By Lori Borgman
Knight Ridder Newspapers
When the spooks start ringing the doorbell this Halloween, the first thing I'll do is check for facial hair.
If you have two-days growth, a goatee or long sideburns, it's no Snickers for you. If you're old enough to shave, you're old enough to buy your own Twizzlers. As a matter of fact, you're old enough to buy me Twizzlers.
Trick-or-treaters have been getting progressively older each year. It used to be that trick-or-treaters walked from house to house; now they show up in cars, trucks and SUVs.
Last year, I knew things were out of control when a fellow dressed like Barney snarled, "Trick or treat!" I thought I smelled Ben-Gay. A little ballerina pulled on the dinosaur's purple tail and said, "C'mon Grandpa, we already hit this house."
At some point, Halloween has gone from being a sugar-high holiday for little kids to a candy raid for full-sized adults.
This year, I will be screening the ghouls on the doorstep and handing out candy selectively.
If you say, "Trick or treat, trick or treat, give me something good to eat," and your voice cracks, you will be passed over.
If your "candy bag" is a pink-and-white striped shopping bag from Victoria's Secret, or an Abercrombie and Fitch bag with half-naked surly teens pictured on it, I reserve the right to take candy from you.
If you are over 6 feet tall, you belong at the gym, not on my porch.
If the adult waiting for you in the shadows is not your mom or dad, but your probation officer, you can have all the candy you want.
If the little orange glow swinging by your side is not from your flashlight, but from your cigarette, I'm calling your mother.
If you are out after 10 o'clock and nobody at home is concerned, you are too old to trick or treat. Go home. My guess is something frightening waits for you there – say, an English assignment or some math problems.
And, please, don't even think about ringing the bell if you didn't bother with a costume. I'm not buying the line that the tattoo circling your upper arm and the silver study in your chin is a costume.
Disguising yourself as any one of the seven dwarfs, John Travolta from his "Saturday Night Fever" phase, or even Martha Stewart in a one-piece orange jump suit is acceptable. But going door to door in the same clothes you wore to school is not a bonafide costume.
And you twentysomethings need not come to the door with alcohol on your breath, telling me you're trick-or-treating as Senator Kennedy. I'm not buying that, either.
It's also a sure sign you're past your prime for trick-or-treating when you are jabbering into a cell phone, telling the party on the other end that when you're through with this block, you're going to stop by the ATM. Halloween was never intended for trick-or-treaters old enough to have checking accounts and plastic money cards with personal identification numbers.
Real trick-or-treaters wear their plastic on their face. They sweat under their masks, struggle to keep from tripping over their costumes and say "trick or treat" in squeaky mouselike voices.
Real trick-or-treaters are scared of their own shadows. They are worried about what's behind the bushes and terrified of you bigger monsters out there.
Of course, little kids aren't the only ones who get a little anxious on Halloween, which is why I'll leave the light on.
© 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.