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Within two hours of arriving in the District four months ago, my neighbor Bob had added me to the neighborhood listserv. Another delivered a fresh baguette, still warm, to the front door the next morning. It seemed that we’d landed in a community of kindred spirits.
Though the neighborhood is tucked inside the tony Northwest, people compost in their front yards and let their kids play outside in their pajamas until well into Saturday afternoon. Dirty faces of small people go utterly unnoticed. Residents rejoice that Mondavi cabernet is typically on sale at Rodman’s for $3.99.
When Halloween night rolled around, Bob was serving wine (probably Mondavi) on his front porch, and playing music to entertain the strolling parents with drinks in hand who were chaperoning their marauding trick-or-treaters. It was all pumpkin spice and smiles.
They had set out an honor bowl of candy on their front porch so they could take their daughter out trick-or-treating. So far so good, right?
But 1) they had trained a camera on the goodies. 2) They had reviewed the video when they returned home to discover the bowl empty. And finally 3) they posted video of the two kids responsible for the bonbon heist on the neighborhood listserv with an accompanying message of pompous indignation: “If you recognize the kids in this video link below, please let them know they are not welcomed on Garrison St. next year.” (The video was later removed.)
The foolhardy overreach was met with mixed response. As the Post reported, some replied with their own fustian objections to kids being kids while others made it clear that the family’s post was a gross overreaction and that all children would be welcome at their homes.
At one point in the evening, my husband returned with our boys for a break in the festivities and reported that tureens of treats were prevalent all over the neighborhood, presumably for the same reasons the offended family used theirs and perhaps because childless couples preferred not to pad from the couch to the door all evening.
“When I was a kid, they never would have lasted,” he said.
“Two things bug me about the story,” says one neighbor. “First, they posted videos of minor children online. Second, who really watches the video feed of a candy bowl? We left out our honor bowl and still had leftovers. Last year, the honor bowl was empty. Who cares? It’s Halloween and I hope the people who took candy enjoyed it. That’s really the most important part.”
All of which is to say that neighborhoods are like candy bowls. A turd that finds its way in can really wreck the party.