One of the saddest days of my childhood was the Halloween after I turned 12. Always excited about any holiday, I was anxiously putting on my costume (I was an army man), and getting ready to go out and score a stash of candy that would last me until Christmas. We went out around dusk (I had my younger brother and sister in tow), and started around the neighborhood, hit up a couple of houses, got to the end of the street, and knocked.
This old woman came to the door. “Trick-or-treat,” we chimed in adorable unison. The old woman looked at me (just me) in incredulous disgust, and said, sparing no rudeness, “I’m saving my candy for the younger kids,” and slammed the door.
I was 12, so maybe shouldn’t have been so sensitive, but this broke my heart. I half-heartedly tagged along to a couple more houses, but was pretty much done. The magic was gone. Halloween was over for me. Permanently!
Though I never trick-or-treated again, I still love holidays, including Halloween, and try to make them as magical and special for my kids as I can. And remembering how the joy of Halloween was prematurely ruined for me, I am sensitive to the plight of the teenage trick-or-treater. But last night I was the one that stayed home to pass out the candy. And I was not impressed.
We had a fairly good turnout, so that was good. Of the 80 or so “kids” that came, about half were over 10 years old, and half were under. Which is fine. Except for the fact that not one of the kids over 10 HAD ANY COSTUME OF ANY KIND. None at all!!! No fake mustaches, clown noses, face paint. NOTHING!!! I mean, freaking throw on a jersey and call yourself a sports fan, for the love! Do something! If you’ve got a costume, any costume, the hint of a costume, I don’t care if you are 10 or 110, you can have a fun-size Snickers. But if you don’t care enough to even pretend to dress up, I’m not sure you deserve my candy.
Still, I also remember being a teenager, and being cool is key. Maybe it’s not cool to wear a costume over a certain age, but the coolness of candy is ageless. I get that. But at the very least, you’ve got to act right. Which a lot of these thankless teenagers did not.
Throughout the night, my door was rattled two or three times by hordes of costumeless kids in their late teens (probably 16 to 18 or so) (side note: I also encountered several groups of 10-11-year-old girls in what I could best describe as “Little Slutty Barmaid” outfits (off the shoulder puffy white blouses, short, flared skirts with puffy orange frills underneath, knee-high black and orange-striped stockings) (I don’t approve of this either, but for different reasons, the subject for another post)). Not only did these “big kids” not have costumes, or younger kids with them, they didn’t say trick or treat or thank you. Which I thought was ill mannered of them.
At 9 p.m., the flow had slowed down, and my wife and I went upstairs to put down the younger two. The doorbell rang. My 6 year old, still in his ninja costume, and very much excited by the holiday cheer and sugar buzz running through his veins, ran to the door, candy bowl in hand. There were these three thug-looking men, each around 6 feet tall, and possibly in their early 20s from what I could later tell, no costumes (of course), holding huge, half-full sacks of loot. They plunged their greedy, non-costumed hands deep into the bowl, grabbing huge fistfuls of our remaining supply. At this point I was coming down the stairs, and the last of them was turning to scamper away, dropping half of his ill-gotten gains all over my porch. My wife decided she had had enough, and turned off our porch light. I decided that that exchange would have gone down very differently if I would have been the one to answer the door.
I don’t want to be a buzz-kill curmudgeon. I don’t want to be for anyone what that crotchety old bag was for me. But you need to at least put on a costume. You need to at least be polite. I don’t owe you this candy. And I’ll be handing it out next year, too. Non-compliance will be dealt with. Teenagers, you are on notice!