Monday, October 31, 2016

Tricked on Treats

Having just bought my house on August 31, I wasn't sure what to expect for my first Halloween in the new 'hood.

So far, it's been pretty quiet at my little bungalow, second to last house on the dead-end street. There are a couple kids I see frequently, but the noise they produce is usually limited to the sound of their bouncing basketball.

When I walk the dogs in the morning I see evidence of children nearby in the form of a school bus looping through the streets. Faced with the evidence (school bus, young basketball players), I figured I'd better be prepared for Trick or Treat.

The whole Halloween Trick or Treat thing amuses me. You know, the magic of that one night of the year when people suddenly encourage their kids to ask strangers for treats, after preaching "stranger danger" the prior 364 days. But I digress.

Afraid of being  labeled "THAT HOUSE" ... you know, the one with the cranky old lady who gives out crappy candy (like NECCO Wafers ... what is the deal with those?) ... or worse, no candy ... I  bought candy to distribute to the hordes of begging stranger children who would be banging on the door.

And I went big, with name brand candy that cost an arm,  a leg, and half the grocery budget. Seriously, it was more than $25 for stupid candy that is now the reason I'll be dining on 25-cent ramen daily for the next week. Because you know ... I didn't want the begging strangers to think I was cheap.

On Halloween, I rushed home from work,  fed the dogs, then took the one willing dog for a walk while the other dog lazed in the house. The largest plastic bowl was already filled to the brim, prepared the night before. Continuing the candy trend started at work with Candy Corn, Caramel Cremes and Twizzlers, it was candy for supper -- several tiny Milky Way and Snickers bars.

To keep the dogs from getting too stressed during the upcoming commotion, Moose was attired in the Thunder Shirt and Pee Wee's Playhouse was running in the DVD player to distract them (still haven't bothered to order cable). The candy bowl was strategically located near the door. The deck /driveway light shone in all its brilliance and glory.

Tonight, there would be no fussing with the endless stream of moving boxes to unpack (and still more in storage). It was game time. I was focused. I was ready. I  was watching the clock.

The anticipation mounted. What would be the most popular costume? How many kids would show up? Would I run out of candy and have to hand out granola bars, apple sauce cups, and soy nuts in a panic?

It was thirty minutes before the first kid arrived ... a nondescript kid in a nondescript dark outfit of some sort, accompanied by a woman with a flashlight. I sprinted out to the deck clutching my gigantic bowl. That kid got six candies. If I didn't need that pricey Tupperware vessel, I might have handed the whole thing to him and called it a night.

It was another hour before the second kid arrived, a princess in a vibrant red, waist length wig. I noticed her when she was at the big house opposite mine. A guy who lives there talked with the adult accompanying her, put something in the  girl's candy-collecting plastic pumpkin, then got into a car and left. Just drove away while the princess, another younger kid in a wagon, and the adult male he seemed to know stood in front of his house.

Then the red-wigged princess darted across the street to my house, where she received a handful of candy before being scolded by the responsible adult, first for running across the street alone, and then for taking her wig off when she returned to the wagon. Then the adult dumps the candy into a sack in the wagon and tells the kid, "It's ALL mine."

By now, I'm bored out of my mind with the Halloween waiting game, so I'm standing in my doorway watching the street and hoping for more kids, because there is still roughly 100 pounds of candy I don't even like in that bowl. This was due to my brilliantly strategic move of buying high quantity bags of candy I wouldn't devour in advance. It seemed smart at the time.

As I'm staring out the door,  big daddy, still across the street, walks up the neighbor's driveway to the trash cans. I figure he's probably putting trash in the barrel. After too long of him standing there facing the house and barrels, I realize he's peeing, confirmed when he does the little hoppy step and hikes his pants back into place.  Meanwhile, the princess and the younger kid in the wagon are still on the sidewalk. In the dark. Alone. He returns to the kids and fumbles around in the wagon some more before they all walk up the street.

And that was it. No more kids. 14,000 pieces of candy and blow pops left in a bowl. Maybe it can be a head start on Christmas shopping.