Thursday, November 01, 2007
Every year, it’s the same thing; too much candy.
MY WIFE always tells me, a couple of weeks before Halloween, that I shouldn’t buy a lot of candy. She reminds me that there were only a handful of children at our door last year, and that we ended up eating three huge bags full of Milky Ways, York Peppermint Patties, and Three Musketeers all by ourselves. She begs me not to get my hopes up. She implores me to have some common sense. She insists that one bag of candy will be more than enough, and that we’ll still end up eating far too many leftovers anyway.
I ignore her, of course.
The problem is that I remember the Halloweens of my youth. The streets were full of children, from the time it got dark until 9:00 or 9:30. To bring home our bounty of candy, we all carried either giant pillowcases or the type of shopping bag with handles that they gave your mother when she bought a couple of minor appliances at Jordan Marsh. We filled them to the brim with real regulation-size candy bars, going to every house within five blocks and only stopping when our sacks were so full we pretty much had to drag them home.
Once we got home with our load of swag, we gorged ourselves on Mars Bars, Snickers, Sugar Daddies, Sugar Babies (but there were no Sugar Mommies - that always struck me as strange), Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy, Charleston Chews, Mallo Cups, Pixie Stix, and other assorted tooth-rotters and filling-pullers, until we were fairly hallucinating from the glucose intake. We pretended to puff on our candy cigarettes and bubblegum cigars while our parents watched with bemusement. We chewed on homemade popcorn balls and worried not a whit about the possibility of being poisoned. About the only thing we weren’t allowed to eat were apples. They might contain a razor blade - or so the rumors went, although I never heard of any actual kid biting into an apple and having his lips sliced off.
(Nowadays, it seems the only one of those things that any parent would LIKE to see their kid eat is the apple, as long as it was organically grown.)
This year, I actually listened to MY WIFE. I bought ONE bag of candy. It was a rather large bag, containing approximately one hundred Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s Chocolate Bars, Kit-Kats, and the damnedest packages of Malted Milk Balls. In the interests of scientific study, I had a few of each. It was near impossible to open the Malted Milk Balls packages. I finally had to cut them open with a scissors. It was aggravating as all hell. I decided to give those out first, because that way the kids would get a bit of exercise to work off the calories.
I emptied the remainder of the bag into a big plastic bowl, placing it by the door in anticipation of the hordes of cute children who would descend upon our porch in wonderful costumes, ringing our bell, and joyfully shouting “Trick Or Treat!”
(MY WIFE, despite her protestations concerning the expected lack of children, had decorated our house, this past Sunday, with wonderful cutouts of ghosts, witches, pumpkins, and other assorted eerie ephemera. She drew them herself and they really looked spooky.)
MY WIFE was, unfortunately, working last night. She wouldn’t be there to see the parade of pirates, superheroes, tramps, ballerinas, princesses, and monsters. I, however, hustled home from work, arriving at about 5:30. I hurriedly turned on the porch light to show the kids that we were open for business. I raised the Venetian blinds and stationed Paddington Bear in one of our windows to stand guard looking for the first arrivals.
I opened our front door and went out onto the porch. I wanted to make sure that the outer door wasn’t locked. It wasn’t. I noticed that our upstairs neighbors were not going to be home. They had left a bowl full of Skittles packages in front of their door, a big hand-printed sign pointing down to it, saying “Happy Halloween! Take One, Please!”
I didn’t want any kids seeing our neighbor's sign and somehow getting the impression that I wasn’t home. I went back into the house and made a sign of my own. It said, “Please Knock For More Treats!!!” I taped it to our front door and went back inside. I waited for the first knock.
And waited. And waited some more. Finally, at about 6:15, there was a soft knock on the door. I opened the door with a big smile on my face. There stood three very cute little girls, along with their parents. It was our next-door neighbors.
“Hello!” I said cheerfully.
The kids just sort of stood there staring at me. I said, “Happy Halloween!”
Their mother said, “What do you say?”
The kids – well, one of the kids, the oldest – sort of mumbled, “Trihertrea...?”
Mom looked at me as though her child had just won a Rhodes scholarship. Well, heck, I was so happy to see them, they could have said, “Kiss my ass, you stupid old fart!” and I still would have given them candy. I put one of everything into each of their bags. Mom and Dad said a very sincere, “Thank You!” and then they turned and headed back onto the street.
I returned inside and settled down on the couch, watching a bit of the news and waiting for more kids to show up. Twenty minutes later, there came a knock.
I bolted up from the couch and opened the door. There on the porch were three extremely large little girls. On second glance, I saw that they were actually perhaps 19 or 20 years old. Before I really had a chance to consider the fact that they were way too old to be going door-to-door begging candy, they all shouted “Trick Or Treat!” and started giggling. They opened their bags and smiled at me expectantly.
Ah, well, what the hell. They were all wearing costumes of one sort or another and they were more cheerful than the little kids had been earlier. I gave them a couple of candy bars each. As they left, they all said a big “Thank you! Happy Halloween!”
Thirty minutes later, I heard the front porch door open. I heard general scuffling noises outside. Someone said, “The sign says to take ONE!” This was followed by gales of laughter. Then, the noise stopped, and there came a knock on my door.
I opened the door and saw four more older teenage girls, all standing there giggling. They were in costumes and holding pillowcases. They shouted “TRICK OR TREAT!
This time I stared at them for a few seconds. They didn’t waver a bit. They just stood there with their bags wide open, smiling and giggling.
I threw a couple of treats into each pillowcase. They each, in turn, said a very polite “Thank you! Happy Halloween!” and then sort of half-walked half-ran to the street. I watched them go down the block. I then looked down at our neighbor’s bowl of Skittles packages. It was as empty as a campaign promise. The last set of twice-as-old-as-they-should-have-been bitches had dumped all 35 or 40 remaining packages into their pillowcases - and then had the malted milk balls to knock on MY door in an attempt to get even MORE candy. And I had given it to them, too.
And that was it for the entire night. THREE actual kids, two parents, and seven ridiculously overage adolescents, four of them basically thieves.
I threw a handful of our candy into our neighbor’s bowl. What the heck – they probably would like a treat when they got home and they deserve something for still having trust in their fellow humans, misguided though it may be.
MY WIFE came home from work and I told her the sad tale. I’d like to be able to tell you that she DIDN’T say, “I told you so.” However, I can’t reasonably expect you to believe that, can I? No, I can’t.
Happy friggin’ Halloween. Next year, I’m giving those "special" apples to anyone over twelve. Consider yourself warned.