As another Halloween approaches, it's time to address a common question surrounding trick-or-treating:
"Does anyone really eat candy corn, or is it like a Christmas fruitcake that gets re-gifted each year?"
Actually, I don't have an answer for that. So let's move on to another
common question, which is being asked this week by a large crop of
potential trick-or-treaters who no longer fit into a Dora the Explorer
"Am I too old to trick-or-treat?"
Relax, spooky mooches. You can never be too old.
You just need to be a kid at heart, have the right Halloween spirit and find a costume that completely covers you as you crouch down
and say "trick or treat!" in a high voice. And, oh yeah, remember to
take off your wedding ring. That's a dead giveaway.
Honestly, I don't know when a person is too old to trick-or-treat. And I
would never turn away anyone willing to dress up and ring doorbells on
the annual night of permissible panhandling. Well, almost anyone. I don't want to be issuing a challenge.
But I'm open to all trick-or-treaters. Still, when I open the door to someone nearly as tall as I am, it does
feel a little awkward. And it seems like the teenage trick-or-treater
feels the same way. He stands there, holding a pillowcase open, trying
not to look me in the eye.
"Trick or treat," he says, with little enthusiasm. His voice cracks, a
sign of the puberty that's robbing him of his trick-or-treating
innocence. For Brady Bunch in-the-knows, imagine Peter saying "trick or
treat" in the episode where his voice changes and he nearly ruins the
Brady kids' surefire hit record. For those who have no idea what that
previous sentence meant, I promise the next one will be better.
So the teenage trick-or-treater is at my door. His costume?
A dark coat. That's pretty much it. And some stage blood thrown on his
face, which draws more attention to the wispy mustache that teenage boys
refuse to shave because it makes them feel older. Some teenage trick-or-treaters are more elaborate with their costumes,
but I always get the same feeling. The feeling that "trick or treat" is
more of a threat than a plea:
Look, sir, I know I'm like 15 years old and I'm not as cute as the Bob
the Builder or the adorable witch walking behind me. But what I lack in
cuteness I make up for in ability to accidentally trip over one of your
sprinkler heads and break it. Or snap some branches off your tree. Accidentally.
So I hand over a candy bar. I give him a few, actually, because they are
"fun size" -- the name for tiny, one-bite candy bars. (An inappropriate
name unless the regular bars are called mind-blowing euphoria size.)
The teenage trick-or-treater smiles weakly and says "thanks." Then he's
off to the next house, brushing past a Winnie the Pooh and a 3-foot
dinosaur that keeps tripping on its tail.
I can't remember if I was a teenage trick-or-treater. But I probably
was, especially considering how much I liked candy as a kid. I ate
chocolate until my stomach hurt and Pixy Stix until the dust came out of
my nose. I also once got sick after eating Dots, and I still feel nauseous whenever I see a box of them.
And I remember it was hard to give up trick-or-treating. There was no
more free candy, for one thing, but it was also like giving up a part of
my childhood. Admitting that I was no longer fun size.
Yes, it's tough being a teenager. You're in the most awkward stage of
your life, caught between childhood and adulthood, and you're not really
accepted in either category. And here comes Halloween, your chance to redirect some candy money toward a larger-size tube of extra-strength Clearasil.
It's a tough decision.
But teenagers, I'll have an open heart -- and door -- for you on Halloween night. Come on by, ring the doorbell, and I promise that I won't ask for an explanation of your costume.
Just mumble "trick or treat," hold out your pillowcase and you'll get the goods.
I have plenty of candy corn to go around.
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