Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sugar Low

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.


Anonymous said...

I don't mind the older teenagers that come to the door, as long as they're in the spirit of it.

We had a couple of 17 year olds that were totally and non-ironically into it, and I felt better giving candy to them than to the 12 year old junior high kids with attitude.

But the best are the little 4 year olds. We had one little girl (great pterodactyl costume) who after saying thank you, turned around, looked at the front steps going down, and bellowed at her parents on the street, "I NEED HELP!! GETTING DOWN THE STAIRS!!" Awesome.

(And for the record, we had about thirty trick-or-treaters last night. Enough to justify the amount of candy we bought, but not enough to take it all.) >:-)

endangered coffee said...

It seems like the Halloween Industrial Commercial Complex is far more aggressive than in the days of our youth, yet the actual trick or treating has decreased. There's probably some kind of college thesis mumbo jumbo in there, somewhere.

David Sullivan said...

My kids went out and filled their plastic pumpkins, while I manned the house to give out candy. I gave out candy to six groups of kids (one group filled with adolesent girls!). I started the night with 10 lbs of candy, gave out 2 lbs, but gained five lbs. The house netted three lbs of candy, enought to last through Super Bowl Sunday!!

I'll bring some to the game Sat. What goes best with Bud Light?

Chuck said...

You could always make some laxative-based candy for the older kids and save a special bowl for when they come calling.

I live in an apartment, plus I worked last night, so I didn't buy any candy. My one Halloween at home with candy was an equally disappointing night. I get kind of annoyed when parents take out their kids trick or treating when they can't talk yet. I don't remember that happening any when I was growing up. But lots has changed.

Suldog said...

Sween - I don't really mind the older kids, either. It was only the ratio (7:3) that disturbed me. Well, that and the blatant disregard for manners when it came to my neighbor's treats.

I remember getting wasted on a streetcorner with my friends, when I was 17, and then having all of us decide that candy bars would really hit the spot. We chose a likely house, rung the bell, and were rewarded with treats. Since I was treated so nicely at a time when I was obviously older than expected, I can't rightly begrudge anyone else.

EC - When I was a kid, I believed that Halloween was for kids. As I've grown older and wiser, I've come to the conclusion that it is much more for the adults, whether parents taking their kids door-to-door, or those who try to recapture their childhood for a night. The kids are just handy props for some of us.

Cuz - If you're bringing lite beer, then bring heavy candy. You have to have a well-balanced diet, you know.

Chuck - Ex-Lax fudge?

(Do they still make Ex-Lax? I have to figure there has to have been some sort of lawsuit by this time, what with all the dumbasses around today.)

Brian in Oxford said...

Are those the apples with razor blades in them? Or the ones dipped in LSD? :)

Andraste said...

I also don't get the people who bring infants trick or treating. Those kids have NO idea what's going on. Are the parents merely showing off their progeny? Showing how cute their little poop-machine is in his bumblebee/lightbulb/pumpkin costume?

Bah. If the kid can't say "trick or treat" or know what candy is...get off my porch!

Suldog said...

Brian - Oooooh! Apples dipped in LSD! That's much better than Ex-Lax!

Andraste - Yeah, I sort of don't get the point, either. But, if the costume is cute enough, I'm willing to give up some candy for the laugh.

Kevin Smith said...

More and more parents are doing the coordinated trick-or-treating at malls across America. I think there's a general attitude of it being safer than sending kids up to knock on the door of some stranger's house, so you get fewer and fewer kids going door to door nowadays.

Ali P said...

Oh Darlin' I'm so sorry for you. It was like that when we lived in the sticks and all trick or treating was done by car..our house was right on the main highway but for some reason very few stopped for treats at our house. The last two years we lived there we didn't even bother. We took our kids to town so they could trick or treat on foot and have the "real" halloween experience.
I had fewer BIG trick or treaters than last year. I think that why my numbers were down.
Also, here in our immediate neighborhood, we have an unusual number of Halloween Grinches. Darkish houses. It means the little folk here have to go farther afield to get treats.
My fave treater last night was a wee'un in a lion costume who was very very chatty but I had no idea what she/he was telling me since it was all in French with a toddlerish accent(3 plus years old maybe??). But that child had my heart while chatting my ear off and wishing me a Joyeux Halloween and Bonne Soiree.

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Yeah, I'm with you here. We have a long drive, it takes a dedicated trick or treater to make the trudge down it, and we don't get many. My fourteen year old (with a mental age of four) is too scared to go out with the sib's, but he LOVES answering the door with treats to dispense - he even gets dressed up for it.

More than 90% of our miserable neighbours refused to answer the door when my 10 yr old and her friends made he hike down their drives, and they came home with a very poor crop of treats. As for poor Sam, despite waiting by the door in a huge state of anticipation, the only trick or treaters to grace our porch was his sister and her friends. Poo..

Michal said...

i'm afraid that it bugs me when teenagers trick or treat. i guess i'm just a dud that way, but i always feel taken advantage of somehow. if you're old enough to have a job, go buy some candy bars, or stay home and mooch the candy your mom bought for trick-or-treaters.
i'm like you--i always buy way too much candy in anticipation of lots of kids. this year i overbought and then someone showed up at our party with three huge bags, which she added to our cauldron. even though my husband gave away handfuls to every trick or treater, we ended up with more candy that we had when we started! i just dumped it all into a target bag and hid it in the top corner of my pantry so that if i'm desperate enough to get a step stool and move five things to get to the chocolate, i'll know where to find it!

Anonymous said...

There were actually "chocolate babies" that came in an orange box and were little chocolate humans.
Similar to toosie rolls and quite tasty.

david mcmahon said...

Jim, you're always so good to read. And remember the greatest truth of the laws of life - always listen to your beloved wife.

(I didn't intend that to rhyme. I didn't think I'd have the time.)

Merisi said...

Your comment about "kids as handy props" had me in stitches, not about Halloween but the Easter Egg Roll at the White House: You need an under six (or the like) year old, to be be allowed to enter the White House grounds. Had to force my youngest to come along as our entry ticket, i.e. prop. *shame*
(As far as teenagers as trick-n-treaters are concerned, I don't mind them at all: If the are polite and want to have genuine some fun on Halloween night, I welcome them with open candy bags.)

Anonymous said...

hilarious story. I must admit that I went trick or treating as a teen (with my brother and a couple other neighborhood boys). I seem to remember that I was a ghost and they were green bay packers. =)

Deborah Gamble said...

Great story! You need to read McGlinch's ( Halloween Rules.

Anonymous said...

We get lots of teenagers too, sometimes not even in costume. So this year, if they didn't have a costume I made them sing. My seven year old nearly peed herself laughing at this hulking 15 year old boy signing the abc song (He claimed not to know any songs, so I suggested that one). But we gave him a fistful of candy and thanked him sincerely. Was one of the highlights of my night.