Writing Out Loud: TRICK OR TREAT…GO TO JAIL

By George Stahl

Trick or treat. Smell my feet…now meet your roommate, Bubba. That could be the warning placed on Halloween costumes of the future. According to a new law in Chesapeake, Virginia, if any person over the age of 12 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as ‘trick or treat’ or any other activity of similar character, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of no more than $100 or by jail time not more than 6 months, or both. Enter Bubba, your nightmare.

If you are between the ages of 13 to 95 you might want to be sure that next year, if California follows suit with Virginia, you are accompanied by a preteen if you are walking the streets on Halloween night. The question then begging to be asked, “How is something like this enforced?”

“911, what is your emergency?”
“Ahh. Yeah. I have to report a 13-year-old who tried to get me to hand him a Milky Way Mini bar.”
“Is the suspect still with you, sir?”
“No, he fled on foot to the east of my house.”
“Can you describe him?”
“He was wearing an Indiana Jones costume.”
“Can you be a little more specific sir?”
“Sure. He had on a leather jacket, a fedora hat, carrying a whip, with khaki pants. You know, Indie!”
“What color was the fedora?”
“Brown!”
“No need to get upset sir. Please calm down.”
“Okay. Sorry. I was just taken off guard, is all.”
“Did he appear to be dressed as Indie in Raiders, or as the older version in Crystal Skull?”
“No, more like in Temple of Doom.”
“Was the suspect a he?”
“Yes. At least I think so. I can’t say for sure. I was a little frazzled as he reached out for the Milky Way and just stared at me. I really had a bad feeling about that.”
“I understand. Could you tell me if you may have recognized him? From the neighborhood, I mean.”
“Not sure. I have dim lighting on the porch, for a scary effect tonight, and the only other light is the candle in the Jack o’ Lantern. I can’t say for sure.”
“Okay sir. I will send an officer your way, it may be a little while though. We have been inundated with calls regarding over age candy-grabbers. At least 40 calls so far.”
“I had no idea it was such a problem. I have always said though, it is such a shame that I run out of candy because of the bigger kids taking the candy from the babies. I sure was glad to see this law come out.”
“Well, you just keep up the diligent candy giving out sir. We need more citizens as responsible as yourself.”

That story may never have an ending the caller could live with. He may go on for months, looking at every post 12-year-old as the Milky Way Indie who marred his Halloween. Then again, across town, there may have been an arrest and fine, and some jail time. Afterall, there couldn’t have been more than a half dozen kids dressed like Indiana Jones roaming the streets of Halloween. It’s not that popular a costume… anymore.

So, the legal cut off age for believing in the Great Pumpkin and the end to the fun of ‘trick or treating’ is 12 years old. What about the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Rudolph? At what age will those be against the law? How about that one that comes on February 14? Too old to believe in Valentine’s Day? Chocolate and champagne and flower dealers may have something to say about that. Not to mention wives and girlfriends!

So, if you choose to go out in costume and try grabbing a handful of Jujubes if California joins Virginia in the Halloween Trick or Treater law, save yourself, and the county some time and dress in an orange jump suit with an arrow pointing to side, with the saying ‘I’m with Bubba’ on it. Or if you are quick enough, you might put your order in now for that costume of a 12-year-old boy or girl.

They’ll probably be pretty popular next year if the law passes.

So far, California has not put a ban on age, but if you are ‘tricking or treating’ in Hollywood, don’t get caught with a can of Silly String, unless you can pay the fine that goes with it and can cough up $1,000! So far, though. There is no jail time associated with this law. It doesn’t say if that is $1,000 per can or per offense.

Unfortunately, these laws and fines and regulations are not urban legends like the guy with the hook, or the Boggy Man or witch who lives in the house on the corner (in some cases that last one may not be a legend either.) These laws are very real, and are even more frightening than an urban legend. Why? Well, because, silly…they are real.