For someone who loves Halloween, it's strange to admit this, but I don't have a lot of vivid childhood memories about trick-or-treating.
I remember that I went. I remember what I went as at least a handful of years -- football player (twice, against my will both times), ghost, Superman, pirate, vampire.
I remember an old couple who lived up the street who gave out popcorn balls rather than packaged candy. Stopping at their house was a must.
And that's pretty much it. I don't recall going with friends or exactly what route we took around town. I guess Halloween when I was a kid was happy, if not particularly notable.
What I can remember in way more detail is Halloween during my junior high and high school years. My parents were members of the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce, which at that time put on a pretty excellent haunted house for a small town. At about age 12, I began joining the fun.
Details from those years are much more vivid.
My first year was as a vampire in a coffin with a large blood stain on my chest, as a friend of my parents' "stabbed" me with a stake.
I spent at least two years in the electric chair, complete with an orange jumpsuit from the Warren County Jail. If the people passing by weren't sufficiently scared by my screams as the electric chair "engaged" and a strobe light started flashing, I'd get up and grab the bars in front of me to get them moving on their way.
My last two years we invited some of my friends to take part, as we were a group of zombies, feasting on (and fighting over) body parts. I can still hear my buddy Nern screaming "Sweet meat!" every time someone when through our room.
I suppose all of this is to say that my parents had a pretty easy exit strategy for me to stop trick-or-treating. Once I got to the age where it was borderline whether I should be parading around town soliciting for candy, they found another outlet for me to still have fun dressing up for Halloween.
And I could do it all without stealing the trick-or-treating thunder of seven-year-olds.
This crosses my mind every year when I'm opening the door to hundreds of kids on Halloween. Most of them are cute kids I'm happy to give handfuls of candy.
But then I get rude-looking 15-year-olds, many of them not even bothering to dress in anything more than a hoodie.
My first instinct is to tell them to get off my porch, but I always think better of it. What good does it do me to get in an argument with a teenager? Is that going to get my house or car vandalized?
So I just give them their candy and let them get on their way.
I guess if you're a teenager who's willing to lower yourself to parading around with seven-year-olds on Halloween, then you need those Tootsie Rolls a lot more than I do.