My Nightmare With Teenage Trick-or-Treaters

Halloween costumesTrick-or-treating isn't what it used to be. Last night we took our boys, ages 8 and 5, to a neighborhood street that was, in a word, awesome. Almost every house was decorated. They had mechanical zombies, video screens, a set from Pirates of the Caribbean, real chainsaws, and roped off areas with ample seating and candlelight should adults want to sit and enjoy a glass of wine. The candy was as good as you hoped it would be.

But then the crowd turned. There were hundreds of people -- think downtown sidewalk but with trick-or-treaters. It was a sea of costumed humanity, but as the night grew later (relatively, we're talking 7:30ish), the families were infiltrated by tons of teenagers. They wore as little clothing as the law would allow and moved in packs of five or more. They were loud, which would have been fine, except their loudness projected words not appropriate for streets packed with 5-year-old princesses and superheroes.

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It became a meat market of scantily-clad teens and the mob mentality set in quickly. Our kids, who were already on edge from the very creepy, sometimes too creepy, decor of the block, became terrified. Families with young children made for their cars as fast as possible.

We turned down a side street and the costumed teens blocked it. They were banging on our car and demanding candy. One yelled in my 8-year-old son's window and screamed "fuck you" as he pounded the glass. The only thing that saved that young man from being dragged by his mask to the police was the fact that our doors wouldn't open. My wife refused to stop the car.

In hindsight, she probably saved me from getting beaten to a pulp by 400 teenagers high on sugar, lust, and gore. Still, once our boys were home in bed, I considered going back and taking my chances.

We finally found our way out of the neighborhood. The night was crisp and the moon was bright. The 5-year-old was asleep with an open candy in his hand. The 8-year-old was looking out the window, and there may have been a tear in his eye.

"This is the worst Halloween ever," he said.

Don't get me wrong, I don't (or didn't) have a problem with the theory of teenagers trick-or-treating, but the practice, at least the hundreds that we saw last night, is a different story. There were, undoubtedly, many nice young kids in the mix, but individual thought and a good upbringing are soon lost among peers in the night. 

The argument I've heard is that trick-or-treating is keeping the teens from pursuing other, more questionable behavior. I think they pursued it just fine, and then they rubbed our faces in it. Our children's faces.

Teens, unless part of a family unit, should not be allowed to trick-or-treat en masse. Halloween is scary enough.

What do you think?


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