OK, so the title of this blogpost is a double entendre–either I slipped on a squashed pumpkin and landed on the mouse, or I’ve been celebrating Halloween the entire week. I’ll leave you to decide which.
Usually I try to tell a scary story each All Hallows Eve (last year, for example, was the tale of the dead chicken ghosts), but even though I know of some really scary things (current US foreign policy, real estate market, and the condition of Rajah’s litterbox being three), I’m kinda tapped out for really spooky Halloween stories this year.
In fact, about the only thing really bugging me right now (aside from Rajah about the litterbox) is my usual candy anxiety. Come to think of it, that IS a horror story. There is an ideal world (probably in Iowa) where the amount of candy you buy exactly matches the number of trick or treat bags you’re required to fill.
That is not my world.
My first year in this house, I noted that my neighbors were well beyond their childbearing years. Those who weren’t were either gay, pregnant for the first time, or filling out college applications. Thus assured, I purchased a single bag of 12 mini-Snickers bars and figured I was set for the night.
197 children showed up.
During the ensuing riots I snuck out the back and headed for the corner grocery, which had pretty much been stripped of all sugar. I purchased a dozen cases of lunchbox-sized potato chip bags, sped back to the house and helped send a plethora of small, bewildered children down the oversalted road to hypertension.
Next year, I started my Halloween shopping early. I calculated three pieces of candy per child, 1 each in the dumb, yum and megacool categories (i.e., candy corn, chocolate bars and ultrasour stuff). With a 20% margin of error, I figured I needed 709.2 pieces of candy. I bought 1,000 pieces, just to be on the safe side.
Five children showed up.
Two weren’t ambulatory as yet and had trouble grasping the concept of a giant vat of candy; they took one piece between them. The remaining three got sharp parental warnings to be polite and take JUST ONE PIECE. “Please, PLEASE, take many pieces,” I pleaded, “Take all you want. I’ll even help you out to the car with it. Need another bag?”
Surprised by my vehemence, the first wee ghoulie burst into tears and ran away. The second hollered “THANK YOU VERY MUCH LADY LADY!” and waved a hand–candyless–in farewell. The third yelled “OK!!” and eagerly grabbed…a second piece.
Now, I practice Safe Sacks; I buy sacks of Halloween candy I don’t much care for and therefore won’t consume in place of my next five meals. I was now stuck with 995 pieces of so-so candy. I took them to work and fed them to the QC engineers. They’ll eat anything.
Since then I’ve learned that Halloween candy follows a special variant of the Malthusian principle: The population of costumed children at Halloween will increase to just past the level of your candy …plus or minus 200.
This year I forgot all about the candy thing until about 4pm, then rushed to the store. I brought home a couple hundred pieces of Baby Ruth bars and Jolly Ranchers and Butterfingers and something utterly awful looking called “Hersheys Chocolate Marshmallow Kisses.” By 5:00 I’d filled the candy bowl, set it by the front door, and settled down to a Rocky Horror retrospective while waiting.
It’s 6:22PM, black as pitch outside…and I’m still waiting. –sigh–
That’s it. Next year I’m putting this on a sound business footing. I’m sending out RFQs to every household within a 1 mile radius, asking for candy collection forecasts. I’ll draft an MOU with clear explanations of the penalties for non-performance. And then I’ll
Wait. That’s the doorbell…
Buzz Lightyear and his brother the pirate informed me that children aren’t supposed to say “Trick or Treat,” because “it’s mean.” “Happy Halloween” is apparently the new and politically correct greeting.
T-minus 4 pieces of candy…and counting.
Update 11:00 PM: I think we set a new record this year: Buzz, the pirate, a ninja and Batman, his little brother. Four.
I found the last two huddled wearily against my front door. “Twick or tweat,” they said listlessly, “We’re tired.”
Scott, their dad, grimaced. “I told them that they could only take as much candy as they could carry themselves,” he said, gesturing at their overflowing pumpkin baskets, “Every house in the neighborhood loaded them up with candy–nobody’s getting any traffic–and they’re tired of lugging it up the hill.”
“Just one piece, please,” piped the ninja, “I can’t carry any more.”
“Sharon’s back at the house giving out our candy and I’ll bet she’s given out, what, four pieces?” Scott sighed, “and now we’re bringing this lot home.”
Staring down at my overflowing bowl, I just couldn’t muster all that much sympathy. I wonder if there’s a charity that finds good homes for unused candy?