VIOLA - “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!”
I’m sure my parents tired of hearing me say this every October. I’ll bet the neighbors whose houses we went to didn’t appreciate it either. It was a silly greeting we all learned on the playground, and as a kid I thought it was hysterical.
My dad usually took me trick-or-treating, when I was younger. He’d walk with me house to house and wait at the end of the driveway. I’d carry a brown paper bag and fill it up with everything I loved that wasn’t good for me, except the boring pennies Mrs. Mahoney would always give. I didn’t like her.
At each house, I’d march up the drive, ring the bell and shout, “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.” The worst was when they’d say back, “Do a trick!” What? That’s not supposed to be part of the deal, I’d think. I didn’t like those people either.
Trick-or-treating happened at night, with all the mystery that darkness brings. Tripping over garden hoses, being startled by other trick-or-treaters cutting across the lawn, and those creepy skulls with flashing red eyes that people would leave out on a chair next to a bowl of candy were all parts of the freaky experience.
I hated getting those orange marshmallow pumpkins, but my sister Jill loved them and I’d trade her for a Kit Kat bar or a Reese’s peanut butter cup. Another thing I wasn’t too keen on was the so-called “fun size” candy. What exactly is fun about getting less than half of a real candy bar?
A kimono that my dad had bought me as a gift became one of my favorite Halloween costumes. Not long ago, I came across a photo of me wearing it and doing a karate-type pose. I mailed it to my mom, who phoned and left a message on my answering machine. She was laughing so hard she could hardly talk. I was about to hit delete when she stuttered, “Oh, Janie, that picture you sent me—you were such a creepy kid!”
Hmmm, maybe she was right.
Trick-or-treating lost its appeal when we switched from going out at night to daylight. The change happened because of someone tampering with the candy. I heard my mom talking about it with my dad. After that we had to dump out our goody bags and let my mom go through every piece and make sure none of the packages had been opened. She tossed out any apples and oranges we received, worrying that something might have been put in them–nothing like ruining a child’s happy-go-lucky holiday.
Later, as a parent, I’d accompany my daughter house to house just like my dad did with me. Somehow, Jessica learned the smelly feet rhyme and loved to chant it–just like I used to do.
Dressing Jessica up in her costumes was great fun for both of us. My favorite was when she went as Pippi Longstocking, with her hair in a messy braid, two different socks, one up, one down, and our Great Dane, Jake, sprinkled with baby powder to make him look like Pippi’s white horse. I’m pretty sure Jessica’s favorite costume was being a nurse.
After years of dressing up for Halloween as a child, and then as an adult who worked at a club where Halloween parties were part of the job description, I’m happy to just be myself. The first year I moved to my home in the country, I had Kit Kats (full size, of course) waiting in a bowl. Not a single trick-or-treater came–more Kit Kats for me!
This Halloween will be my 18th living in this area. Sometime during the day, I’ll either pick up the phone or listen on the answering machine to my mom’s annual message to me: “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat! Do you remember that, Janie?” Yes, Mom, I sure do.