Editor’s Note: This post is part of a monthly feature in which Ryan takes an actual letter written to “Dear Abby” and answers it himself. For further background see the introductory post here, or maybe also here. This post should not be read while operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle. Even one of those self-driven cars. Actually, especially if it’s one of those self-driven cars.)
This month’s letter was published on October 19, 2014, and quoted in full, reads as follows:
DEAR ABBY: I am a retired widow, crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. Every October, I start dreading Halloween, which I consider to be a legal form of extortion. Living on Social Security, I really don’t want to waste money for candy. Also, it is difficult for me to get up and down every five minutes to hand out candy. Too many of the “children” are 16- to 19-year-old males. I have tried keeping the lights off and “hiding” in my bedroom, but I wake the next morning to find toilet paper in my trees and shrubbery. Once, my front door had been sprayed “Stingy Old Witch.” The police said they couldn’t act because I didn’t see who did it. Of course, even if I had seen them, they probably would have been in a costume. Do you have any suggestions? — GROUCHY GRANDMA IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
DEAR GROUCHY GRANDMA IN AUSTIN, TEXAS: First let me just say, you’re preaching to the choir, (grand)sister. I’m a retired trick-or-treater, also crippled, not from rheumatoid arthritis but emotionally from the Great Pumpkin Fiasco of 1994 (vengeance is a dish best served with an exploding football, Charlie Brown. Comeuppance!). I also dread Halloween, although I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a legal form of extortion. If anything it’s racketeering, conceived of and carried out by the Candy Industrial Complex, with the help of their co-conspirators Big Costume and the all-powerful Pumpkin Cartel. But extortion? Please. That’s being a little dramatic, don’t you think?