Halloween has rolled around once again here in the States. The day when children don costumes and masks and go door to door in the time-honored tradition of trick or treating, ringing bells and holding out little plastic pumpkins for treats.
It's the only day of the year when it's okay to take candy from strangers. Except Mom and Dad will probably have the candy x-rayed before allowing Junior to eat it, because God knows it's much safer to let the kids swallow chocolate with a radiation chaser.
I remember the days when you didn't need to worry about someone slipping a Mickey into your Mars Bar. We went trick or treating in homemade costumes, usually made from bits and pieces of this and that found in the basement or attic, and held together with Elmer's glue, safety pins, and a lot of luck. We donned our rattiest clothes, smeared dirt on our faces, and went as hobos, or drizzled glitter on that year's Easter dress along with a pair of construction-paper wings and wand, and went as a fairy. It was never anything fancy or store-bought, but positively dripping with imagination.
We went by ourselves, without parental supervision, in packs of ten or more, ringing bells and shouting "Trick or Treat" into the faces of whoever dared open them. Our plastic pumpkins and pillowcases grew heavier by the hour as we trudged block to block, leaving a wake of toilet-papered trees behind us in the years of those unfortunate souls too terrified (or cheap) to answer the doorbell.
Ah, the good old days.