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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Halloween Candy, Crushed

I knew this would happen. It always happens.

As I wrote a few days ago (toward the end of a Heath Ledger / Levi’s dominatrix / casual sex / Stephen Baldwin something-or-other), I never know how much Halloween candy to buy.

The big risk is buying too little. The last thing you want on Trick or Treat night is to be staring down at the empty sack of some quivery-lipped four-year-old princess and telling her that you’re vewy sowwy, but you’re fresh out of mini Baby Ruth bars, and maybe try again next year.

Because she will totally kick you in the junk.

To prevent such crotch-crackery, the missus and I always buy a big bag of goodies and have it ready, by the door, in the requisite spooky bowl.

(I don’t know what makes it a “spooky bowl”, exactly. Sure, it’s orange. But I used to eat popcorn out of the thing, and I haven’t seen any poltergeist Orville Reddenbachers hanging around the pantry making googly skull faces at the Tostitos. Whatever.)

Every year, we do this. And we diligently wait by the door for trick-or-treaters.

Well. Maybe not right by the door. More “near the door”. On the couch, in the living room. Watching Seinfeld reruns, probably, and scarfing popcorn out of microwave bags.

(Yeah. Take that, Mister Spookybowl.)

Okay, so we don’t put an enormous amount of effort into our Halloween hospitality. I’ll own that. Still, we’re always prepared. And it could be a lot worse. Before this condo, we lived in a house with forty-something stairs up to the porch. My wife was in law school at the time, so she didn’t have time to hand out candy. And my wife was in law school at the time, so I didn’t want to talk to anybody. Most years there, we stuck a plastic jack o’lantern on the stoop below the porch — “hey, kids, we saved you the last six steps!” — with a glob of Smarties and a sign reading “TAKE ONE”.

(Most years, the candy was all gone, probably in the first ten minutes. One year, we lost all the candy, and the plastic jack o’ bucket. Another year, it rained and made such a mess of the sugar and signage we didn’t know what to do with it.

It’s probably still buried under the porch, hanging out with the ghost of Jiffy Pops past.)

The families upstairs in our building have kids. We figure we can at least count on them to come down, and we’ll shove handfuls of this junk into their sacks — thus annoying their parents at our sugar-enabling of their children. And making more noise for ourselves, as the tykes scamper back and forth above our heads.

“Or, since we’re kidless, assumed we’d give out something stupid like celery sticks. Or box wine. Or stock tips.”

Yeah, we really didn’t think this through. It’s probably a good thing the neighbor kids didn’t actually stop by. Their parents probably planned further ahead. Or, since we’re kidless, assumed we’d give out something stupid like celery sticks. Or box wine. Or stock tips.

The thing is, not only did the folks above seek their candied booty elsewhere — apparently, so did the entire neighborhood. Our bowl went untouched, our buzzer unrung and our Seinfeld rerun — we were watching the one where Elaine eats Peterman’s antique wedding cake; a classic — uninterrupted.

Until 8:30pm, long after we figured the little goblins and cowboys and pint-sized Ruth Bader GInsburgs would all be in bed. Our doorbell rang; I grabbed the bowl and went to investigate, chomping a Three Musketeers.

It was two girls in some sort of unidentifiable (by me, anyway) costumes, maybe eighteen or twenty years old. One might have been a ghost. Or a swan. Or Colonel Sanders. I’m not very good at the costume guessing game.

They asked for candy — I tried giving them half a bowl each, but they declined and took a single piece, the ungreedy little harpies. But this being Boston, they also had an ulterior and politically-driven motive — they asked if I’d sign some petition they were touting.

I don’t usually sign petitions. Or anything else, if I can help it. And — note: Boston — there are plenty of clipboard pushers roaming the streets and knocking on doors for all sorts of causes around here. It’s like a Jehovah’s Witness convention, without all the Jeebus.

But this struck me as a singularly ingenious strategy for stumping. It’s trick or treat night, so people are inclined to open their doors. They’re technically asking for candy, so you can’t even say they’re completely co-opting the occasion — and they came out (so far as I know) after the official T ‘n’ T hours. Plus, the not-Colonel Sanders girl was kind of cute.

They’d clearly covered all their bases. So I signed the petition, whatever it was for. Something about getting the minimum wage raised, or getting it lowered, or farming children to India in exchange for sweatshops. Or sweatshirts. Something. I don’t know.

All I know is, those two took candy. And that’s two pieces less than the ginormo spooky bowlful we still have to go through. If they’d have taken the rest, I’d have probably signed over the deed.

I guess what I’m saying is: hey, we’ve got candy. Who wants some?

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