(An extended version of this post originally appeared on Nov. 2, 2002 in The Saratogian)
What a sad sign I saw on my morning walk: mini Snickers and Crunch bars still in their packages, one here along the sidewalk, another near the curb, one nestled in fallen leaves beneath a shrub, little lost treasures no doubt dropped by careless trick-or-treaters, strewn about like chocolate-covered, plastic-coated seeds.
The richest and fattest country in the world thinly disguises its children and sends them door-to-door to beg for candy. You can’t beat it.
Of the few good reasons for having children, #1 is so you can steal the dark chocolate and coconut from their Halloween bag without them minding or, if necessary, without them knowing.
My kids are at that touchy in-between age – young enough to want candy, but too old to look cute in a costume. When both decided not to go trick-or-treating, I panicked.
Would I be reduced to lurking in alleys, snatching pillow cases from pint-size princesses to satisfy my mounting Mounds mania? Of course not. I would wear a white jacket, carry a clipboard and claim to be the City Department of Public Safety’s Candy Inspector.
Excuse me, little boy, but there may be a pin in that Almond Joy. I’m afraid I’ll need to take it for closer examination. Better hand over that Kit Kat, too. Can’t be too careful…
When I was a kid (has ever a more scintillating opening line been uttered?), mothers packed Halloween goody bags and the only pins you worried about were the ones connecting your mittens to your sleeves. My brother and I would dump our hard-earned stash on the table to count, trade and pig out, and my father would maul the haul for his cut.
“What?” he’d say. “You think food, shelter, clothing and unsolicited advice are free?”
This was our introduction to taxation. Same thing used to happen at restaurants when, for dessert, my brother would order a scoop of chocolate ice cream and I would order vanilla, and my father would lop off half from each dish and proclaim it his “tax.”
My father should feel guilty, but he’s too busy thinking he’s hilarious. Guilt is the gift for my generation of parents.