Illustrations by Amanda Lanzone

​Halloween Pranks for Grownup Millennials

Here are 13 super fun Halloween pranks millennial grownups can try, most of which—like so many horrifying things—are basically legal!

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Oct 31 2016, 1:49pm

Illustrations by Amanda Lanzone

Halloween is the best. And saying it's your favorite holiday isn't just shorthand for suggesting that deep inside you're some closet freak when really there's nothing there; it's also a way of saying you're onboard with little children dressing in spooky outfits to get free food. Adorable—and a pretty trenchant lesson about the power of high fashion. And when those kids get a little older? And they start egging houses and toilet papering trees? During the teenage years when humans become monsters but on the inside? Do we still like Halloween, or are we cherry picking the parts of Halloween we like? Loyalty's complicated! And what about the slightly older kids? Like those super teenagers, who are technically 26 or 30 and just grown adults but whom due to a number of economic and social factors have a tenuous relationship with adulthood and exhibit strange pedomorphic behaviors? Well, society tends to frown on adults just committing actual crimes. But, you're in luck. Here are 13 super fun Halloween pranks millennial grownups can try, most of which—like so many horrifying things—are basically legal!

Prank 1. Go to the grocery store and gather up all the eggs and shaving cream you can carry. If you're feeling really wild, get some toilet paper.

Once home, rub your hands together over your cache and whisper, "I really needed these."

Use them sparingly, until they are gone.

Prank 2. Sneak up to some old geezer's porch and swipe the pumpkin. Smash it on the ground and laugh. Now, carefully pick out the seeds, drying and roasting them on a cookie sheet. Don't add enough salt. Bring the seeds back to the house and ring the doorbell. Talk endlessly about what a great "healthy snack" pumpkin seeds make.

The adrenaline rush is like nothing you've ever felt.

Prank 3. Ring the doorbell of someone you hate, and when they open up, chuck a big sack of flour right at them, gently so they can catch it and it doesn't break open. Scream, "Lately I've gotten really into organic baking!"

The conversation will get everywhere, in their ears and mouth, and oh man, it's just this big awful mess, and it'll take them forever to get out.

Prank 4. Walk up to a quirky Dutch colonial, ring the bell, and then book it off the porch, far enough to turn and really admire the house's charming flared eaves. When the owners come to the door, pretend to just not understand what homeownership is.

Say, "So, like a long Airbnb stay? I'm not getting it..."

Peek inside their home and laugh, saying, "Are you sure you're not a store?"

When the door slams, remove the "Please take one!" sign from the candy bowl. Put it on the house and whisper, "I'm a disruptor."

Prank 5. Ding dong. Ask, "Umm, hi. What's the WiFi?"

Prank 6. Find a house with a perfectly manicured front lawn that the owners clearly care a lot about. Ring the doorbell. When they open the door, look at their yard and ask, really pointedly, "So like, what's a lawn even for?"

Say, "You stand there watering it, and then when it grows, you cut it? Is that so you can look crazy?"

The grass will never grow right again.

Prank 7. Go to that one house in the neighborhood that always gives out full-size candy bars. Yell, all sarcastic-like: "You are the best neighbor! Life is a competition, you win by spending money!"

Prank 8. Take a bunch of bologna and put it on a non-hybrid car to remove the paint. Spell out something naughty like, "The FDA advised against ever eating processed lunch meats, but your generation continues to enjoy them."

Prank 9. Ring the doorbell of a house that a baby boomer bought at a time when the interest rate was pegged to how lovingly a young white couple held each other at signing.

When the now-gray boomer, wearing a patronizing smile and commodity khakis from a big-box store looks you up and down in your responsibly made clothes that you're trying to get the most use out of and asks, "Now what are you supposed to be, some sort of hobo?" put one hand on his shoulder and look him right in the eye.

Spend the next 20 minutes with your hand there explaining how the mid-20th century's ideal of middle-class prosperity has been almost entirely undone in the last 30 years, but how, through no fault of his own, he likely still believes the world is as equal as it was when he was starting out, the way one might retain a fondness for the music of his youth.

Prank 10. Sneak up to the front door of a crabby old widow. Leave a paper bag full of dog poop on her doorstep. What that unsuspecting, you-know-what's gonna realize quick: It's her dog's poop. You scooped it from her yard after seeing her having trouble bending to pick it up. Probably arthritis. That's probably why she's grumpy. She's in pain is all. Guess we all are?

Now ring the doorbell and run away as fast as you can, because running's great exercise, and you don't want to be a drain on the healthcare system.

Prank 11. Go to the house of your sibling who married at age 27 like it's goddamn frontier-times or something. The sibling who asks when you're going to "finally settle down" like you're a toddler society is trying to put to bed.

Wait for her spawn, whom you love unconditionally for up to 45 minutes at a time, to all start misbehaving so badly that, in their mass-market Halloween costumes, they appear to be staging a performance art piece about "what we expect from our superheroes." When she laughs-yells, "It's crazy around here sometimes, but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way!" pull a fun size Crunch bar from the candy bowl.

Say, "It's not that I don't want a full life. But you ever notice how 'fun size' is always the opposite of 'family size'?"

Prank 12. Sneak up to a car to let the air out of the tires. But see your 61-year-old dad already under the hood, at 10 PM, just already like in the middle of a conversation with you about car maintenance. Around the engine, "the only place where things still make any goddamn sense, never mind it's all computers now," hold the flashlight while he lectures. "If you don't change the timing belt and it goes, you damage the camshaft, your valves, not to mention..."

Interrupt and say, "That's a good lesson-story."

"What? It's not a lesso.."

Say, "I have Zipcar."

Watch the hurt gather on his face like a puddle.

"If Zipcar breaks down, I'll Uber."

Make up apps. Take random nouns and just say them like they're verbs: "If Uber's surging, I'll Cup or Basket. Do you have Nightstand? You gotta get Nightstand."

Now that he's on his heels, say, "I have a lesson-story, too. It's about not burning blowup juice until the air is bad. Once upon a time, human activity increased average global temperatures and ice caps melted: as if the whole planet stood there... WITH THE FRIDGE DOOR OPEN."

Watch whatever task your dad is doing become pregnant with the reverse choreography of unspoken dad emotion. Hear the upwhining of a socket wrench: 5/16ths with flex head and extender arm, which produces a kind of muted wail some say is closer even to the human voice than cello.

Say, "Let me break it down in dad terms you can understand: We've irreversibly turned up the Earth's..." Throw your hands forward, like you're trying to scare him with jazz fingers. Say, "Thermostat!"

Prank 13. Go to your childhood home for a visit and walk around your old neighborhood. Pass that spooky house on the dead end, where the witch lived. A real live witch—you could even get a palm read for money. Remember how, once, a kid, still seated on his bike, held his palm out to the nice witch lady, who said, in a fake spooky voice, "Oh, I see great things in your future," and you all laughed, knowing she was joking, that you had to pay for a real palm reading.

Recall how you grew up and mistook the ordinary frictions of doing so for something else. How you fell victim to a constructed narrative: of a generation that all acts a certain way. Conflated time of birth with character traits was seduced by the comforting astrology of millennial trend stories.

Recall how you got palm readings from all around you, and how you paid.

Ridiculed actual astrology whenever it came up. Worried over your prospects, over your pillowcase's weight. Think, Jesus Christ, it was a different time back then. Witches were owning houses with palm reading money.

Take this walk around your neighborhood on one of the first, long fall nights: When telephone poles seem suddenly skeletal in their sad resolve, the new darkness is nothing if not an invitation to mischief and every common street sign a ready-synecdoche for trouble. When cool air emboldens even as it chills, and dead brown leaves scrape unsatisfied across suburban sidewalks. When a tincture of spookiness yields a restlessness, a wandering, when for an evening or two the very flesh of the universe jags from obedience to obsidian. On this long night of the soul, wonder. Wonder what the witch would have said if you all laid your bikes down and walked up to the her house with five dollars.

Would she have said, in a non-jokey voice:

"Oh, no, I see very grave things for you children. Very grave indeed. You are all fated to spend your days wearing silly costumes, store bought and homemade, dressed as things you want to be but aren't. You will walk in search of a sweetness that won't satisfy, dependent on others. Yessss, I see a chill, and on it, you will blame your restlessness and troublemaking. You group will celebrate disruption, ride bikes longer than you ever thought, and scare grownups by not becoming them. A brooding brood. A thousandth year's curse: It will always be Halloween for you, always.'"

Return home. Ask your mom whatever happened to that witch lady at the end of the street. When she asks what you're talking about, and says the owners lost that house during the recession in the early 80s, right before you were born, when things were really bad, that it never resold. When she says that house was empty your entire childhood, wonder: Is this a trick, or treat?

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