Shelby Cross wants to save your children from real monsters this Halloween.
In her "Cross Examination" segment, the Onion News Network correspondent (portrayed in all her unhinged glory by brilliant U of U theater-department alum Klea Blackhurst) says, "It is time to stop gift-wrapping our children and hand-delivering them to the predators among us!" And, by the simple expedient of some sedative-laced candy, Cross shows how she was able to rescue an entire neighborhood of potential trick-or-treating victims from the looming pedophile threat:
Now, of course, ONN is parody. Yes, like all good parody, it's biting -- sometimes painfully so. The reason it works, though, is because it contains a nugget of truth. In this case, the truth is that so many parents are so utterly terrified their children could be exposed to uncontrollable influences, they've practically succeeded in cancelling Halloween.
Which is a shame. When I was a kid, my brother and I went trick-or-treating throughout the neighborhood every year. Yes, sometimes weird things happened -- for instance, when I was 8, some mean kids knocked me down and stole my pillowcase full of candy. In order to recoup my losses, I had to return home for a fresh pillowcase before retracing the entire candy route, explaining at each stop to sympathetic neighbors the injustice that had befallen me. When I was 10, some arty hippie-type adults presented me with a bowl whose contents were so obscured by dry-ice vapor that I feared for the safety of my hand as I reached into the smoky void. Was I reaching into a bowlful of mousetraps? Razor blades? No, as it turned out -- it was just a bowlful of fun-size M&Ms. But, as it turned out, my desire for candy was stronger than my fear of being permanently maimed by psycho Halloween tricksters.
These were not only good times, but also educational. I learned that there were a lot of strange people in the neighborhood, and some of their houses had a weird smell, but everybody was nice enough to hand out free candy on Halloween. Never once did we get a razor-blade apple (thank heavens) or an LSD-laced lick & stick tattoo (more's the pity). Never once did any molester invite us into his/her home for perverted tricks and/or treats.
I think the lesson we learned was that, in general, we can trust our neighbors. We can rely on each other. Yes, there are undoubtedly a few genuine, scary, child predators out there in our neighborhoods, but they know it would be the height of stupidity to prey on kids at Halloween. (More likely, they wait until Thanksgiving, when parents are drowsy from marathon cooking and tryptophan ingestion.) In fact, the perverts are probably the dumbass people who keep all their lights off and don't answer their doors or give away any candy. We hated those when we were trick-or-treating. Stupid jerks.
Parents are so scared, though, that they have resorted to ersatz "trunk-or-treat" events. These are intended to protect the children by ensuring that only good, like-minded adults are exposed to the precious poppets. They also completely ruin everything for the kids. Halloween loses all meaning and becomes another total-control helicopter-parenting play-date affair, just like any other day of the children's dreary, over-monitored lives. No kid has any chance of getting knocked down, or reaching into a bowl of dry ice. The children just go through the motions, dressing up in parentally approved costumes, and ending up with bagfuls of parentally approved treats.
Or do they? Don't forget the 2005 mishap in which a kid attending a "trunk-or-treat" in a Lehi LDS-church parking lot received a vial of cocaine in his candy bag.
Well, obviously that was a bad mixup. But it just goes to show that overparenting cannot prevent life's misfortunes. (Also, imagine the consternation of those cokeheads when they realized they had been snorting Pixie Stix all night!)