Monday, October 30, 2017

How Old Is Too Old to Trick-or-Treat?

Image by Don Scarborough from Wikipedia

I participate in a local writing critique group, and this group caters to local writers of all ages. This is relevant because, at a recent group meeting, a young friend and fellow writer posed the question, “Do you guys think I’m too old to go trick-or-treating?”

“How old are you?” we wanted to know.

“Seventeen,” she replied.

“That’s pushing it,” we all agreed, but I nevertheless took the opportunity to encourage my young friend to go trick-or-treating anyway. “I’m a 35-year-old woman, and I’d go trick-or-treating if I could,” I admitted. Then I spent the rest of the meeting and many days since privately wondering if I shouldn’t just go for it. I mean, historically speaking, adults went souling, right? Maybe? How old is too old to trick-or-treat?

I posed the question to my Facebook friends, who took it very seriously and provided some lengthy, thoughtful responses. While at least two friends asserted that one is “never too old” to trick-or-treat, most seemed to take for granted that the cut-off point for trick-or-treating on one’s own behalf is sometime in the mid-to-late teens. My friend Dee Lishous replied, “My opinion is probably unpopular, but I don’t mind families who trick or treat together or dressed up high schoolers having fun.”

Well, sure, trick-or-treating en famille is one thing – you can’t very well let your kids wander the neighborhood alone in this day and age, and if you’re taking your kids trick-or-treating, why wouldn’t you dress up too? I mean, who passes up a chance to put on a funny costume and prance around looking ridiculous? Life’s too short, you know?

But, as it turns out, Ms. Lishous’s opinion was not unpopular at all – far from it. Most respondents said they’d rather have teens trick-or-treating than doing drugs, getting drunk, or having sex, and I almost don’t have the heart to point out that trick-or-treating only lasts for about an hour in most places, leaving costumed teens plenty of time to get drunk, take drugs, and have sex, not to mention smash your pumpkins and toilet-paper your trees.

Some respondents expressed frustration with adults and teens who trick-or-treat sans costumes, like Shanda Lear, who reported, “I did once have a grown man with no costume knock on the door. I gave him the candy, thinking that there must be a toddler following him…But I didn’t see any kids.” Another friend, Rick O’Shea, admitted to having been the creepy teenage boy who didn’t wear a costume, “only boxer shorts,” at age fifteen: “We were denied a few times but cabbaged some treats,” he said. So, a win?

While most respondents admitted to having trick-or-treated for the last time on their own behalves around age fifteen, one friend, Ginger Vitis, said, “I trick or treat when I remember it’s happening…I think the last time I remembered though, I was like 23. Once the sun goes down, it’s hard to know what day it is.” While that last bit was baffling (I’ve never forgotten what day it was because it got dark), if there is an upper limit to trick-or-treating, 23 is almost definitely beyond it. But other friends also admitted to adult trick-or-treating, including Lois Bidder, who said, “I went trick or treating with my roommate in college we were the wonder twins. Fun!”

Others, sadly, reported that theirs or their children’s final attempts to trick-or-treat were less than successful. Phillippa Bucket divulged, “I was shamed for trick or treating at 14. I had made a huge effort with my costume, too.” Oh no, Phillippa, sad face reaction. :(

It’s too bad she didn’t come across some of the more understanding friends like Shanda, who responded, “What kind of Halloween Grinch refuses to give candy to someone because they’re too old?” or Wendy Windblows, who said, “I’ll give candy to anyone in costume. I mean, we have no kids, and still do the yard up like crazy. It would be pretty hypocritical to put an age limit on who can enjoy it, right?”

Yes, yes it would.