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 wildly celebrating Halloween for a whole week. I’ll leave you to decide which.
Usually I tell a scary story on All Hallows Eve (last year was the tale of the dead chicken ghosts). This year, even though I know of really scary things (current US foreign policy, real estate market, and the condition of Rajah’s litterbox being three), I’m kinda tapped out on really spooky Halloween stories. The only thing really bugging me right now (aside from Rajah about his litterbox) is my usual candy anxiety.
Hmmm. Come to think of it, that IS a horror story. So…sit back and listen up.
There is an ideal world, probably in Iowa, where the amount of candy you buy exactly matches the number of trick or treat bags presented at your door.
That is not my world.
In my first year in this house, I took careful stock of my neighborhood, inventorying the number of Halloween-ready children. Most of my neighbors were well beyond childbearing years. Those who weren’t, were either gay, pregnant for the first time, or filling out college applications.
In fact, there wasn’t a single potentially costume-wearing, candy-grubbing kidling in the entire neighborhood. Reassured, I purchased a single bag of 12 mini-Snickers bars, slid them onto a delicate porcelain plate by the door, and figured I was all set for Halloween.
197 children showed up. In the first hour.
During the ensuing riots, I snuck out the back door and headed for the corner grocery. It had been stripped of anything remotely sugary, but I purchased a dozen cases of lunchbox potato chip bags, sped back to the house and helped send an army of small, bewildered children down the oversalted road to hypertension.
Not one to be fooled twice, the following year I started my Halloween candy planning early. Based on the previous year’s population, and figuring a certain level of amorous adventuring on the part of parental units, I estimated a potential audience of 312 children.
If each child received three pieces of candy, I’d need 936 total pieces, distributed evenly over dumb, yum, and megacool categories (i.e., candy corn, chocolate bars, and ultrasour stuff). Adding in a margin of error, I purchased 1,000 total pieces, hauled the bags into the house, and hunted up enough vats to contain everything by the front door.
Five children showed up. FIVE.
Two of the little rugrats 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 politely take JUST ONE PIECE.
“OH NO! Please, PLEASE, take many pieces,” I pleaded, ignoring glares shot my way, “Take all the candy you can carry. I’ll even help you out to the car with it. Need more bags?”
Surprised by my largesse, the first wee ghoulie burst into tears and ran away. The second hollered “THANK YOU VERY MUCH LADY LADY!” and waved a candyless hand in farewell. The third yelled “OK!!” and eagerly grabbed…a second piece.
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. That meant I was now stuck with 995 pieces of candy I wouldn’t eat in a million years. I dragged it to work and left it near the QC engineers’ cage. They’ll eat anything.
Lesson learned: Halloween candy follows a special variant of the Balancing Selection principle of genetics: The population of costumed children at Halloween must always balance the available supply of comestibles…on the opposite end. Therefore, no matter how much candy–or how little–I purchase, it will always be wildly wrong. Useless to even try.
So this year I decided to stop trying and simply ignore the doorbell, a resolution that lasted until 4pm. I thought about all those tearily disappointed little faces gazing at my empty candy bowl and…just couldn’t.
I rushed to the store for a couple hundred pieces of Baby Ruth bars and Jolly Ranchers and Butterfingers and something utterly awful looking called “Hersheys Chocolate Marshmallow Kisses.” By 5:00pm I’d filled the candy bowl, set it by the front door, and settled down with Rocky Horror to wait for my kids.
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 “Twick or Tweat,” because “it’s mean.” “Happy Hawwoween” is apparently the new and politically correct greeting. They each took two pieces of candy.
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 tricker or treaters. 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?