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Adults who seem to be "working" Halloween.
June 1, 2008 9:42 PM   Subscribe

Why would it be that every Halloween here in Phoenix I get a bunch of adult Trick or Treaters who are have perfunctory costumes or, much more typically, no costume at all?

I'm not talking about the gruff teenagers with no costume and a plastic grocery bag who shamble up, grunt when you give them something, and then walk away. Also not fully decked out adults who are clearly out for a good time. Just all these cheerless seeming adults who don't even look you in the eye.

The last year* I kept close track included a fourty year old guy with a 2$ mask and street clothes who jogged up to the door and held out his hands, a woman in jeans and a tshirt with a baby sleeping on her shoulder who wanted candy for two different bags, and two separate uncostumed moms who held out their own bags after their group of kids got candy.

Is it just people who see an opportunity for free stuff and don't know/care about what's appropriate? Are people taking the candy and then selling it somewhere?

* FD: this is a repost of an old question, rewritten to hopefully eliminate what got it deleted before. Plus, hopefully someone might have an answer this time.
posted by TheManChild2000 to Human Relations (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know, but my Halloween tradition is: if you have a costume, you get candy, if you don't have a costume, you get a potato.
posted by aubilenon at 9:53 PM on June 1, 2008 [16 favorites]


My partner and I (27) always dress up. We're usually stopped by at least 2 or 3 groups who want pictures with us - last year we were Batman villains and really went to town. The year before that we went as matching ducks wearing yellow '40s hot pants, tights, yellow swim fins, beaks made out of funnels and rain coats.

I know I'm not the target demographic you're curious about - but for all the people who stop and tell us what awesome costumes we have, we usually get lectured (or rolled eyes or a refusal of candy) because we're out there at all.

Maybe some people's idea of "dressing up" dramatically differs, just as some people's idea of appropriate ages for trick or treating differs as well.

The moms don't seem that unusual to me, but the mom w. infant seems bizarre (I've seen plenty of parents with infants trick or treating but the kid is ALWAYS in costume and usually there's a gaggle of adults with infants) and I'd wonder if the 40 y/o guy in street clothes was either a) messing with you or b) developmentally disabled in some fundamental fashion.
posted by arnicae at 9:59 PM on June 1, 2008


It may be homeless or poverty-stricken people. Would you want to look someone in their eye if you were at the point where you had to do that--maybe in order to store some candy up for the off season, say your kid was asking for a candybar in November or December, and you just didn't have the xty cents to spend on the occasional Clark Bar? I'm sure I'd devise something in October, whether it be the $2 mask or be carrying the littlest one around so as to lend my deed some legitimacy in the candy-giver's eyes. Which I probably wouldn't want to look at.

But this is no answer, just speculation. IANALSW.
posted by not_on_display at 10:06 PM on June 1, 2008


Maybe they were collecting for children who were ill or had to go home early to sleep?
posted by lhall at 10:17 PM on June 1, 2008


Just a guess, as a former Arizona resident: Arizona has a really high number of meth users/meth labs, and meth users crave candy and other sweets.
posted by miniminimarket at 10:42 PM on June 1, 2008


Geez, I was called out for trick-or-treating when I was like, twelve. ("Aren't you a little old to be Trick or Treating??")

Time to retest the waters, methinks.
posted by telstar at 10:50 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The last year* I kept close track included a fourty year old guy with a 2$ mask and street clothes who jogged up to the door and held out his hands

I have no idea.

a woman in jeans and a tshirt with a baby sleeping on her shoulder who wanted candy for two different bags

2nding the notion that she had sick/tired children who she was trick-or-treating for.

and two separate uncostumed moms who held out their own bags after their group of kids got candy

They got tired of hearing their kids whine about how they should be getting collecting candy to give to their kids later on.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:51 PM on June 1, 2008


I vote for greedy and/or cheap people who just want free stuff. But maybe I've just lost faith in most of humanity.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:54 PM on June 1, 2008


I think the whole concept of trick-or-treating has got lost somewhere along the way - do they even say 'trick or treat' anymore? Or do they just knock on the door and hold out their bags? I'd slam the door in their greedy little faces, personally. I certainly wouldn't give sweets to adults on their own, particularly without costumes. Although to be perfectly honest, I wouldn't give candy to the faries and princesses either - thats not scary and therefore totally misses the point.

I'd guess its just a general degredation of the ritual/tradition starting with forgetting the 'scary' part of the costume requirement and 'trick' part of trick or treat, its not long before halloween is just free candy night.
posted by missmagenta at 11:38 PM on June 1, 2008


Tacky, tacky folks. I love aubilenon's idea of the potato for non-costumed trick or treaters. Preferably chucked at the back of their head as they leave your lawn!

At least they aren't asking for money, though. Halloween is growing in popularity here in the UK, despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media about creeping Americanisms. Each year we're getting more trick or treaters. I absolutely love Halloween, but over time, I'm growing to dread it. There's been a kind of blurring between Halloween and Mischief Night (4 Nov) here. Half of the kids are in costume, half aren't. The kids in costume ask for candy and money, the other ones just ask for money - and come round and round the neighbourhood, to the same houses, asking for more cash. This goes on until roughly 9PM. Traditionally, the kids would have spent the money making a guy (stuffed dummy) to burn on the bonfire on 5 Nov. Nowadays, I think it's just a nice little earner.

Last year, I just let my husband answer the door the second time round. He's can be a bit DCI Gene Hunt when he's annoyed, which could explain why they stopped bothering us after he came to the door. mwooaha
posted by Grrlscout at 11:43 PM on June 1, 2008


Maybe they were collecting for children who were ill or had to go home early to sleep?

and

2nding the notion that she had sick/tired children who she was trick-or-treating for.

Are bizarre notions. Filling a bag to the top with candy from strangers on Halloween isn't some sort of inalienable right. Kids who are young and/or tired and need to go to sleep early, should finish early and go home and sort the loot they collected. Yes, they'd have more candy if they were able to stay out later, but this is really not a relevant issues since the point of the holiday is to dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat, not end the night with a full bag of candy by any means necessary.

Same for sick kids. It sucks that they won't be able to put on that costume they are so excited about. It sucks they won't be able to show it off while trick-or-treating in the neighbor hood. It does not suck that come Nov. 1st, they won't have a full bag of candy since the experience is about the costumed trick-or-treating, not the accumulation of candy.

It is entirely bizarre and tacky that these mothers have decided that the best option is to wander the neighborhood collecting candy for their kids. Especially without mentioning why they are without costume or children.

poverty-stricken people. Would you want to look someone in their eye if you were at the point where you had to do that--maybe in order to store some candy up for the off season, say your kid was asking for a candybar in November or December, and you just didn't have the xty cents to spend on the occasional Clark Bar?

This doesn't seem like a likely story either. The most logical and responsible plan for a parent needing candy for the off season (?!?!?) would be to ration the candy the children collect that night, and save some for the coming months.

It is great to imagine these people holding out their bags for noble or tragic reasons, but I'd be completely shocked if that were the actual reason. I think these people just realized it was free candy night in the neighborhood and went for it, having no regard for halloween tradition, not to mention general decorum.
posted by necessitas at 1:17 AM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Grrrlscout, thats an interesting perspective - across the border in Lancashire, Halloween and trick or treating has been well established for at least 30 years (and where I grew up it was actually declining - the kids all grew up) but I've never heard of mischief night (my bf says he's never heard of it outside yorkshire either - a bit of googling reveals that it has many names but that micheif night=4th November is a yorkshire thing and most everyone else combines it with halloween)
posted by missmagenta at 2:18 AM on June 2, 2008


Once, when I worked for a college newspaper, I sent a very young looking writer out dressed as "a college student" to write about their trick or treating experiences. So maybe some of them are budding Nellie Blys.
posted by drezdn at 6:42 AM on June 2, 2008


Same for sick kids. It sucks that they won't be able to put on that costume they are so excited about. It sucks they won't be able to show it off while trick-or-treating in the neighbor hood. It does not suck that come Nov. 1st, they won't have a full bag of candy since the experience is about the costumed trick-or-treating, not the accumulation of candy.

Did you spring up fully formed as an adult? Because while I loved spending the night roaming around our town with my friends, I also loved getting a bag full of candy, and discussing what I got in my bag full of candy with my friends for the next few days, and trading the things I didn't like from my bag full of candy for the next few weeks. An adult's perspective on which part of the experiences a child should value doesn't necessarily correspond to the child's actual values. Being sick on Halloween would pretty much cut you out of recess and lunch hour conversations at school for the rest of the week unless you could come up with some candy of your own.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:37 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cheap greedy selfish people is what they are. Throw a raw egg in their bags.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:37 AM on June 2, 2008


It is great to imagine these people holding out their bags for noble or tragic reasons

But I'm not imagining anything. Every single year that I've passed out candy, I've gotten an uncostumed adult come to my door who told me they were collecting for a sick/tired kid.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:37 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


They're poor and they want free candy. It doesn't seem that complicated to me.
posted by footnote at 8:41 AM on June 2, 2008


Seconding Daddy-O. I hate it when people do this! Come ON! And not even wearing a costume? I live in a semi-questionable neighborhood, so out of fear of egging and retribution I do give these adults - and the grunting (talking on their cell phones, uncostumed, holding out shopping bags!) teenagers - candy. Sparse candy.

I would gladly give it to anyone, even an adult, who wore an enthusiastic costume. I remember it just broke my heart when I was 12, had a full-on-awesome costume I had made myself, and someone told me I was too old to get candy. That was the last year I went trick-or-treating, but I really hadn't thought about it before then. There's no excuse for the uncostumed, though.

I posted a sign the last couple of years that said "13 and under only, please." It seemed, surprisingly, to have worked ok. (Maybe next year I'll post a bigger sign saying "No Costume, No Candy." Heck, maybe I'll make lots and give them to my neighbors.)

I made fun of the adults that did show up and asked them to explain what they were doing there. Usually their shame-faced response was "I dunno, I just wanted some candy, man." To which I responded "And you couldn't just go out and buy your own?"

It's worth noting that I had a markedly smaller number of adult visitors last year.
posted by GardenGal at 8:48 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


They might have run out of treats to give out at their home, so you get the spouse who lost the coin toss. Or they could be collecting to give out treats the following year. I imagine some of the really bad candies have been in circulation for twenty years.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:17 AM on June 2, 2008


Guessing it's just people seeing an opportunity for free stuff. I'm also guessing that your original question was deleted because you dared to mention one or more demographic characteristics of the people that puzzled you, which this time you have studiously avoided.

This happens around here during both Halloween and Easter. (there's an egg hunt, which is basically just marshmallow candies strewn on the ground in a park). Certain folks seem to view both as opportunities to hoover up as much candy as possible into as large a container as possible, and they do it with a joyless, businesslike demeanor.

Of course, it's not helped by the escalation of handouts. My childhood, ya got a tootsie roll. A small tootsie roll. Now you're likely to get a full size candy bar, and at least one house in a nearby neighborhood has started handing out candy with DOLLAR BILLS taped to it.
posted by rhys at 9:26 AM on June 2, 2008


Weird. That doesn't happen in my neighborhood... I'm in Tempe. What part of the Valley are you in?
posted by ph00dz at 10:38 AM on June 2, 2008


I trick-or treated all through my 20s and still go at 30 if I can find someone to come with. Sure, I like getting candy but I guess I'm old school because it's more about the process of going around at night and showing off my costume and running into other trick-or-treaters (even if they're young enough to be my kid). I realize this is not normal and frowned upon by a lot of people.

Then again, I totally hand make my costume (sewing, paper mache headdress etc.) which usually takes more than a month. I get a few comments about being too old but most people are so impressed by my costume that they're excited to see me. I know not everyone has lots of time or money to make a costume but that's what Halloween's about in my mind. We usually get less than 10 trick-or-treaters a year and I do give anyone not in costume a hard time. I would say only 1 out of 10 have homemade costumes, which is really sad.

However, in your question I would have to weigh in with people just wanting free stuff and having a sense of entitlement. I think that if they're wearing a costume (not just a mask or something cheap and store bought) and enthusiastic they get candy with no judgment, no matter what age.
posted by Bunglegirl at 10:45 AM on June 2, 2008


missmagenta - why am I not surprised to hear you say Yorkshire has its own special way about things? ;) So Mischief Night is 31 Oct anywhere but here, when it's 4 November? And trick or treating and dressing up on Halloween has been the norm anyplace but Yorks? It isn't the norm in Northumbria/Durham - or at least around the Tyne and Wear - or in Cumbria. Is Halloween a Lancs thing in particular?

If so, I might have to convince my husband to move behind the Pennine Curtain so I can get my Halloween fix. Him a good Barnsley lad and all...

What the hell are all those idjits on TV and in the newspapers on about every year around Halloween and creeping Americanism, then? Mighty puzzling.
posted by Grrlscout at 10:54 AM on June 2, 2008


Did you spring up fully formed as an adult? Because while I loved spending the night roaming around our town with my friends, I also loved getting a bag full of candy, and discussing what I got in my bag full of candy with my friends for the next few days, and trading the things I didn't like from my bag full of candy for the next few weeks. An adult's perspective on which part of the experiences a child should value doesn't necessarily correspond to the child's actual values. Being sick on Halloween would pretty much cut you out of recess and lunch hour conversations at school for the rest of the week unless you could come up with some candy of your own.

No I didn't spring up as a fully formed adult. No matter what the reason is, it is tacky for parents to go out and get candy from the neighbors*. Especially without even explaining why there were at the door, with no children or costume, assuming they are just owed candy.

*If their child had to stay home due to illness, there is nothing wrong with going to some neighbors on their street who they know, or at least ones who would somewhat recognize them, explain the situation and get some candy for their kid. Some to trade is better than none.

Not like it matters, but if you think the kid will feel left out without any candy to trade, imagine how left out they'll feel when they have to tell their friends that they did, indeed, stay home, and their mother went around getting candy for them.

Every single year that I've passed out candy, I've gotten an uncostumed adult come to my door who told me they were collecting for a sick/tired kid.

There is nothing wrong with that. They are explaining the situation. They aren't just going from door to door acting like the world owes them a debt of candy.
posted by necessitas at 11:22 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sounds to me like everyone wants free stuff, though possibly with slightly different motivations.

FWIW, I don't see this at all, and I live in a urban neighborhood in South Philly. We get half-heartedly-costumed teenagers, but no adults.
posted by desuetude at 12:16 PM on June 2, 2008


(Disclaimer: I do not do this, but kinda wish I did. Halloween is really not big where I live.)

Honestly, once you get "too old" to trick-or-treat, Halloween is BORING, especially if there isn't a party to go to. Handing out the candy sucks. So shoot, if an adult or two showed up in costume, I'd go with it.

That said, the people who show up with no costume shoudl get laughed at.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:08 PM on June 2, 2008


@rhys; No, the original AskMe was deleted because it was just a rant with no clearly formed question. The folly of posting drunk, which I don't do any longer. Except for, well, right now.

@ph00dz; I'm in Ahwatukee.

@Bunglegirl; Please come to my house this year; I would love to get some adult trick or treaters with great costumes out having a good time. Hell, even half the actual kids I get are listless and dour.

All;
Sounds like there's no way to actually answer this question (hey, apparently I posted another chatfilter question, what a shock) and cure my curiosity.

The way I see it these adults are either poor, which is sad, or they are collecting candy for a kid that couldn't go out on their own, which is sad, or they are just lame, which is also kind of sad. It's no big deal for me to give sad trick or treaters a little candy.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 7:05 PM on June 2, 2008


What strange, strange world do you people live in? We get a few kids trick-or-treating, and the usual apathetic teenagers, but in 20 years we've never had an uncostumed adult unaccompanied by a child. We live in a neighborhood that does have homeless people and panhandlers, and while they've knocked on our door on numerous occasions, they never do it on Halloween.

And if a 40-year-old man in a $2 mask knocked on the door, we'd be much more likely to call the police than give him candy.
posted by mmoncur at 9:35 PM on June 2, 2008


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