Even full-sized candy bars aren’t enough to tempt trick-or-treaters to veer into neighborhood cul-de-sacs. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Even full-sized candy bars aren’t enough to tempt trick-or-treaters to veer into neighborhood cul-de-sacs. (Jennifer Bardsley)

The horror that is Halloween when you live in a cul-de-sac

She did all she could to turn their house into the one trick-or-treaters would gossip about.

That saddest place on Halloween is the neighborhood cul-de-sac. It’s like being the wallflower at a dance, the last kid chosen for a softball team or the toddler at play group with the perpetual runny nose.

When you live in a cul-de-sac on Halloween, nobody wants you. They march down the street and barely give the entrance to your cul-de-sac a second glance.

In 2018, I decided to change that. 2018 was going to be the year when everyone wanted to come to my front door, even if it meant walking an extra 2 minutes on a dead-end street. Not only would trick-or-treaters seek me out, but their parents would linger on my front porch for an impromptu Halloween block party.

To accomplish this lofty goal, I needed three things: full-sized candy bars, a beverage station and advertising. Buying the candy was easy; keeping my family from eating it was trickier. I stocked up on spiced cider and to-go cups and dusted off my Crock-Pot.

When Halloween arrived, I set up a table on my front porch complete with a bucket packed with allergy-friendly goodies, and posted a picture on our neighborhood Facebook group. “Be sure to trick or treat at the Bardsleys’!” I wrote.

Night fell. I turned on every light in the house and cranked up some spooky music. Wrapped up in a blanket, I settled in our rocker on the front porch, confident that trick-or-treaters would arrive any moment. “Have fun,” I said, waving at my husband and kids as they left for their own trick-or-treating adventures. I sipped from my mug of cider, careful not to burn my tongue. Then I waited.

And waited and waited.

Maybe no one had seen my Facebook post? I double checked that my picture was still up. Nope, everything looked fine. Perhaps it wasn’t late enough to go trick-or-treating yet — except that it was dark out. Or maybe they couldn’t see my house from the entrance to the cul-de-sac — except that every light was on. Perhaps the spooky music was scaring them away? No, that wasn’t it. Everyone loves organ music on Halloween.

I rocked back and forth. I looked at my watch and fretted. Where had I gone wrong? Why wasn’t anyone coming? An hour passed, and then another. Finally, some of trick-or-treaters walked up my driveway.

“Hey, Mom,” said my daughter, holding up her pillowcase of loot. “We’re home.”

“How many trick-or-treaters?” My husband asked. “The streets are packed.”

My son looked at the full bowl of goodies. “I’ll take that as a ‘no,’” he said, before giving me a hug. “Good job for trying. You went all out.”

“Stupid cul-de-sac,” I mumbled. I unplugged the Crock-Pot and ripped open a Snickers.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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