If you give a skunk a candy bar

My son wants to be a skunk for Halloween. He’s been fascinated with skunks for the past several months. Skunks are cool because they can spray animals and people who attack them, scold them for being naughty, or tell them it is time for bed. Getting sprayed by a skunk is nasty business; the animals that attack skunks, and the people who send them to bed, should learn to cease such provocative behaviors.

skunk in the wild

Nobody dares try to make this bad boy go to bed when he’s not even tired. That alone makes him the coolest animal in the world. (Image: C.J. Henry/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The only creature that could possibly be cooler than a skunk would an animal that carries a BB gun, or maybe one that holds down its adversaries and farts on them. It’s hard to get the better of a skunk. To a four-year-old, constrained by household rules and vulnerable to attack from monsters and other predators, the feisty little polecat is naturally an admirable animal. Skunks take guff from nobody.

The boy has made it clear that he wants his skunk costume to have spraying capabilities. He has discussed this with his mother already. She has provided numerous suggestions about how this effect could be engineered. The only thing she couldn’t tell me was how the skunk costume itself was to be produced. She thought she might leave that one, inconsequential detail to me.

Further to the logistics of a successful trick-or-treat, the boy wants to know who is going to say “Trick-or-Treat” when the neighbors answer their doors on Halloween, because it will not be him. “I’ll ring the doorbell,” he conceded, “but I’m not saying Trick-or-Treat.”

Last year, he went trick-or-treating with his friend. His friend was eager to say “Trick-or-Treat” at every house. This relieved my son of the burden of having to do it, while teaching him a dubious lesson. Now he knows that the kid next to the kid who says “Trick-or-Treat” gets just as much candy without doing any of the work. This is unless you count ringing the bell as work, which it isn’t, because they argued at every house over who got the ring the bell.

batman standing under giant cat

Last year it was Batman who wouldn’t say “Trick or Treat.” People gave him candy anyway, probably out of gratitude for his commitment to keeping the citizens safe from crime. That skunk had better start building up the good will pretty quickly.

This Halloween, if you open your door to find a mute, 44-inch-tall skunk standing next to the kid who says “Trick-or-Treat,” there are some things you might consider. First, stand back. We’re not yet sure of the direction in which the costume will spray. Nor can we tell precisely what it will spray. Secondly, don’t insist that this child say “Trick-or-Treat.” He’s a strong-willed skunk with a hair-trigger sprayer. It’s probably best if you don’t even make eye contact.

If you want to teach that little skunk a lesson about being a trick-or-treat freeloader, locate the bespectacled, balding man who is waiting for the children at the curb. Toss the skunk’s candy to him, because he likes candy too. Then, leap back into your home and slam the door shut, before anybody has time to line you up in their spray sights. That will teach that little skunk.