Way Too Old to Trick-or-Treat? The Good Old Days are Gone

Courtesy of Mallory Yu

It was a clear, cool October night – perfect for the quintessential Halloween activity: trick-or-treating. I was with my friends, and we were dressed to the nines, having carefully constructed our costumes for weeks.

Unfortunately, we found ourselves with a gaggle of children; as responsible 20-year-old adults, we had been asked to take my friend’s cousins around the neighborhood.

Needless to say, we weren’t too thrilled about it but we accepted that maybe we had passed the sweet age when it was still acceptable for us to trick-or-treat. But we were old enough to be the adult supervision for the night.

When we hung back at the first house, however, the grandmotherly lady who answered the door beckoned us forward. “I love your costume,” she said, pouring a handful of candy in the small bag I’d brought with me. “What are you supposed to be?”

“I’m a 1930s gangster, ma’am,” I said, as solemnly as I could, playing up the part. “Thanks for the candy.” I touched the brim of my fedora and stood aside. My friends received similar compliments (and candy) for their realistic-looking head wounds and convincingly undead Little Red Riding Hood.

We were very excited. Maybe the night wouldn’t be a total loss; we weren’t getting paid to babysit but we could score some sweets.
As the night wore on, our bags became heavier and heavier, and we felt triumphant. Who said we were too old to trick-or-treat? One of the last houses on our route looked spectacular. The yard had turned into an eerie graveyard, complete with fog and spooky noises coming from the dark windows of the house.

We herded the kids through the maze of headstones, and they filed past the designated candy giver, who was with a group of adults lounging outside on bone-decorated chairs. My friend sang out “Trick-or-treat” as cheerfully as she could. One of the adults suddenly spoke out.“How old are you?” he asked gruffly, glaring at her with beady eyes.“Young enough?” she answered, hesitantly, startled by the antagonism in his voice.

“Well, I think that once you’re 30, you should stop trick-or-treating. Now get outta here.” He looked at me and grunted. “You too. You’re too old to be trick-or-treating.”Thirty?! Didn’t he know better than to guess at a woman’s age, lest he offend her (which he certainly had)? And why was he such an old grouch?

We were stunned; everyone else we’d met that night had been welcoming, exclaiming how great it was we were taking the kids out. There was nothing we could say, so we left quickly, our high spirits brought back to earth. It was like a slap in the face, a rude awakening from my delusions of still being a kid and all that. I had become, all at once, too old to trick-or-treat.

Now, it’s my turn to shepherd the little ones on their rounds and watch them carefully (and maybe a little enviously) as they receive handfuls of sugary delights.

I’m going to miss the thrill of putting on a costume, knowing there’s a whole bag of candy to be had. I’m going to miss eagerly running down driveways decked with spooky decorations. But, in a way, I’m not too sad about it. I am a senior in college now and I wonder which companies are hiring, instead of which neighbors give the best candy. I worry about writing well, not whether my costume looks cooler than the other neighborhood kids. Time marches on, and so should I.