Groups of teenagers are scary. Are they making fun of your car? Probably. Do they think your pants look stupid. Likely. Is that short one with the weird haircut gonna egg your house to prove to the tall one in the jersey that he's "not scared of sh*t" and post it to TikTok, memeifying your reaction—fists in the air, rollers in hair, braless—for eternity? Honestly, it's possible! Teens assembled in groups are one of the most frightening forms of H. sapiens documented to date, and yet, on the ~*sPoOkIeSt*~ night of the year, I believe these mercurial goblins and ghouls deserve to roam free! And not merely roam free, but knock on doors and ring bells in search of All Hallows' Eve's yearly promise of saccharine treasure: candy.
Maybe you think of your local trick-or-treating teen posse as Sondheimian street prowlers ready for a rumble, white socks, tapered jeans and all. Or maybe it's more of a '70s-era crew of bat-wielding adolescents in suede vests and bell-bottoms hopping turnstyles and flipping the bird. (Clutches pearls!) Or, perhaps your anxiety takes you to a straight-up Purge-style nightmare, where one night a year, you put a free-for-all bowl of Whoppers, Smarties and Almond Joys on the porch while you lock yourself in the bathroom and obsessively check the Ring footage.
While there may be outliers here or there (when are there not!?), if a flock of children ages 13 to 17 have congregated to roam the streets in search of a sugar high, can we not oblige? Because let's think of the alternatives: the hormonally confused boarded up inside all night scouring the dark web? The sexually active (or wannabe active) kids chugging Mike's Hards in Crank Turner's stepdad's basement while Crank Turner's stepdad is most certainly bowling and definitely not home? The overachiever working on their college essay on a gorgeous fall evening? (Scary!)
“But the teen trick-or-treaters take away from the little kids!” Oh, please! The little ones shouldn't eat that much candy anyway and are in bed before the big kids really get going.
“Oh, but the teens scare my little ones!” ‘Tis that not the point of Halloween?!
“But the teens aren't even in COSTUME!” Isn't a teenager, I counter, always in costume? As chairman of all things spooky, Edgar Allen Poe, wrote: “Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.” A teenager may talk as if they're an adult or even appear adult-like, but do not trust this—they are wearing masks as they navigate the haunting turning of the leaves that is childhood to adulthood. So yes, the teens ringing your doorbell looking to fill their pillowcase with candy are indeed in costume. But bumblebees and Barbie they are not. These costumes are far spookier.
“But the teens ransacked my free-for-all bowl and then TP'd my house!” I won't say it's right, but if you did, in fact, place a bowl of Whoppers, Smarties and Almond Joys unattended on your porch, it's almost as if you stuck the proverbial "Kick Me" sign on your own home. Widely considered the worst candies amongst tastebuds near and far, what were you thinking? Maybe you should be teased into coming correct next year with some Reeses or Snickers. Maybe you are the problem with Halloween and teens are simply doing their civic duty, course correcting the adults. And if you're so adamant that teens should find something else to do besides trick or treat on Halloween, then maybe you should close up shop entirely! Why entice an entire generation with free candy only to shame them for showing up? We are constantly telling teens they're wrong, and on the one night we literally rain candy from the sky, we tell them to grow up.
No, not on my lawn. Even the kid with the weird haircut who's ready to egg my house is welcome to take as much candy as he wants—stuff that pillowcase to the brim, I say! Tear open those Skittles when Harper McRay says she's already going with someone else to Homecoming. Throw back a box of Nerds when you don't make the cast list. Rip off that wax bottle candy top when you find out your best friend wasn't busy with a family thing—she just went to Crank Turner's stepdad's basement without you. Rest your head on this pillow fluffed by high-fructose corn syrup as your parents slam the door and say it's over, over.
Candy can taste and feel so juvenile, and sometimes, that's exactly where we need to let the teens be.