I live in a quiet neighborhood in Northfield. This fall I had an opportunity to greet numerous ghouls and goblins at my front door. But let’s forget about the politicians for a bit and talk about the trick-or-treaters who came by on Halloween.

The night started out normally enough. I had purchased a mask, put up some orange lights and filled a large bowl of candy for the kids. By 5:30, they started arriving, one and two at a time.

It didn’t take long to determine that I had the trick-or-treat gold standard of candy, in the form of Gummy Bears. Back in the day, the Holy Grail of Trick-or-Treating was a full-sized bar of chocolate; but this was a rare, coveted treat. I remember war stories of children going to houses that would give out apples, raisins, and even balls of popcorn. Once, when my kids were young, one of my sons emptied out his booty on the floor after a night of costumed foraging, and there was a tea bag among his stash.

This year, I purchased a mix of chocolate bars, peanut butter cups and other candy including small, individual bags of Gummy Bears. It quickly became apparent that all of my visitors wanted this last treat. Badly. When one girl saw there were Gummy Bears she started digging into the bowl like she was burrowing for truffles.

“I want Gummy Bears!” she screamed.

“I gave you Gummy Bears,” I responded.

She wanted more, and started grabbing all she could find.

I am a college-educated, mature adult. She was a little trick-or-treater dressed (deceptively) as an angel who probably loved ponies and had a crush on a third grade classmate. I know I should have risen above the fray, but I couldn’t. There was a limited amount of candy; and it had to last the whole evening.

For several minutes I bobbed and weaved, blocking her hand from the bowl like an experienced boxer. She quit trying, and we locked eyes. Suddenly the imp snatched a bunch of Gummy Bears and sprinted across the lawn. Chasing her down yelling, “Give me back my Gummy Bears!” was not the first thing on my mind. But it was a close second. Then I saw Olaf, the snowman from Frozen, coming towards the door, the theme to the movie started playing in my head, and I decided to Let it Go.

Soon, all heck broke loose. While saying goodbye to Batman and a cross-eyed dinosaur, I looked down the street and saw a mob leaving the neighbor’s house and heading my way. I heard one kid who had just been to my house say that I had Gummy Bears, and the mob quickly picked up the pace. I closed the door and immediately started weeding all of the Gummy Bears out of the bowl so that I didn’t have a full-blown melee on my hands. Looking around for a place to hide them, I stuffed the candy between the cushions of the sofa.

The first child to arrive had a box for UNICEF. I wasn’t prepared for this situation, so I invited him into the living room to look around for change, and then turned to deal with the rest of the crowd. The money collector reached between the seat cushions and shrieked “Gummy Bears!” and the pack of anonymous juveniles on the stoop pushed by me to share in his windfall. Eventually, I was able to usher them all out of the house.

Before I had a chance to close the door, an older girl, probably 14 or 15 years old, appeared. She was not in costume and made no effort at being festive, but she held open a pillowcase clearly hoping for some loot. “Whatcha got?” she asked.

“Candy,” I said. “Aren’t you supposed to say something?” I inquired, hoping that at least she would go through the motions.

“Yeah, give me couple of each kind.”

After many more trick-or-treaters, my candy supply was running low. I answered the door for a lumberjack, who was escorted by his father, gave him some treats, and asked “dad” if he wanted some candy, too. “Sure,” he said. How was I to know this guy had hands the size of Kareem Abdul Jabbar? He reached into the bowl and single-handedly took most of the rest of the candy.

It was just as well; it was getting late. I decided to call it a night. As I was cleaning up, I saw a small bag of candy on the floor. It was a package of Gummy Bears, and I decided to see what the big deal was all about. Before I had a chance to eat them, I heard a knock. I opened the door and gave the Gummy Bears to a pirate.

Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.

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