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Now that I am a father, I tend to enjoy Halloween a great deal more than in the years following my mid-teens to the birth of my first child. This is attributable to my desire for my children to enjoy holidays as much as I did, and my hope to capture some of that magical feeling surrounding holidays that I savored during my own youth. And although I am able to achieve some measure of success at the latter, I find myself taking notice of some meaningless, yet slightly annoying practices going on during the Trick-or-Treat sessions of recent years. So, I am going to display my peevishness by specifying a few of the more galling offenses.

The Costumed Geek: My family and I live in a fairly insulated community of no more than 300 to 400 people. On most days, there is very little diversity in the types of people I come across. But when Trick-or-Treat night rolls around, that all changes. And, I have no problem with it. But there is one specific type of person that irks me a tad when I encounter them. This leads me to ask a rhetorical question.
What possesses someone in their late teens and at any time in their 20's to don a costume and beg for candy? How dull their sense of others perceptions of them must be. Or perhaps they feel some anonymity behind that mask or make-up (that, perplexingly, they spent time and effort to apply). However, it IS a bit hard to mask the fact that you are 6 feet tall.
I believe I have determined the average profile of this culprit, whom I will dub, "The Costumed Geek". This individual is currently either living at home with mom and dad, alone in an apartment, or together with other like-minded self-deprecation enthusiasts. This individual spends several hours a day parked in front of a television set either playing their one millionth multiplayer match on the latest Halo atrocity, or excoriating the virtues of The Phantom Menace while still watching it until the last credit scrolls, again, for the one millionth time. This individual has regularly attended any and all local events that involve "cosplay" or dressing up like furry animals, and still finds time to hold down a job at the local comic store (mostly due to the fact that the owner of the establishment overlooks the repeated late to work infractions because of respect for this person's vast knowledge of The Watchmen and his/her dungeon master skills). This individual's Facebook profile lists their relationship status as looking, and has for several years.
Is it much to ask for these select few folks to leave the candy collection to the little ones, and maybe stay home this year, living out Trick-or-Treat night vicariously through the latest X-Entertainment blog entry? I do not think so.

Mommy Dearest: I share the enthusiasm for watching my children enjoy participating in holiday events that only come around once a year, with millions of other elated parents across the nation.
There are, however, a number of those parents whose own participation I have particular aversion to. Most parents, like me, stand close by to savor the cuteness of my child in his/her dragon/princess costume uttering those words that cue my neighbor to cough up the sugar. But I occasionally encounter the mom with her 3 month old drowning in a sea of fur and wings that, when not collapsing in on itself, resembles a bee, as she takes it upon herself to perform the aforementioned ritual (or sometimes just holds out a pumpkin bucket in silence) in her child's stead. Does this mother really believe she is duping the rest of us? Does she expect her onlookers to dismiss her actions by coming to the conclusion that this 3 month old child is going to soon enjoy the fruits of mom's labor back home? Is the child still alive, buried under all those adornments?
I do not believe she would be quite as lenient if I were to take a place ahead of this woman with my border collie in tow, dressed in doggie vampire garb. Or what if I went about Trick-or-Treating with my 90 year old grandmother sporting her Elvis look as she sits quietly in her wheelchair? Should I expect this mother to be accepting of this? Once again, I do not think so.

Vending Machine Trick-or-Treating: Do you recall those days when you made your rounds on the candy circuit during Halloween? How often did you knock on the door of your neighbor's house, aware that candy was being doled out there by the presence of a brightly shining porch light? For me, it was nearly always. After the fact, I waited patiently for that heavy wooden door to swing open and reveal that gently held bowl of joy that, once the magic words were spoken, I was free to plunge my greedy fingers into.
Skip ahead to the year 2010. At some point, the ritual of Trick-or-Treating itself got lost in translation to this generation. So many of the folks dealing sugary delight these days have given in to apathy and simply plop a bowl down on a folding table outside their house, as whole lines of kids simply proceed forward, grab, and leave. No knocking on doors, no waiting, no reveal, no "Trick-or-Treat". This new procedure that I have given the epithet, "Vending Machine Trick-or-Treating" is simply the way it is done nowadays.
This having come to pass, I am inclined to wonder if this new form of Trick-or-Treating is simply one phase in a transition toward ultimate Halloween sloth. Just how far are we from "Drive-Thru" Trick-or-Treating? Or simply gathering as a neighborhood in a local civic center with rows of tables from which to collect your candy and be gone? I estimate we are not as far from these alternatives as we think.

Until next time Braniacs! -