THRILLER

As a kid, I loved Halloween almost more than Christmas. Neighborhoods were safer then, and Halloween actually commenced after dark. Nothing was more exciting than racing along dim streets in our costumes. The candy part was anticlimactic. I don’t remember even sampling the candy until after I got home—NO, the real fun was running free in the night, shouting, knocking on strange doors, and comparing notes with my friends on which houses were handing out the best loot. If you got a full sized Hershey bar, that was AMAZING. And by the way, the person who coined the term “fun sized” for those stinking little miniature candy bars is a master of brainwashing, as far as I am concerned.

Another fantastic feature of Halloween, in my youthful opinion, was what it did to ADULTS. Some of the most dignified and respected parents donned costumes and acted extremely frivolous. One of our neighbors dressed up as a witch every Halloween and should have been ashamed of herself, as far as I was concerned. Luckily for me, my mother behaved in an acceptable fashion and merely answered the door and meted out the candy. Period. Of course, SHE didn’t have much fun, but I was fine with that.

This brings me to today. In our family, no one loves Halloween more than my husband. Not me, and not our daughters, even when they were within trick-or-treating parameters. To say that Charlie REVELS in the holiday doesn’t even scratch the surface! At our house, there is an electric jack o’lantern that revolves on a turntable with a fun house mirror behind it! We have scary music blaring out into the night! There are skeleton lights in the tree! It is all I can do to keep Charlie IN the house (in past years, he would meet the little kids at the edge of the yard, and it was reported that they were becoming intimidated…) until the doorbell rings.

Last year we ran out of candy. Panic ensued. I began searching around the house for alternatives as Charlie stalled the children at the door. At first, all was well, as I found some granola bars in the cupboard. But when those were gone, necessity became the mother of invention. Do you remember getting APPLES in your trick or treat bag as a kid? AND HATING THAT??? I rejected the fruit idea. Charlie suggested giving pennies, but Annie reminded us that inflation would dictate that in 2008 the equivalent would be quarters, at least, and we had a dollar’s worth. Another quick rummage through the kitchen.

ME: “WHAT ABOUT MARSHMALLOWS?”

ANNIE: “ARE THEY INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED? IF NOT, MOMS WILL THINK THEY HAVE RAZORS IN THEM!”

ME: “OK, HOW ABOUT THESE INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED PRUNES?”

ANNIE: “ARE YOU KIDDING?”

After a few similar exchanges, with the children on the stoop becoming more restive, verging on violence, I found a box of Quaker Instant Cinnamon Oatmeal, and that was reluctantly accepted by two small ghosts and one tiny cheerleader. Charlie was becoming desperate, his reputation as neighborhood Halloween bon vivant at stake. I began throwing anything I could come up with into the treat bowl: one unopened package of Tic Tacs, two packages of peanut butter Nabs, one carnation instant breakfast, and just as I was about to throw in some microwave popcorn, Annie said, “OK, this is ridiculous, just SHUT THE DOOR AND TURN OUT THE PORCH LIGHT!”

This year, I am going to be smarter and get more candy. No more panic on All Hallow’s Eve for us! And, of course, as a weight watcher, I know enough to get candy that I don’t like.

But I do worry about this, because when Charlie finds out that we are giving out Horehound Drops and Licorice All Sorts this year, I am not sure what he will do…

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