Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trick or Treat Economics


Tonight as we walked along the sidewalk in our neighborhood while trick or treating, Katie announced upon seeing a political yard sign, "I don't want to trick or treat at a Romney house."

I laughed and assured her it would be fine to accept candy from a Romney supporter, that they're probably perfectly nice people who just happen to disagree with us.  These six year olds are so into the Us vs. Them mentality.

Our interaction tonight reminded me of this essay I wrote four years ago about trick or treating during that election year.  I'll share it with you here:

Like so many parents before us, Will and I walked along with our child, teaching her the graceful art of begging for candy from strangers. It was Halloween night, just a few days before the 2008 presidential election.  Kate dressed as a honey bee, garnering many compliments and general oohs and ahhs. A few women opened the door and called their husbands away from the TV to come see the cutest little bee they’d ever seen. Many, after allowing Kate to choose what candy she wanted from a bowl and seeing that she would daintily pick only one piece, used their giant adult hands to grab fistfuls of candy and plunk it into her bag. I'm telling you: cuteness gets you places in this world.

Will dressed as a Whole Foods employee (he wore his work hat) and I dressed as a political junkie (I wore an "I voted in Johnson County" sticker on my Obama shirt, had an Obama sticker on my back and an Obama button on my bag), which is to say, we went as ourselves. I left the syringe and ketchup at home.  I thought smearing ketchup on my arm to look like fake blood and carrying around a syringe would add the right amount of junkie to the political junkieness of my outfit, but Will insisted people could tell I was a political junkie simply by watching my excitement every time we saw an Obama sign in some old white man's yard. At least that's what I think he meant when he grumbled, "Why do you have to inject politics into EVERYTHING?!"

The honey bee stole the show. No one stopped Will or me to discuss locally grown produce or the problem with trickle down economics. But several people stopped Kate to plead with her not to sting them.

One block close to ours had nearly every house participating, each house trying to outdo the other in Halloween decorations and general ghoulish gaiety. There were swarms of people in the streets (some with obvious open containers in hand) watching their kids trick or treat, reminding them to "say thank you!" after each house.  It’s nice to see that even inebriated parents want their children to mind their manners, although I was jealous neither Will nor I thought to BYOB.

Most Americans would say the 4th of July is the holiday we set aside to celebrate our unity and sense of community. I say it's Halloween, where we watch our little honey bees and superheroes and fairy princesses and zombies and hobos walk from neighbor to neighbor, participating in the annual tradition of trusting our neighbors not to poison the little people we cherish more than anything in this world. Some of those neighbors might not have voted for Obama a few days later because they'd been tricked into thinking his redistributive economic policies are bad (not realizing the Republican Teddy Roosevelt initiated the concept). Yet those same neighbors generously share fistfuls of treats with not just their own children, but all the children who knock at their door.