Dear Little Old Lady,

On behalf of male trick or treaters everywhere over the age of eight, you are hereby asked to simply hand over the candy in a quick, time-sensitive fashion and let him get on to the next house. He does not wish to be interrogated as to the nature of his costume much less the reason he selected it. He does not wish to stand impatiently by as you go through each trick or treater on your porch guessing what they are then discussing it.

He did not tear through your neighbor’s yard rather than take the time-consuming option of running down the driveway to the road then running up your driveway to your porch so he could sit a spell and chat. He didn’t knock over lawn ornaments, rip through brush or trip over those stupid foot high fences that people erect for reasons no one can figure out unless it is to trip up a trick or treater who is racing through ill-lit and dangerous territory, just so he can listen to you ramble on about what Halloween was like when you were a his age.

First of all, you were never nine years old. Not to a nine year old, you weren’t. You are an old person. That is all you are and all you ever were. There is no ‘when I was your age’ to discuss.

Second of all, a nine-year-old trick or treater is not interested in history lessons. He wants – No! needs candy. Halloween is a volume business to a nine-year-old boy. The more houses he hits, the bigger his candy haul. Save your nostalgia for someone who cares.

What is worse than you interrogating him is you interrogating someone in front of him if that someone is fine with standing there forever and answering your questions.

“Now what are you,” you’ll say to a four-year-old girl standing in front of him. The little girl, like just about every four-year-old girl that has set foot on your porch that evening, is clearly a princess.

He knows it.

You know it.

The princess kind of knows it.

Just the same, the question is asked.

He must stand impatiently by, barely able to contain himself, as the four-year-old parrots the words that have been drilled into her head for days: “A princess.”

He hopes her answer moves things along, but it doesn’t.

“Now what kind of princess are you?” you ask.

A scream of despair starts in his throat and the throats of his friends, but he and they choke it back. There is candy at stake. He knows from last year’s visit you hand out handfuls of Hershey products. A largess like that can’t be ignored. He must stand and wait.

New to the whole ‘princess’ thing, the four-year-old has no idea how to answer your question. She looks to her mother.

“She’s Cinderella,” her mother says.

“Well isn’t she precious.” you say. “Does Cinderella want some candy?”

The little girl must be told to hold out her little orange basket made to look like a pumpkin.

Note: The experienced nine-year-old trick or treater never uses a little plastic pumpkin basket. They don’t hold enough candy. He also avoids paper or plastic bags. They bust open under heavy loads especially when hauled around at break neck speeds. The unwritten code of the nine-year-old trick or treater is: Break your bag and you are own your own. No one is going to help you. No one is going to wait around for you to scoop your candy up. The friend you once dragged unconscious out of a house fire will abandon you without a second thought, disappearing into the night. Your only hope is to run to a house, plead for a bag and hope to catch up with your crew. That’s why the trick or treater in the know uses a pillow case for his haul. If he plans his route correctly (and only an amateur would not plan a route) he will swing by his or one of his buddy’s home at several points in the evening to dump the current pillow case for a fresh one. We called it “re-loading.”

Finally, there is the satisfying sound of candy dropping into Cinderella’s bucket. The nine-year-old trick or treater thinks you are finally done with her. He thinks Cinderella will move off and it will be his turn.

“What do you say?” the mother prompts instead of taking mercy on him and just leaving.

“Thank you,” the little girl says.

Instead of sending her on her way, you begin praising her. Telling her what a polite little princess she is, even though you know and everyone else knows the little ingrate would have turned around and marched right off that porch without thanking you if her mother hadn’t said anything.

Behind her, the nine-year-old trick or treater is losing his mind. He can physically feel the night slipping away. Porch lights are switching off. Candy supplies are running out. “Sorry,” he hears someone say in his imaginings. “We are out of Snicker Bars. How about an apple?”

He shudders at the thought.

It reminds him of the time some do gooder couple handed out small tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes instead of candy. The retaliation from the older neighborhood kids was swift and merciless, as should it be. Eggs were thrown. Toilette paper was deployed. Rumor had it mail was stolen.

After roughly a century of waiting, it is finally the nine-year-old trick or treaters’ turn. You ask yet another one of the dreaded, time-wasting questions:

“Now are all of you together?”

It is a completely irrelevant question asked by old ladies at Halloween everywhere.

“Yes,” he says in unison with his friends.

He sticks to terse, but polite answers. Wouldn’t do to anger she who doles the candy.

“What are you,” she asks him. He wants to scream “I am a hobo! He is werewolf! He’s an alien! Please just give us our candy!” But he doesn’t. He answers your questions then stands stoically by as each of his buddies do the same.

Finally, after another century or two, it is over. If you are merciful, you will amply reward him for his wait. Then he is gone. Off again, into the night, dashing moth-like toward the next lighted porch.

My advice to you is to hand out candy like an old man hands out candy. He opens the door, drops candy in whatever receptacle is being thrust out in his direction and sends them off without comment or question. He knows better than to make a discussion of things and waste time. He was once a nine-year-old trick or treater himself. The night is short and there is candy to be had.