Dear Annie: It's that time of year again when the tacky cobweb decorations are up and overpriced bags of "fun-size" candy flood every grocery aisle's end cap. As I prepare for this Halloween, I'm wondering what your opinion is on something that's been bugging me for years now.
My neighborhood civic league has rules regarding trick-or-treating. It's to occur between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m., and only children 13 or younger may participate.
Of course, every year, there are a handful of teenagers, probably 15 or 16 years old, who show up on our doorstep expecting candy. I tell them sorry; they're too old to be trick-or-treating. I didn't make up the rules — but I do agree that trick-or-treating should be left to the little ones.
Also every year, there are the stragglers who come ringing the doorbell at 8:15, after I've shut off the lights and put away the candy, and I refuse to answer.
Apparently, some neighbors think I'm ornery. I'm just following the rules. I don't want to have to buy extra candy so I can hand it out to every high schooler who decides he wants some Snickers. And I don't think they should be ringing my doorbell after 8 o'clock, either. It's rude. What do you think? — Halloweary
Dear Halloweary: As for the 8 o'clock cutoff time, you're entitled to shut things down promptly (provided you don't slam your door in any sad little Spider-Man's face). It's better to encourage an early curfew on Halloween night anyway, because it can be dangerous to have kids in the middle of the street after dark.
When it comes to the issue of trick-or-treating teenagers, that all depends on their effort level. If they aren't even dressed in costumes and simply show up on your doorstep looking for a handout, set them straight. The same goes for ones wearing sarcastically halfhearted costumes, such as just a sheet over one's head.
But if these kids are trick-or-treating in earnest — wearing costumes they put real effort into — then loosen up and give them some candy. Embrace the fun, playful spirit of this holiday, and let these children be children a little while longer.
Dear Annie: "Playing games" isn't my thing. Women need to be more straightforward. I'm tired of being led on or given the "hard to get" routine. Recently, I went out with a woman, "Stephanie," who works at a restaurant that's in the same shopping center as the retail place where I work. We always chatted when we saw each other in the parking lot and were what you might call "simpatico."
We got happy-hour drinks at a bar across the street recently, and she seemed into me. We got on really well, and I was cracking her up. We ended the night with a hug. The next night, I texted her, asking whether she wanted to go out to dinner sometime. After an hour of no response, I sent a follow-up text. She texted back and said she would love to get dinner sometime but specified that she only wanted to be friends and didn't want to give me the wrong idea. Ugh. I told her thanks but that I didn't need her pity friendship.
My question to you is: Why did she go out for drinks in the first place? Why didn't she just turn me down from the get-go? And I'd also like to point out that she had no problem letting me pay for our drinks at the bar. — Too Nice
Dear Nice: This woman is not in your debt. She simply wasn't interested, and she did you the courtesy of letting you know that quickly, which is pretty rare these days. And you returned her kindness by spurning her friendship? Yeah, real nice.
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