There are two reasons to Halloween-proof your house this year. First, the neighborhood kids don't like you. I don't care how nice you are to them the rest of the year, the word is out that last year many of you doused your lights and hid out in your garages munching mini-Snickers. Don't feel too guilty. If you are over 30 and own your own house, you are the enemy — at least on this particular day.
The second reason is that the recession has forced many ghosts and goblins to take on additional work to supplement their income. According to the Missouri Vocational Aptitude Test results, "trick and treating" comes up as the No. 1 aptitude for beings of the supernatural kind.
For these reasons you need to take extra steps to protect yourself, your property and any relatives you want to hang on to. Don't expect Homeland Security to handle this for you, even though domestic and international flights are at Level Orange and that is the same color as a pumpkin. HLS is too busy keeping terrorists from TPing government buildings.
NOTE: If you live in a hurricane zone you probably already know how to protect your house. If you're not sure which zone you live in, ask yourself this question: Do I say y'all? If the answer is yes, you live in a hurricane zone — or should.
Traditionally, people have protected their houses on Halloween by having truckloads of assorted miniature candy bars delivered at the end of October. This approach bribes kids to leave homes unvandalized. Bribery is illegal and a terrible example to set for our nation's children.
Also, while effective, this approach is no fun for the kids. Where I grew up, we invented Cabbage Night. This is a time when kids can trash cars, houses and yards in as many ways as their fiendish little minds can conjure up.
The elegance of Cabbage Night is that it is nondiscriminatory. As it comes the night before Halloween, before the kids know who will give them candy and how much, they can trash everyone equally with a clear conscience. We always set aside some reserve ammunition to deal with any Halloween Night cheapos.
To Halloween-proof your house you'll need a number of items, most important of which is a full-length mirror. This should be placed near your front door so you can see it from your window.
Some vandalism tricks to watch out for:
1) Throwing eggs: A favorite Halloween pastime. One way to thwart this is to hang white sheets from the eaves of your house. At night the sheets will look like siding. The next morning you simply take them down and toss them in the washing machine. If your house is brick or painted a dark color, consider painting it white.
2) Draping a house in toilet paper: Another perennial choice of little goblins everywhere. When you pull on the TP, it breaks off higher up where you can't reach it. A simple solution is to light the bottom of the TP with a match and keep a hose handy. (This is not recommended for TP'd trees.)
3) This trick isn't described above but never try to stomp out a burning paper bag on your doorstep. You'll just have to take my word on this.
For multiyear protection you can Teflon coat your house, which has the added advantage of preventing burglars from shinnying up your drainpipe. Also, invest in motion detectors, floodlights and a water cannon. The Japanese police have found the latter very effective in controlling unruly crowds of short people.
WARNING: If you don't give a ten-year old Dracula a treat, he might TP your house. If you don't give a real vampire a treat, you'll never look tan again. On that topic, should a Halloween creature show up in front of your home, but not in the mirror — call 911.
And you might want to think about sharing those mini-Snickers.
This Column’s Thought-Byte: For many a man there comes a time in his life when he believes he has only his past accomplishments to look forward to.