Friday, November 2, 2012

Hollow-een: How old is too old for trick-or-treating?

I think our boys are officially too old for Trick-or-Treat. It's a sad day, me realizing this. Kind of a hollow feeling (Hollow-een. Get it?) But I can't deny the evidence this year:

1) None of them were very excited or interested in costumes. In fact, only at my prompting did two of the three pick out minimal items at a Halloween superstore two days before Halloween. The Redhead chose an Indiana Jones hat and whip. Thing 1 chose a mask from the movie "Scream" - which he has never seen, to my knowledge. Thing 2 grabbed a Groucho Marx pair of glasses (complete with eyebrows, mustache and nose) as we headed out the door Halloween night. He had no idea who Groucho Marx was.

Half-ass costumes. 

2) They chose pillowcases for their treat bags. I'm not kidding. Although they appear jaded about the whole costume thing, they anticipate gobs of candy.

3) They didn't want to go downtown to "Scare on the Square".  They said it was for little kids. Instead, they wanted to wait until it was dusk before venturing out.

This is all so different from previous years. They'd have started knocking on doors as soon as the school bus dropped them off at 3:30, if I would have allowed it.

I know it's partly because we moved from a very small town to a very large one two years ago. The small town had the best Trick or Treating one could hope for. Everyone went to one subdivision that was accessible by one road - this makes for very safe conditions on Halloween night:  one way in, one way out. Most people parked and everyone walked the five cul-de-sac streets that made up the neighborhood.  You didn't have to knock on doors - everyone sat on lawn chairs in their driveway. Adults and children dressed up. The owner of the local BBQ joint handed out chopped BBQ sandwiches and beer to the adults. It was basically a ginormous block party. Even the fire truck parked and the firemen (I told you! Something for everyone! wink, wink!) handed out the holy grail of Halloween candy:  full size candy bars. The boys didn't know how lucky they were until it was gone.

But they're also growing up. I know that happens.  In fact, a real nice woman pointed it out to them while they trick-or-treated this year.  She answered the knock on her door with this question, "Aren't you too old to be trick or treating?"

Thanks a lot, lady.

But The Redhead stood his ground.  As she put a minuscule hard candy in his pillow case (perhaps indicative of the size of her heart, no?), he replied, "I'm 13. Have a nice day!" and beat a hasty retreat.

None of them would knock on any more doors after that. If someone wasn't out on their porch, they just kept walking.

So of course the haul of candy they expected was not realized. Which predicatably resulted in endless comparisons about how much better Halloween was where we lived before.

And I couldn't argue with them. Hell, somebody was actually handing out these:

Please. These belong in oatmeal cookies.

Who hands out RAISINS on Halloween?  What's this world coming to?

So I know I've got to embrace this change.  They're too old to trick-or-treat. But they're just about the perfect age to enjoy getting the crap scared out of them. Luckily, I'm kind of an expert at that.

The weekend before Halloween, I took them on a haunted walking tour of our new town - the one that doesn't compare to the old one, remember? We heard tales of public hangings and hauntings in the park next to our house. We toured restaurants and antique shops and listened to the owners describe plates flying off walls and crashing to the ground and ghostly sightings. The boys were mesmerized.

 Don't they look scared?

Smoke bubbles. Simple pleasures...

Yes, Thing 1 is trying to get away. Yes, I have a tight grip.

We took a similar tour this summer in New Orleans. And while this one in our little historic district didn't quite rise to the level of ghostly tales in the French Quarter, it was still pretty scary.

When we returned home from the less-than-stellar trick or treating this year, we plopped down in front of the TV and watched the movie "Silver Bullet".

This is one of my favorite scary movies from my teenage years. Based on the Stephen King short story, it has a great evil werewolf who must be defeated by two kids and their uncle. The boys loved it. I also picked up "Salem's Lot" on VHS at Goodwill - but it was defective and wouldn't play in our machine. Another Stephen King story, it is a truly terrifying vampire flick. I was subjected to it much younger than the ages my three boys are now and I still have nightmares about it. Maybe it didn't work in our machine for a reason?

I think it's time to introduce them to the world of "Halloween", "The Fog", and "An American Werewolf in London".

These movies were what I lived for in my pre-teen and teenage years. I loved them.  Couldn't get enough. Would stay up watching them with my brothers and sisters, all of us scared silly and sleeping in each other's rooms for days afterwards.

I also own copies of these:

I've already made them watch "The Thing" because John Carpenter is a genius, of course. I'm holding off on "The Exorcist". This is the only movie that can still reduce me to a scared little girl who is afraid to sleep alone. Merely searching Google Images for "The Exorcist" was almost too much for me. Which is why I'm not posting a picture of Reagan here. Because I might wet myself.

I think it's a great idea to introduce my growing-up children to this other side of Halloween by fostering an appreciation for the art form that is the horror movie. I'm a good mom like that.

And to the bitter woman who answered the door and tried to crush my child's spirit on Halloween night:

You are a dumbass. 

And furthermore:

Don't answer the door next time. It's a shame YOUR MOTHER didn't teach you, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  Lucky for you, that's what I've taught my children.


  1. Ooh. Don't even get me started. All of my kids trick-or-treated this year (yes, even my senior). They always trick-or-treat in our the section that we live in. Rebecca (who is 15) got the "Aren't you too old for this?" from our grouchy old lady NEXT DOOR neighbor. I was incensed. Perhaps she would rather the teens sit home and shoot heroin, or tag her garage door, or vandalize her pumpkins. She gave them about 5 cents worth of candy. Was that really such a hardship? How about commenting on how cute she and her friends looked? Or how nice it was to see them again. SINCE THEY LIVE NEXT DOOR AND ALL. Apparently, in all her many years on this earth she hasn't learned that connecting with one's community is more important than aging out of trick-or-treating.

    1. Ah yes, you feel my pain. I am encouraged that yours all still trick-or-treat!

  2. Raisins. On Halloween? Travesty! I'm happy to see you are introducing your children to CLASSIC horror because the new stuff is crap. Also to add to your list, the original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead. We had several teenagers come to our door for candy. More power to them. The spirit of Halloween has no age limit.