It’s Halloween Eve. Who are my husband and I thinking about? Well, the little trick-or-treating children, of course.
“We need to get them some Three Musketeers bars,” I say, scooping up a big package.
“No, they love Almond Joys,” my husband says.
He adds these very shitty candies, which I am sure the little children will hate, to our basket. We’re foraging in the aisles of our nearby grocery store, which is a blight on stores everywhere. Why can’t they buy milk that didn’t expire yesterday? Why do their fruits and vegetables look like they rotted last week? Oh, and as long as we’re talking about Halloween candy, why do they have it spread among three different locations? Haven’t they ever heard of efficiency?
“Hershey’s kisses,” my husband says, dumping them in the basket. He loves Hershey’s kisses. He doesn’t care about the little children the way I do. He just wants to gorge on his favorite candies, since he knows we don’t get that many little trick-or-treaters at our house. “Where are the Sweet Tarts?”
“The little children hate Sweet Tarts,” I announce. “They need more nutrition than that. Like peanut butter cups.”
Peanut butter is very healthy. Peanut butter cups are wonderful. When our kids used to go out trick-or-treating years ago, I’d declare they’d eaten too much candy already and would send them to bed. Then, I’d dive into their bags. “You did that?” our twenty-something daughter asked last year, appalled. “You ate our candy when we were children?”
“Just some of it,” I told her. “Just the good stuff. I didn’t want you to ruin your teeth.”
Oh, but now she and her brother have gone and grown up and deserted their parents. My husband and I have to fend for ourselves. What are we going to do — go door-to-door ourselves, assuring the homeowners we’re only disguised as creaky, middleaged people? No, we have to buy our own candy, like responsible adults.
“You know what you and I do every year?” my husband asks, while we wait at the cash register. “We each give the kids the candy the other likes, so we’ll have more of our own left.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say. “I don’t know about you, but I just care about the little children.”
I take the checkout clerk to task for his grocery store’s sad inability to carry candy corn, the staple of my childhood Halloweens. He tells me they’re on yet another aisle, and I race there to score a bag. Candy corn is practically a vegetable, just like carrot cake.
On the way out to the car, my husband and I elbow each other. I can’t believe the slop, the swill he’s bought for the little children, I tell him. Frankly, I doubt we can give the stuff away. He’s going to have to make a pig of himself tomorrow night, after we’ve doused the lights and turned to our individual stashes. Three Musketeers, Mars bars, candy corn, peanut butter cups; I’m anticipating a sugar coma.
If we get too many trick-or-treaters, what are we going to do? Maybe we can refuse to give candy to any kid in a Sarah Palin costume or any other trampy little Republican getup. We have standards.
Anyway, for once, we’re organized. I already know what we’re having for dinner tomorrow night. Now, that’s really scary.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)