The only thing I like about Halloween is that it marks the start of my favorite time of year. I love the late fall—for what it’s worth in Florida—and I’ve always been more of a Thanksgiving and Christmas girl.
I didn’t mind Halloween when we were in the military and lived on base, because the trick-or-treating there was very tightly controlled, allowed only during a two hour window. They never allowed it to run late enough that with each passing hour, the trick-or-treaters grew bigger and older and even scarier than me.
With the two hour limit on the Air Force base, I usually didn’t have to worry about running out of candy, but still I couldn’t resist rationing the stuff. “Here’s a Tootsie Roll for you, a Hershey’s Kiss for you, and for you I have a lollipop. See you next year!” One year, after I dropped a single piece of candy into a teenage girl’s pillowcase, she mouthed off at me with, “Wow! One whole piece of candy! Whoo-pee!” Since I didn’t wake up the next morning to find the car egged and toilet-papered, I felt I got off lightly.
And then there was the little girl who came to the door with her mother, who was pushing a baby in a baby stroller. The girl had her own pumpkin bucket, and another sat on the hood of the stroller. After I dropped the candy into her pumpkin bucket, she said, “You have to give some to the baby, too!”
What a scam! That baby wasn’t even teething yet, and by the time he was old enough to eat the candy, it’d be well past its expiration date. At the time, my oldest son and daughter were toddlers and not old enough for trick-or-treating, while Mr. Lucky was in the living room, slouched on the sofa with the remote control clenched in his hand. He didn’t have to do anything except wait for the two hour limit to expire, so he could eat whatever was left over.
The mother stood behind the stroller, staring me down and daring me to challenge her in front of her children. Back in those days, I was still a doormat, and since this was military housing, for all I knew her husband outranked mine. Without a word I dropped the candy into the pumpkin bucket on the stroller hood, biting my tongue to keep from saying, “Tell your husband he’s welcome.”
Indeed, when I closed the door, I told Mr. Lucky about the little girl exhorting me to give candy to her newborn sibling, and he said, “Ha! No way it’s for the baby—it’s for their dad. Trust me, he’s sitting at home in front of the TV this very moment, waiting to collect his share.”
Just like Mr. Lucky.
Call me neurotic; I know my insistence on rationing the candy is downright irrational. I tell myself I’m only trying to make it last, so everyone who rings the bell will get something. But no matter how much we stockpile, I always worry about running out after twenty minutes. Mind you, I'm also the same person who thinks half a tank of gas is as good as empty.
Mr. Lucky, on the other hand, will lavish the trick-or-treaters with giant fistfuls of sweets, like a returning conqueror flinging spoils to the cheering masses as he rides by in his chariot. He also believes in holding back at least one bag of candy for himself.
One year I did give a few extra pieces to a little girl simply because I thought her costume was so original and amusing. She wore a pair of goggles and an empty toilet paper roll attached to her nose. When I asked what she was supposed to be, she replied, “I’m an aardvark!”
Kids, that’s how you get more candy from grumpy, tight-fisted Mrs. Lingefelt.
I don’t understand myself. You’d think I’d be more excited about this whole business of dressing up in freaky outfits, scaring the hell out of people and shaking them down for chocolate.
After all, it’s what I do every day.