Trick or Treat for the Childless

Stone Devil

Originally published October 31, 2011. 

Every Halloween, in the elevator of my apartment building, there’s a sign-up sheet for residents willing to welcome treat-or-treaters. It’s never a long list, mostly just a smattering of names of people pressured into opening their apartments so desperate parents have a few places their kids can beg for candy. See, in the city, it’s considered poor etiquette to hit up another hi-rise for Halloween hooch—some parents would even say it’s dangerous without a background check and 23andMe DNA sample of every tenant.

And every October, with all good intentions, I promise myself that this will be the year I’m one of those people every parent is grateful for and every kid loves. The one who dresses up in some whacked-out bizarre—but not child-molester bizarre—costume and hands out high-sucrose booty by the Dutch oven-full. I’ve even gone so far as to come up with schematics of how I’ll transform my apartment’s gallery into a chamber of horrors rivaled only by The Walking Dead, with synthetic cobwebs, red Karo-syrup blood, and a gnawed hand or two poking out of the coat closet for added effect.

Inevitably, though, the day arrives and I’m ticked off, not to mention a touch pre-man-opausal, because once again time got away from me. The only things I have to hand out are a few fuzzy Mentos from my winter jacket and a couple of tiny bottles of limoncello a guest gave The One and I as a host gift.

American Horror Story: CultSo there I sit, silent in my darkened apartment, slumped in the Queen Anne chair, glowering. And as the cacophony of shouts and bangs on the door crescendoes, I hurl invectives at the sugar-crazed mafia of six-year-olds in the hallway because they’re making me miss the latest episode of American Horror Story: Cult.

Some years I slink out to the nearest SweetGreens, fearful I’ll come face to face with a co-op board member in the elevator who’ll look at the sign-up sheet bereft of my name and then skewer me with a slow-burning gaze that says, You will never be able to get a potential buyer for your apartment through the co-op interview. Ever.

But this year I’ve devised a simple way to assure that we misanthropic childless tenants will throw open our doors for the kiddies in the building—even for little Lili, the petulant six-year-old next door who I’m certain will grow up to be a leather-clad dominatrix with tattoos covering 82 percent of her body. It’s a little game of quid pro quo. I win, you win, and the kids are none the wiser. So neighbors, if you want me to give the fruits of the Fruit of your Looms a multimedia phantasmagorical display they’ll never forget, here’s what I’d like to see in my trick-or-treat bag, which will be hanging prominently from the doorknob of apartment 13G:

1. First, nix the apples—with or without razor blades. And forget anything with oats, seeds, or, god forbid, flax. Halloween isn’t, nor has it ever been, a high-fiber holiday. Just ask your kids.

2. You know me: a great, big, fat lobe of foie gras delivered Halloween afternoon. This way when the kids stop by I can shock them by eating offal.

3. A bottle of 1977 vintage Port. Warre’s will work; so will Fonseca Val de Mendiz. (A gift of my own quinta, or wine estate, in the Douro valley in Portugal will certainly earn you a platinum treat this October 31.)

4. A six-month supply of crisp-fried pommes frites tossed with white truffle oil and served with Gorgonzola cream sauce and Cabernet demi-glace from Restaurant Moosilauke in Kent, CT. Here’s the catch: The place has closed, so you’ll have to track down the chef. Think of it as trying to contact the dead. Spooky!

5. A dozen caramel macarons with sea salt from Pierre Hermé in Paris (on rue Bonaparte, naturellement). While you’re there, a box of Truffles (Chocolat au Lait & Thé Vert) couldn’t hurt.

6. A Moby-size container of Sex, Drugs, and Rocky Road rice pudding from Rice to Riches. No toppings, please. I’m a purist.

7. Suzanne Goin’s Cipollini Onion and Bleu de Gex Tart with Roasted Red Grapes, made by her at her restaurant Lucques in Los Angeles.

8. My kitchen, renovated. This is an expensive one, I know, which is why I think this should be a group effort. If all of you parents in the F, G, and J lines get together and work with the co-op board and Sam, our super, you can knock it out in time for Thanksgiving. I’ll even bake a few pumpkin pies as a thank you. (Tip: Miele, Traulsen, and Viking appliances make me very, very happy.)

9. What good is a new kitchen with a bad view? The water tower on the roof of the building next door is the only thing standing between me and a view of Central Park. Moving it about 30 feet south would do the trick.

Kitchen Window

10. My own show on the Food Network. This isn’t as hard as it seems. You know the guy in the building who wears nothing but black Dolce & Gabbana suits and black shirts? He’s in the film business. (I admit it. I read his mail over his shoulder in the elevator.) He’s got to have some pull. After all, he’s friends with some executive from one of the networks. (I heard him screaming into his cell phone one afternoon in the lobby of our building.) So, Mr. Producer, if you can snag me a show on TVFN, just wait till you see what I’ll cook up for your twins (who, by the way, are mini terrorists when you and your wife aren’t looking).

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. After all, there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa still to come. Hey, I’ll be your Santa bitch, as long as you keep my stocking stuffed.

David Leite's signature


  1. Dear David, I finished reading your book Notes on a Banana this morning. Thank you for being so brave and open and for sharing your story. It was so moving and compelling and inspiring. I am a Canadian fan and fellow foodie. I often forward your recipes to my friends and fellow foodies. Thanks for being you. You are a gift. Just remember there are lots of us who have love to share. Best wishes to you for a lifetime of love, happiness, and good cooking and good eating.

  2. Palacio da Pena! Ingracada foto.

    Caro David, desejava transmitir-lhe os meus parabens para o seu delicioso livro made in luso-americanodescendencia.

    Muitas boas festas,

    Silvi de Almeida

  3. David, I nearly fell off the chair in fits of laughter. At my condo, the concierge put out a dish of candy. Is it fair that I took a handful of mini Butterfingers when I’m pretty much an adult now? It’s probably too late, since I gobbled them up the following day.

  4. In my apt. block, our caretaker put up a sign for anyone wishing to donate candy or any kind to her, then she and her young daughter dress up the front of the block and hand out candy. No trick or treaters go inside.

  5. David,even though I live in a “child-friendly neighborhood” it appears that my neighbors all know that I only like children with fur whose comment on life at all times is meow, and I never get any Rug Rats at my door. After two years of this, I learned my lesson. I now only buy really expensive truffles that I want to eat myself. That way when they’re all left on November 1 I can “treat” myself.

  6. LMAO!! This was an absolutely entertaining read!! I do have a real suggestion, though, as I found it quite surprising that kids were even allowed to go door-to-door in an apartment building. Where I am from (Canada, and I must say it seems like another planet at times) kids are not permitted to do this for basically the two reasons you dabbled in: A) child predators B) tenant privacy. What they do have instead, though, is notices are put up that tenants can “donate” treats, and time if they wish, through the super/manager. The super/manager/tenants set up the tables in the entrance foyer (all decked out in dollar store deco) and hand out the goodies from there. I used to lived in a 100-unit rise, so they would have 4 or 5 places the kiddos could get their fix from (but that depended on the amount of volunteer help they got from the tenants as to how many depots there were available to loot). To be honest, I had never heard of such a thing until I read this…..they just don’t do it at home, I guess lol kudos my friends for surviving another year!!!

  7. When I lived in an apartment building, they did the same thing (sign-up sheet in the elevator). I NEVER signed up. NEVER. I hated it and even hoped everyone noticed that I never signed up (aka STAY AWAY!). However, now that I’m in a house, in a highly kid-centric neighborhood BTW (ugh), I’ve actually handed out candy (well, except once or twice, when I was madder’n hell about that very kid-centricity…ack!). The trick, I think, is to never buy too much candy, so that I eventually run out. And when I do, I just go back indoors and turn out the lights. At least, now I get to call the shots! Woo-Hooooooo!

  8. David, perhaps you need to move to a country which doesn’t really celebrate the whole trick or treat thingy – like Australia?!
    For years my kids have envied US children who get to hit up perfect strangers for candy, but I have solidly resisted their pleas citing the fact that it is not an Australian celebration. Works for us!

  9. I fill the FSA (future stripper’s of america) and FHA (future hoodlum’s of america) bellies all year round with copius amounts of fat and sugar from my kitchen. It’s really quite the wonderous sight watching the little beasties bounce off the walls of their homes whilst their parents tear their hair out. So Halloween is a non-event at our house. I get all year to watch the little sugar plum freakies get their sugar high on.

  10. I, on the other hand, just saw there was no sign-up sheet downstairs in our lobby. A first. So I made my own and slapped it on the wall next to the elevator, ensuring I and others who want to see the little darlings with their costumes can do so. It’s just not Halloween without sending someone else’s kids home to bounce off the walls from all the sugar…

  11. David, you and The One can always come over here and drink wine with the blinds closed while our town’s hoodlums-in-training run up and down the streets. The bonus is that we don’t have any co-op board to give us disapproving looks – I don’t even talk to any of my neighbors, so there’s no guilt here!

  12. I love this! On Halloween I wish I did live in an apartment. I’d hate to see the condition of my car and yard after trying any of your suggestions. I’m afraid I’m still gonna be their Halloween Bitch again this year! You haven’t seen the look on the parents faces as they size you up while giving their little ghouls a piece of candy, no two pieces…or you get “the look.” It’s the parents I fear! Maybe I should just turn out the lights…

    1. Yes, neighborly extortion is always on dialed high during Halloween. As if it’s your responsibility to entertain their kids! But interestingly enough, I’m on a cruise in Indonesia, and last night there was adult trick or treating…. Maybe I’m just a malcontent!

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