds this highly inappropriate:
“Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday? But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?”
Well, this person can’t feel too terrible, because they didn’t gross themselves out enough to not vomit all these actual words out onto a computer screen, unfortunately for everyone else.
I grew up really, really poor. Oddly, trick-or-treating was never an issue, because our trailer park could only be described as “unnaturally, terrifyingly massive,” but this still gets under my skin in a really fundamental way. These little street rats aren’t trick-or-treating in her neighborhood to piss him or her off; they’re doing it because they live in complexes or in rough neighborhoods where trick-or-treating is either an impossibility or a terrible idea. They get one night to just be a kid, and this is how they do it. Don’t like it? Shut off your porch light like a normal person, and go stroke all your Waterford crystal or something until you feel better.
I’m not poor now. I live in a modest if not wealthy neighborhood. It’s not a brag; it’s just a means for comparison. I haven’t lived here on Halloween yet, but it would never even enter my mind to be annoyed if less-fortunate kids came around, hungry for snacks. A kid is a kid is a kid, right?
What galls me the most is the undertone of the letter. This person already begrudgingly pays all their taxes, so why can’t the poors just go be invisible somewhere else? Why do they need handouts?
Halloween is literally a holiday of handouts. The entire social contract of Halloween is this: I put on a costume, you hand out some delicious free candy to me. Apparently we all have to stay in our lanes, though, so as not to taint this sacred holiday of only having to be nice to kids who have as much money as yours do.