It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’m not sure why. That is the way bad ideas present themselves—as good ideas when you least know it.
While my wife took our kids trick-or-treating, a sanctioned pastime that teaches our children extortion, I would stay in the mansion and pass out candy to the various ghouls, goblins, and neighborhood brats.
Nearly every good plan that fails does so because of poor planning, poor execution or just plain bad luck. I think I scored the Halloween trifecta.
In the past, when we lived in a galaxy far, far away, we would take the young ‘uns out together as a family, leaving a bowl of candy on the front porch. That wasn’t really such a bad idea, and I’m not sure why we ever deviated from that plan.
I was originally very leery about leaving a bowl full of candy unattended on our front porch. The way I figured it, the first punk that comes by scores a mother lode, and the second schmuck dressed like a Teletubbie finds an empty bowl. Within fifteen minutes, the unruly masses that trudged all the way up to our porch to find a disappointingly empty bowl will band together as a riotous mob to soap our windows and hang facial tissue delicately from our trees.
But I was wrong. When we arrived back home, there was still candy in the bowl. My wife had crafted a sign which she hung on the bowl that said, “Please take no more than two. . .God is watching.”
I think we ended up with more candy in the bowl than we started with. Some of the little demons must have sacrificed their own candy in an offering at our Halloween altar. I guess they figured it was like paying a penance or something. Apparently, the little renegades from a travelling circus must have actually bought into the theology that the Almighty has nothing better to do than to sit guard over a bowl of candy.
But it worked.
And it was a much better plan than having me hand out candy all night long.
I watched my family head out with empty bags and high hopes, as I lit a fire in the fireplace (no easy task, since I actually had to get up and cross the room to turn on the gas switch.) I then settled in to watch a horror flick on TV.
The opening credits hadn’t finished, the opening theme hadn’t faded away and not a single drop of blood had been shed before the first band of merry ghosts rang my doorbell.
I eagerly took up the bowl of candy and headed for the front door. I pretended to try and guess who the little hooligans were, acted amazed at their pathetic little costumes, and then passed out treats.
It then struck me, that I was passing out perfectly good candy that I would really enjoy while watching my movie, to people I don’t know or care about, for reasons that were quite beyond my comprehension. And I knew full well that my kids would return without enough loot to cut my losses. Worse yet, while I’m handing out peanut butter cups—nature’s most perfect food—my kids were probably procuring stale popcorn balls or lumps of hard candy and stale chewing gum in return.
I began to stuff my face, reasoning that any candy I managed to put away, was candy the little heathens at my door would not get.
The movie hadn’t even made it to the first commercial break, and already my bell had rung five times. The movie was just getting interesting, by the sound of the music someone was about to meet their death, and I was almost halfway through the Reese’s cups. I ran to the door with chocolate dripping from my mouth and quickly passed the treats out slick as a Las Vegas dealer palming cards from under the deck.
I hadn’t even got a chance to sit down, when the cursed bell rang again.
This time, I threw open the door and tossed some candy out, shutting it quickly behind me. I think I hit a witch in the eye with a Mounds, but I didn’t wait long enough to hear if she screamed.
I went to the kitchen for a beer. I needed something to wash down the glob of peanut butter in my throat. Believe it or not, the bell rang again before I had even chugged the first bottle.
“What do you want?” I screamed as I opened the door.
I was running out of candy, and the doorbell kept ringing. I would rather hear the screaming of the lambs than that incessant ringing.
I think some of the little devils were coming twice. It was hard to tell for sure, but the costumes looked familiar, and some of them were ducking before I even opened the door.
I opened up a pack of cookies, and started passing them out.
But they kept on coming.
I drank another beer, and said a prayer.
I passed out potato chips. The first couple of times, I actually took the time to put them in some plastic baggies. After a couple more beers, I just dumped them in their Halloween sacks. It’s hard to throw chips.
Apples worked pretty well. I got rid of the rest of the oranges in the crisper. There was also an onion, some broccoli and a stalk of celery. I cut the head of lettuce up into pieces, and offered some salad dressing on the side.
I discovered some little bottles of liquor in the cupboard, left over from some airplane trip. I didn’t give those out. But they’re gone now too.
There must have been over 200 kids that came to my door. I gave out the empty bowl. I wrote out some IOUs for candy. I haven’t been able to find my slippers.
Next year, I’ll just put another bowl out, and leave it at that.
NB: I wrote this article 11 years ago for another site, but have reprinted it here because I got some requests for it. OK. I GOT ONE REQUEST. If you consider my multiple personalities, then it seems like multiple requests. The title is a quote attributed to Ogden Nash. Then Willy Wonka.