A group of kids stopped Susan in the street this afternoon, a little before the trick-or-treating started. "You're not going to make us do math again, are you?" one of them asked her. "Yes, I am," Susan replied. The other kids turned to stare at the first kid. "She doesn't actually make you do math, does she?" they demanded. Yes, she does! I grow the pumpkins and carve them; Susan makes the kids do the math. And they actually get excited about it, because they get extra candy if they do the math. Then they go running down the street screaming excitedly that they got the right answer, and other kids come running up the street screaming excitedly that they want to do the math problem too.
Susan says our oldest trick-or-treaters tonight were two who were about 60 years old and had no children with them. There were two of them, sort of together, although they didn't particularly talk to each other, and they approached the door in rapid succession but not quite simultaneously. The man approached first. He was dressed as a hobo, complete with a real grey mustache and chin stubble. "I need more than one piece of candy," he announced, "because I have more than one grandkid." Susan was too flabbergasted by his age to make him do the math problem. He took some candy and wandered off, muttering under his breath, "Yeah, the grandkids are home sick. They have fevers. They're really sick."
Then the woman approached. She had a bluish green sheet draped over one shoulder and pinned around herself like a toga, with a low-cut neckline exposing stretched and wrinkled tattoos across her chest and upper arms. She was carrying a chihuahua under one arm. Susan remained too flabbergasted by the age of these people to make her do the math problem, so the woman just helped herself to some candy and started walking away. Then she turned around and announced in an offended-sounding tone, "Hey, you didn't ask me about my costume. I'm the Statue of Liberty. Can you tell?" She had no crown or torch, just the chihuahua. Susan wondered whether the chihuahua was supposed to be the torch, but she decided not to ask.
We had fewer scary adults unable to solve the math problem this year than in previous years, so I guess basic algebra/pre-algebra is easier for most people than long division or adding fractions (which we used on our pumpkins in 2009 and 2010, respectively). Or maybe it was just that our two scariest adults this year were so scary that Susan didn't even ask them to do the math.