Why Halloween Is a Nightmare on Elm Street for Introverts

Someone just asked me what we plan to do this evening for Halloween, and my knee-jerk reaction was “Turn off the porch lights, lock the door, and pretend we aren’t home.” I have nothing against Halloween, or kids, or giving away candy. When I was a kid, I didn’t take issue with getting free candy. I just rarely take part in the whole giving/taking free candy, and for one very good reason: I’m an introvert.

The Three Times I Remember Trick-or-Treating

Aside from a ridiculous blitz of my neighborhood as a senior in high school and a scavenger hunt in college, I stopped knocking on people’s doors for free candy at a pretty young age. What I do remember about Halloween went a little something like this:

Age 6

“Well, hello there! And what is your Halloween costume this year?”

“I’m a cat.”
“Are you now? Can you meow for me like a cat?”


Age 7

“Oooh, and what is this cute rock star doing at my door?”

“Trick or treat.” (Shakes bag of candy meaningfully and stares over shoulder at Mom.)

Age 8

“Well, this is a creative costume! Did you make it yourself?”


“And did Mommy and Daddy help?”


“I suppose you want some candy, huh?”


I’m sure I went along with my sister and little friends to houses around town after that, but the story was always the same. I didn’t want to show off or do twirls. I didn’t want to explain my costume, which should have been obvious, anyway. I just wanted to grab my candy and go.

The One Time I Remember Passing Out Candy

As an adult, I got excited about the first Halloween when I’d hand out candy. Surely this would be different, right? I bought piles of it, ready to pass out to kids in the neighborhood, excited to see all the costumes and watch their faces light up when I gave them the good stuff.

Darkness crept in, and I turned on the front porch light. I sat on the couch, waiting for the doorbell to ring. With each passing minute, my stomach squirmed more. I was excited! Or scared? Yeah, maybe scared.

Finally, someone knocked, and I jumped to my feet. When I pulled open the door, a huge group of kids stood with bags and buckets at the ready.

“Trick or treat!” they chorused.

“Hi!” I said.

“I’m a lion!”

“I’m a tiger!”

“I’m a bear!”

Oh, my. I had no idea what to say. Each kid took his turn explaining his costume. Parents huddled at the end of the sidewalk, watching the whole interaction with expectant faces.

“That’s…nice. Here’s your candy.”

I waved, shut the door, turned off the porch light, and spent the next two weeks eating candy.

And then a married a guy just like me. So, that’s why we’re not doing anything. We’ll turn on a scary movie, or maybe just a rerun of Criminal Minds. We’ll leave the door shut, the lights off, and shush the dog if someone dares to knock anyway.


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