November 1, 2006
Where I grew up, trick or treating was a simple, if terrifying, procedure. You wore yourself out going house to house, trying to be cool despite the fact that your mother was shadowing your every movement, trying not to get beat up by marauding big kids if you got too far away from your mother, and trying to avoid the houses that you believed were haunted even on the non-Halloween days of the calendar. (Remember that old lady with the apples? You think the apples were a COINCIDENCE?)
So people from back home always ask me, in wonderment, ‘How can you trick or treat in New York, with all that concrete and steel and not so much with the haunted houses?’
I answer them with a quote from renowned architect Robert A. M. Stern, who famously said, ‘The genius of the modern high rise apartment building is that it is, as it were, the most elegant machine devised by man for the aggregation and distribution of fun-size candy bars. It is uniquely suited for this purpose, if no other, and I doubt that a better way will be found in the centuries to come.’
So here is how it is done. We have a pretty darn good system. If you don’t live in New York, I’m sorry for ya. You could have a LOT MORE CANDY.
Step 1: Don costume.
(Tip: You’d look scarier if you weren’t holding your mom’s hand. Just saying.)
Step 2: Subway.
(Tip: Remove your mask. The subway is scary enough. Also, the better to see costumed dogs.
Step 3: Elevator.
(Tip: If there are girls, especially 3 girls who go to a Girls School and are all dressed as Wonder Woman and who are your age but seem a lot older than you, it is best not to speak to them or make eye contact.)
Step 4: Apartment door.
People in apartment buildings are always worried there will not be enough kids for the 8 bushels of candy they bought at Duane Reade. This is why they urge you to take handfuls of the stuff. Do them a favor: grab all you can hold. (Ignore your mother, for she does not understand how you want to help the people.)
Step 5: Bowl on Floor, aka Pay Dirt.
(Tip: You don’t really need a tip here. The Bowl on Floor is the Promised Land. Block your mom’s view as you dive in. Some poor sucker didn’t make it home from work in time, but took care of you. Who says New Yorkers aren’t big ol’ sweetie-pies?)
A minimally connected city child can hit anywhere from 2 to 6 buildings in short order, depending on speed of elevator service. Scores of apartments, bada-bing, bada-boom. Devastating amounts of candy. And that’s not counting…..
West 69th Street, where you might run into
Your sister, aka the love child of Uncle Fester and Lily Munster.
West 69th Street is all the proof we need that adults are way more into Halloween than kids.
This is the lobby of an otherwise nondescript building. Where do they keep this stuff the rest of the year? Is there a cardboard box in the storage room marked corpses/guts/floating skull?
If it gets to be too much for you, head around the corner to Lancome. Treats from a well made-up lady who smells GREAT.
But what chilled us to our very core?
Was it this Veiled Lady who surely IS a spectre wandering the earth, or…..
AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Intarsia cardigan!
(That was your knitting content, by the way.)