The kid was just slightly more than 5 feet tall, but when I climbed upon his shoulders, together we had to be close to 11 feet. That’s monstrous! Certainly the sight of an 11-foot tall snarling teenager had to be creative enough to coax an old lady out of a Zagnut or at least one of those tiny boxes of junior mints. 

But nope. The old battle-ax wouldn’t part with so much as a tiny chunk of a denture tablet before she sent us packing.

“Yaw too dang old for trick-or-treat!” the woman bawled, in a gore crow voice so chilling, night owls dropped dead from trees.

What can I say? We were teenagers and we really wanted candy. We just didn’t want it enough to put any real effort into it.

There comes a point in every kid’s life where Halloween just doesn’t mean what it used to. You still sense that it’s a special night and it feels like you should be celebrating, but come on. You’re 15 years old, you’ve discovered the joys of the opposite sex and a whole new world is opening up to you. What are you going to do, go out and spend all your paper-route money on a flimsy vampire costume and drool around those plastic fangs all night? Thothe thingth thuck.

Many people will rediscover Halloween years later as adults, but for most, the teens are the lost years of Halloween.

The problem is that most adolescents don’t recognize this existential quandary, so come Oct. 31, there they are: lumpy, surly, growing hair in weird places and still going out to beg Smarties and mini-Snickers from strangers.

Because I’m masquerading as a highly-trained professional journalist for Halloween this year, I figured I’d consult the world’s top experts in matters of ancient holiday customs such as trick-or-treating.

And by “top experts” I mean a handful of reasonably sober people on Facebook. I knocked on their metaphorical doors and asked them a simple question: How old is too old for trick-or-treat?

• “When you start to grow facial hair,” said Kelly Briggs.

So according to the Briggs Rule, boys have to quit the candy at 14 or 15 while girls can go on trick-or-treating forever. Seems fair.

• “I hate Halloween,” said C.J. Tolini. “It’s legalized extortion. My opinion. At age 13, stay home.”

I foresee eggs and toilet paper in C.J’s future.

• “Never too old,” said Heather Payson, who, for no apparent reason, strikes me as somebody who really enjoys a Charleston Chew.

• “Too old is when the neighbors won’t give you candy,” said Michael R. Edgecomb. “But you can always go out dressed up.”

Now there’s an idea. If they won’t give you candy, just get all dressed up scary and stand outside their window. They’ll fork over those homemade popcorn balls eventually.

• Greg Barker offers: “Dress as a dummy and sit out on your porch. When trick-or-treaters come to the door, sit up and yell BOOOOOO! They’ll drop their candy and run like hell. Then you got all their loot, problem solved.”

That’s cold, man. I like it.

• Gail Shelley said, “I had ‘kids’ here last year that were old enough to have a beer. Fourteen is the cut-off, I think.”

• Jessica Gauthier said, “If you take time time to get and put on a costume and you ring my doorbell, you get candy! Being an adult can be stressful, have fun and go out!”

To be clear, does this only apply to Halloween or can I come over in, say, June and hit you up for some grub?

• “I wouldn’t do it personally, but I just don’t see why there has to be an age where it stops,” said Laurie Ann Charest. “In my opinion, adults don’t play and act like kids enough.”

Interesting. Laurie strikes me as one of those weirdos who favors Three Musketeers bars over Snickers. Those people need help.

• “I’d rather have a 16- or 17-year-old ringing my doorbell trick-or-treating,” said Elizabeth Ann Cogley, “than see a 16- or 17-year-old getting wasted under the bridge.”

• Mitchell Clyde Thomas opines that one should stop trick-or-treating at age 11. I call bull here, because I’m pretty sure Mitchell Clyde Thomas rang my bell last Halloween dressed as Colonel Sanders. And he’s, like, 100!

• “Not that I would do it,” said Sally Townsend Theriault, “but I feel you’re never too old. Parents who dress up with their kids are awesome and deserve a bit of candy. I would rather have older kids trick-or-treating than causing bedlam and mayhem.”

She makes bedlam and mayhem sound like bad things. What’s up with that?

• Former Journalist of the Year Lindsay Tice said the cut-off age should be 62. Which I frankly don’t get because if a fellow makes it to the age of retirement in this tough old world, I think he deserves a Blow Pop.

• Jeanne Marie offered: “Never too old. If you’re in costume, you get candy.”

• Charles Goodwin said: “We get adults every year, bringing children, grandchildren. Fun to see the adults having fun with the kids. We always insist they have candy, whether in costume or not. Happy Halloween!”

As soon as I have Goodwin’s address, I’ll pass it along, because I’m pretty sure this dude has the best candy in the city.

• Jacqueline Violette said, “Anything that gets kids, young adults and adults out in the fresh air having fun is OK with me! They’ll get candy. Better than being glued to their phones!”

Although, if one were literally glued to his phone, that would make for a pretty unique costume, am I right?

Incidentally, the very last year I went trick-or-treating myself, I pulled on a cheap rubber mask from Kmart and went out with a gang of friends to pillage. I used an old pillow case to collect the loot, but no matter how many long hours we were out there working the neighborhoods, that bag never seemed to fill with candy.

Turns out my best friend Randy had secretly cut a small corner of my pillow case and then stuffed whatever spilled out of my bag into his. I think he later sold the goods and used the cash to buy himself some beer.

It was cruel. It was genius.

It was a sure sign that our age of innocence was over.

Still like those Zots, though.


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