When the moon rises, and the dead crawl from their graves, and ghosts, goblins and ghouls wander the earth — on Halloween — residents of this, and most any college town, are presented with a dilemma:
What to do when the college students come trick-or-treating at your door.
I understand that, technically, the federal government does not have official guidelines on who can and cannot trick-or-treat. To me, however, the cutoff age is, oh, about 13. Kids can opt out sooner than that, and those who are slow to reach puberty can hang on until 14. Anything past that age is awkward. College kids, for example.
In my neighborhood, the college-age snack seekers outnumber the cute-but-greedy toddler types by at least a 2-to-1 margin.
To be fair, a little harmless trick-or-treating is probably preferable to hoards of students wandering the streets overturning cars and setting aflame children's imported Halloween costumes.
The Halloween visits from the really big kids, however, bother those of us who answer the door, for a couple of reasons.
Candy is expensive, and we've used our hard-earned money on these unhealthy treats so that we can see the joy on the faces of small helpless kids. That little — what was he, a troll? A toadstool? A flamingo? — can't ride down to the convenience store and buy himself a Twix bar. The college student can. He's essentially stealing candy money out of our pockets.
Also, frankly, we're old and a little bit frightened. When a full-sized trick-or-treater arrives, it's always in the back of our minds: "What if that machete is real? Is this a home invasion? If I just give them the priceless jewels hidden in the fake Spic 'n Span can on the third shelf of the upstairs bathroom, maybe they'll just go away."