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Trick Or Treat

A few of my housemates and I were in town for Christmas. We got to talking about how we like celebrations, but just aren't that into celebrating the birth of baby jesus.

It occurred to us that a celebration we do like, though, is Halloween. So, Jesse, Celeste, and I got dressed up and went trick-or-treating.

This was an absolutely hilarious time, and a pretty interesting experience. Sometimes you could almost see the wheels turning in people's heads when they opened the door and we yelled "Trick Or Treat!" Some people were enamored, some were disgusted, some never got over their confusion, and some didn't miss a beat. Strangely enough, about 50% of the time we were able to convince the people that this was an absolutely normal thing, and that perhaps they were the strange ones for not knowing about it.

"But... but... Halloween was months ago?" they might say.

"Ohhh, you're from out of town or something, then?" we'd reply.

"No, err, yes, I guess — but I've lived here twenty years."

"Well, it is December 25th, isn't it?"

"Right. That's Christmas." they'd say hesitantly, as if maybe they got the day wrong.

"Well, its' a pretty common San Francisco tradition for people to trick or treat on December 25th. We do it every year! You haven't had any other trick or treaters tonight?"

One of my favorite characters from the night was a middle-aged Italian guy who didn't act as if anything were strange. "Yes! I'll a-be right a-back!" He came back with a zip-lock bag of turkey leftovers and a zip-lock bag of pasta sauce. "Now, this is very special sauce. You will not find anything like dis in dis coun-tar-ry. You have pasta at home?"

"Thanks! Yes, we have pasta."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, we're sure."


"I'll get you some pasta. I want to make sure you do this right."

He came back with a box of ziti and told us how to make pasta. "The other people inside, they think you koo-koo. But me, I am from ee-taly! I love it!”

And then there was the big old grandma who opened the door in the lower haight. "You's crazy! This is Christmas! Not Halloween!" Eventually her adult daughter came to the door and couldn't get over us. The whole time she was talking with us, her mother was standing behind her yelling "Where are your parents! Where are your par-ents!" Every once in a while the daughter would turn around and say "Mama! They grown!"

"You need to call your parents on the telephone! Ask them what day it is!"

The younger woman knocked on her neighbor's house and yelled up the stairs "Hey! They're here trick or treating! You ever heard of that?"

Eventually they gave us each a little candy-cane.

One thing that I didn't expect was the number of really lonely people that we ran into. In particular, one woman our age opened the door with a face of pure depression. "I'm sorry, I didn't get anything either. I'm here all alone." We tried to convince her to come trick or treating with us, but she said she didn't have anything for a costume.

Over and over again, we'd see the glow of a TV through the window, knock, and encounter a truly lonely face.

The other strange thing was how frequently we'd just get buzzed into a building. We'd ring, and the door would buzz open. We'd walk up to the door we rang originally, and there'd be someone there smiling. Eventually they'd start to look confused and say "Wait, I don't know you, do I?" "Trick or treat!" we'd yell back.

We stumbled into a party once, where we were each given an hourdourve as our treat.

In general, it was pretty exciting to see what people were up to on a night like that, and to catch a glimpse into different people's lives.

© 2012 Moxie Marlinspike