The difference between 7:00 and 7:30 Halloween night is like night and day. Sub-7 is the time for dream princesses and fuzzy bears, Bob the Builders and Thomas trains and kitty cats with penciled whiskers and sweet little Pippi Longstockings. At 7:30, they let all the 12-14 year olds out, and one of two things happen: Either kids show up decked out in elaborate face paint and homemade costumes, or they come with no costume at all.
“And what are you supposed to be?,” I asked a costume-free 13. “I’m myself, man. Just myself.” As tempting as it is to let them have their thang, I don’t succumb to this most lame of all Halloween ploys. “Where’s the effort?,” I ask. “The what?” “The effort. It’s not a free ride. You got to put some of yourself into this thing. Why should I reward you for plain old door-to-door begging, which is what it is when you don’t throw some spirit into it?”
I’ve had this conversation five times already tonight. One kid just stood there, slack-jawed, holding out his gaping, overloaded pillowcase as if I were kidding. Told him to give it some thought, and shut the door.