In the catalog of practically meaningless phrases, “How are you?” and “Trick-or-treat?” are roughly equivalent. If you answer “How are you?” with anything other than “Fine” or “Good” you risk suffering the wrath of the person who asked the question.
And these days “Trick or Treat?” is similarly meaningless. When little ghouls and goblins come to our door on October 31 it’s understood that despite giving us an either/or option, they actually want the treat. This is partly because we’ve given the fun-hating, anti-Halloween crowd (or whackos as they might be appropriately deemed) the easy way out. Don’t want to hand out any treats? Fine, just leave your porch light off.
The trick is now completely off the Halloween table.
I think we need to put the trick back back onto the table though.
One of the most annoying things I see every year is the ridiculous number of teenagers, and sometimes even adults, who go trick-or-treating. I don’t know if there’s a specific age at which kids should be forced to give up the tradition, but I think it’s safe to say that if you can drive yourself from house to house then you shouldn’t go begging for candy.
Oh, and by the way, an old pair of sweat pants and a torn up T-shirt doesn’t count as a costume.
My wife and I both take our kids trick-or-treating every year, but we also arrange for someone to sit at the house and hand out candy.
(One year I counted on the children of my neighborhood to act in good faith and left a bowl of candy on the front porch with a sign that said “Take one.” We returned some time later to discover that not only had some jerk taken all the candy, but they took the snazzy cauldron holding the candy. Thieving jerks.)
We need to get back to making these kids work for their candy, especially the kids who are too old to be out there in the first place. Let’s take the older kids at their word.
“Hey there, young man. Don’t you think you’re a little too old to go trick-or-treating?”
“Of course you don’t. Well I think you’re too old. I mean if you can grow the beard for your pirate costume, then you’re too old.”
“Hey man, just give me some candy.”
“I choose trick.”
“What?” The kid/teen/adult would be dumbfounded. He’s probably been so mindlessly repeating the phrase that he never even stopped to think about it.
“You said ‘trick-or-treat.’ I choose trick. You’re too old to be begging for candy, and I’m not giving you any.”
Chances are the kid wouldn’t have anything to say. He’d be so shocked that someone stood up for the traditionalist interpretation of trick-or-treat that he’d probably cower away and get the hell out of there.
Although it could go the other way, too. Failure to negotiate with these candy terrorists probably only results in things too frightening to think about, but I’d bet that they involve some combination of toilet paper, tomatoes and eggs.
So that’s why I’m writing about this in my blog, instead of actually telling those overgrown candy fiends that the jig is up. Chances are you don’t know where I live, so you’re not going to come throw eggs at my house.
Instead I’ve come up with a genius solution. There have been years in the past where we’ve given out full size candy bars. (Yes, we really are that damn cool!) Maybe we’ll do that again this year, but we’ll have another bowl next to it. When someone knocks on the door we’ll answer it and give the little kids a full size bar and the older kids one of those “fun” size bars, or even better, a dime or a toothbrush or some other worst-house-on-the-block item.
We may end up with a situation where the too-old trick-or-treater breaks out the legendary trick-AND-treat, but I’m willing to take my chances. It’ll be my own silent objection to Halloween madness.
And if I catch any of those older kids trying to make good on the trick portion of the phrase, maybe I’ll remind them of the old urban legend about razor blades in Halloween candy!
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