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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Taking "trick-or-treating" to the next level (or rather just a different level), a new phenomenon has been on the rise, called "trunk-or-treating". You may have heard something about it in the human interest section of the news, or maybe have even participated in it. The question mostly being asked is, "What do you think about trunk-or-treating?" Frankly, I'm torn.

It's a good idea, in theory, but like all things that are good in theory, I'm not willing to trust it further than I can throw it. And since it's virtually impossible to throw an abstract concept, I obviously don't trust it very much.

In "trick-or-treating", children go from door to door in their neighborhood, knocking on the doors and positing the choice of dishing out treats or possibly getting tricked. The homeowner, usually preferring not to be tricked later in the night, doles out candy bars that are admittedly NOT a "fun size" - and the process continues down the street. In fact, it usually continues until someone passes out (from sleep deprivation or diabetic shock) or the haul is too large to physically move and the children must be picked up - preferably with some kind of crane or forklift.

In "trunk-or-treating", the rules change. Instead of lying in wait at the door of their homes, the candy offerings are poured into the trunk of the car and all of the cars meet in one spot for the neighborhood. Then children come to this parking lot candy buffet and visit all of the trunks. That's it.

Again, I am completely torn on this issue. The side of me that loves the idea is the child inside of me, who is currently cackling at the prospect of a "parking lot candy buffet". The side of me that is most against it is the adult inside of me, who is among the population deemed "too old" to be wandering about town in a disguise in attempts to not have to pay for candy, but rather has to pay for candy that will be doled out to your snot-nosed offspring. For him, the notion of making it EASIER for children to find my candy and eat it is one that I am not on board with at all.

Cue the "in my day" speech, possibly involving walking five miles uphill (both ways) just for one of those horrible white baggies of doorstop-kin marshmallows that tasted as bad as every other sense warned you about them.

Now that the demons in me have subsided, I will admit that it's not TOTALLY a horrible idea. I can see that for rural towns, where visiting four houses might actually entail walking five miles, a chance for everyone to get together in one place and have a celebration for the holiday and have the chance to have your kids actually get some candy - that sounds like an acceptable idea. But again, good in theory rarely means it's good in practice.

My concern is that most times you hear about these trunk-or-treat parties/events, they're taking place at CHURCHES. Not only that, but in the same sentence you'll often hear SOMETHING religious or with a religious theme, or even just the words "Veggie Tales". My concern is that the church is trying to steal away this holiday! To the religious, anything that promotes the slightest bit of happiness in relation to anything non-Jesus (be it a witch, zombie, or Thomas the Tank Engine) is something that must be stopped or captured and then brainwashed into oblivion. Mixing churches with Hallowe'en is like trying to have your bachelor's party at your grandmother's house - with her in it.

My other concern is the creepy tone set by the words themselves. With "trick-or-treat", you know what the two options are. "Give me a treat, or I will commit some kind of trick on you." With this new "trunk-or-treat" concept, what's at stake? Are they going to lock children in a trunk when they run out of candy? Just from a language standpoint, it's confusing and admittedly creepy-sounding.

Also, what are childless male adults supposed to do? We already get enough guff from society as a whole if we even take the slightest interest in anything related to children. Something tells me that if parents knew beforehand which houses on a block were inhabited by single male adults without children, they would specifically wanr their children to avoid those houses. Nevermind the fact that the intentions of my ilk are just to hand out candy to children - we're already seen as "predators" and "sociopaths" and "red flags" to parents. Something tells me that an adult male with no children, like myself, would get the crap beat out of him for showing up in a parking lot with a trunkload of candy - even if everything took place in plain sight of the parents.

What it all boils down to is that I'm really not all that into the trunk-or-treating concept. I think it's dangerous to the holiday itself, in spirit and in tradition. Would I recommend it to rural areas? Sure. Nothing makes the night easier for parents and children alike than meeting up, getting it all over with and doing minimal walking. Would I recommend it to children? Sure. Nothing beats a 500-foot walk in a parking lot to secure a huge sugar haul instead of the 5-mile-uphill-in-the-snow-both-ways walks of my day. Would I recommend it to true fans of Hallowe'en, who know the history of the day itself (including why I always spell it with an apostrophe) and live to decorate and spook and share the true experiences of this delightfully-devilish nighttime adventure? Not a chance.

And in return for an offering of Boo Berry, I'd gladly share some of my tales...

(The trunk-or-treating "ritual")

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