(This is a flash fiction submission for authonomy. I’m putting it here as I don’t think I’ll be able to find a home for it anywhere else. I promise I’m not this bitter in real life).
By knocking on the door to this propery (hereinafter referred to as the Door) on the evening of October 31st (hereinafter referred to as Halloween), you (the Trick-Or-Treater) are agreeing to enter into a contract with the householder (Trick-Or-Treatee), the terms and conditions of which are set out below:-
1. The Trick-Or-Treater (TOTer) should maintain an awareness that the Trick-Or-Treatee (TOTee) has his own life to lead. The TOTer should therefore familiarise himself with the relevant television schedules are arrange to call when the soaps are on. Parents planning to take younger children Trick-Or-Treating for the first time should research the prevailing trends in respect of dining times in their neighbourhood and arrange to escort their issue at the time when the TOTee is most likely to be sitting down to eat.
2. The TOTer should announce his presence by ringing on the Trick-Or-Treatee’s doorbell. Occasionally, putative TOTees may elect to switch off all the lights in their house and turn their televisions down to minimum volume. The TOTer shall regard this as evidence that the TOTee is an especially motivated participant in the Halloween rubric and must respond by repeatedly ringing on the doorbell until the TOTer answers.
3. Once the TOTee answers his door the TOTer must immediately utter the phrase “trick or treat” (the Phrase). Occasionally, the TOTee will appear to be in a distressed state. Preferred mannerisms include ostentiatious gestures of anger, tearfulness and asking loudly, “What do you want this time? I’ve got the missus on a promise here” .Such efforts on the part of the TOTee to enter into the Halloween spirit by answering the door in character should be met with polite laughter. Any TOTer who answers the door wearing a Halloween mask, on the other hand, should be regarded with suspicion and kicked on the shins.
4. The Phrase is to be read disjunctively. That is so say, the Trick-Or-Treatee, when presented with the options is at liberty to respond either ‘trick’ or ‘treat’. Other responses, save for those set out at Section (8) are frowned upon.
5. By issuing the “treat” response, the TOTer agrees to supply the TOTee with either confectionary to the value of seven pence or a novelty item from an unused Christmas Cracker, whichever is the cheapest. The TOTer will then hide the fact they were secretly hoping for money.
6. Should the TOTee answer, “Trick”, then the TOTer shall respond with act of minor civil disobedience. This must not be more trivial than upending the TOTee’s bins, nor should it exceed the gravity of loudly questioning his wife’s fidelity. Physical assaults are frowned upon, unless they involve the use of dairy-based deserts. For reference, if the TOTer’s chosen trick has previously appeared in a storyline in the popular cartoon, Oor Wullie, then it shall be deemed too tame and the TOTer forced to surrender his bounty to the older children under pain of wedgie.
7. The process of accepting a treat or administering a trick will not normally exceed thirty seconds. The exception shall be when the TOTer spies another party of TOTers. Under such circumstances, he shall loiter on the TOTee’s threshold long enough that it becomes impossible for the latter to close his door without appearing impolite to the later arrivals. The TOTee must then stand awkwardly at his door as he watches the second party pass by without calling on him as they’re,’only doing their mum’s book group this year’.
8. For every fourth call, the TOTee shall effect ignorance of the Trick-Or-Treat tradition, in spite of the fact it has been widely adopted in the United Kingdom for several decades now. Acceptable responses to the TOTer’s utterance of the Phrase shall include, “Are you threatening me?” and “Go away or I’ll call the police.”
9. After allowing half an hour to elapse after the last TOTer’s visit, the TOTee should emit an exaggerated sigh and remark that the Trick Or Treat process is a ghastly American import and not at all like burning the effigy of a Carolic recusant on Guy Fawkes night. House guests must nod politely and start preparing themselves for the fact he’ll start moaning about the shops putting up Christmas decorations too early any time now.