Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Seven Stages of Halloween

To prepare for Halloween this year, I decided to put together a rough guide of how people's Halloweens are spent at different times in their lives:

Stage 1: Trick or Treating: Ages 3-13

The most innocent of the Halloween stages, the Trick or Treating stage is an opportunity to dress up like your favorite power ranger, animal, or scary character for a whole day, then come home to a family pumpkin carving festival. After that, kids in the Trick or Treating stage spend the night walking around the neighborhood getting candy from the neighbors. It is a simple is a better time.

Stage 2: Treating: Ages 14-15

Around age 14, the concept of dressing up becomes uncool for a few years, but the desire for candy remains high, launching most kids into a quasi trick or treating mode that I refer to simply as Treating. Walking around in a group wearing hoodies and carrying old pillowcases, children in the Treating stage lurch around the neighborhood, looking for houses foolish and lazy enough to leave a bowl full of candy outside. They quickly herd up the steps of these houses and plunder the entire bowl, dividing the spoils among their pillowcases. They then scurry back into the darkness like frightened rats, laughing at their trivial conquest.

Stage 3: Egging: Ages 16-17

With a lust for destruction developing within most teenagers in this stage, they turn to the age-old practice of egging various buildings in the area on Halloween night. Wandering the neighborhood, the Eggers launch the protein-rich ovals of doom at the windows of mean teachers, kids they hate, and others who have wronged them in their pasts. Some flocks of Eggers add the element of toilet paper into the mix, turning trees outside the victims' homes into ghastly displays of irreverence and teenage rebellion. Eggers may even hit a bowl on the way home for old time's sake, and might steal some candy as well.

Stage 4: Costume Parties: Ages 18-25

At last, dressing up in costumes becomes fun again! And just in time for the Costume Parties stage, an eight year stretch of glory, alcohol, and fun. The parties are packed, lively, and provide the perfect excuse not to wear normal clothes. Beer is consumed in mass quantities, and the rowdy atmosphere leads to an average of 1.3 injuries for every 10 people present, the highest injury-to-person ratio of all the Halloween stages. The innocence of youth fades as alcohol is slowly discovered and embraced, but it can be argued that the Costume Parties stage is the greatest of them all.

Stage 5: Lame Parties: Ages 26-35

Around age 26, most notice themselves losing the will to get smashed anymore, and notice their friends mellowing out as well. The raucous parties of the late teenage years and early twenties fade into tame gatherings of a few friends, and in the later parts of the Lame Parties stage, their families. Costumes are no longer worn, and this stage marks the end of the dressing up era. Most get married in the Lame Parties stage, and some have kids of there own who will be entering the Halloween circle of life in just a few short years. People in this stage have to begin to buy candy, but they make the effort to answer the door and compliment the kids on their costumes, thinking about how they will be sending one of their own children before they know it.

Stage 6: Parenting: Ages 36-55

Within the parenting stage, you are now responsible for getting your kids dressed up and taking them around the neighborhood as they enter the Trick or Treating stage. A remarkable view into the Halloween circle of life, some parents have nostalgic experiences on the Halloween trek, chuckling a bit to themselves when they see a bowl full of candy and their kids only take one piece. Good work parents, you've raised them well.

Stage 7: Being Old: Ages 55-death

The grimmest of the Halloween stages, Being Old necessitates the dwindling love of the great holiday of Halloween. The kids are off at college or have their own jobs now, and kids are seemingly more and more of a bother as a person in this stage becomes more advanced in their years. No longer do they make the effort to come to the door and see the kids in their costumes, as getting of the couch and tearing themselves away from reruns of "I Love Lucy" has become quite a chore. Having forgotten the Halloweens of their youth, those in the Being Old stage often leave out bowls of candy for the neighborhood kids, making sure to write a note to only take one piece, assuring themselves that the instructions will be followed.

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