Whirled Peas

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Everett decided to go as a pea pod for his first Halloween.  He made two appearances at parties during the week beforehand and then put his costume on again to greet trick-or-treaters, at least until his bedtime at 7:30 (rules are rules, especially for parents who are trying to establish a sleep schedule, partly for their own sanity).  He enjoyed seeing everyone come and go, but seemed particularly fascinated with the toddlers who stopped by, and young children are our favorite trick-or-treaters as well.  Perhaps this is because of their obvious sense of wonder about the world, or because they are still in disbelief that by saying three magic words they can get free candy for as far as their legs can carry them.  Or the fun they seem to have by being someone else for a night.  I have a friend with a young son about two or three, and when his parents took him to pick out a costume he immediately latched onto a chicken outfit and would not let it go, despite strong encouragement from my friend to pick something else.  So he went as a chicken for Halloween.  Even more distressing for my friend was the fact that his son wanted to wear the chicken outfit for a long time afterward.  But who wouldn’t?  It sounds fun to try out different personas from time to time – I always wanted to be a train engineer when I was growing up, but eventually lost my interest in trains and am now seeing how I like being an engineer…

In contrast, the teenagers who stopped by our house were clearly interested in candy but perhaps less interested in some other parts of the tradition such as wearing a costume or saying trick or treat.  The first group of them came by about 6pm and did not seem to be dressed as anyone in particular.  Afterward I decided to start asking everyone who they were dressed as, and I established a more than generous rating system that dictated how much candy each would receive.  If you said “trick or treat” and had a costume then you got three pieces of candy; “trick or treat” with no costume or vice versa got two pieces; everyone else got one piece.  Really, the last group should have received none but I didn’t want to pick toilet paper out of the trees the following morning.  So when the next group of teenagers came by I asked each of them who they were dressed as:

Teenager 1 in some kind of red jersey: [blank look, no answer].

Teenager 2 in a black hoodie and a black curly wig: “I don’t know.”

Teenager 3 in a blazer and pants: “I was Obama, but my mask fell off.”

Congratulations, Teenager 3.  Amazingly, that answer was the best of the bunch, though 6:15 seems a bit early in the evening for a wardrobe malfunction.  I guess they rubbed me the wrong way by not participating the way I expected, and I feel like they should know better.  If small children behaved that way I would probably have said it was cute and forgotten about it.  But teenagers, you are not as cute as you used to be.  None of us are really – it’s an unfair and unfortunate fact of life.  Also, you have an additional burden because the general consensus is that you have some kind of temporary cognitive impairment due to your age.  Again, this is unfair.  The only reason this belief is so firmly entrenched is because your parents and grandparents remember the shenanigans they got into at your age.  Despite the unfairness of it all, I feel obliged to offer the following advice to teenage trick-or-treaters who are interested in making up for their lack or cuteness:

1. Say “trick or treat” when someone comes to the door.

2. Wear a costume when doing so.  Note that a Packers baseball cap by itself does not meet this requirement.

3. Be prepared to act out, or at the very least identify, who you are dressed as.

Following these recommendations would be a small step in sprucing up your image, and could spare everyone else from the curmudgeon that I fear I am slowly becoming.  Everett: please read this in 2021.

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