It was Halloween night and the ambience was perfect. The air had just a nip of cold in it and a low, ominous fog crawled across the land. 

The pickings were bountiful that night. My friends and I started early, plotting a course across a dozen neighborhoods, knocking on door after door and fattening our bags with sweet plunder. 

Ah, night of all nights of the year. A spirit of generosity was on the wind as the good people of Waterville’s north end forked over their tributes of Snickers, Charleston Chews, Zots, Zagnuts, Milk Duds, Lemonheads, Double Bubble chewing gum, Kit Kats, squirrel nuts, Swedish fish and individually wrapped popcorn balls. 

It was night of abundance and our cups flowethed over. 

Then came the betrayal. 

I didn’t realize it until much later, but as we hiked across all those miles, my very best friend had cut a tiny corner of the pillow case I’d been using to haul my Halloween loot. In a slow but steady trickle, candy fell from my bag and magically ended up in his. 

It was a masterful stroke, really. Even as I discovered the treachery, what could be done about it?  I had been outwitted by a smarter kid who even now had a mouthful of nonpareils that should have been mine and I had no recourse at all. On Halloween night, the rules are that there ain’t no rules. 

Except, you know. This year. This year, there are nothing BUT rules as the adult population frets over COVID-19 and unsettling new concepts such as social distancing, contact tracing, sheltering in place, personal protection equipment and other grim matters. 

So, what’s to be done, I ask you? It’s Halloween and either the kids get candy, or we all spend the rest of autumn cleaning soap and egg and toilet paper off our homes. Possibly Silly String, as well, and that stuff has to be sandblasted. 

So in the spirit of saving Halloween for all, I spent a solid minute and a half this afternoon ruminating over how to get candy to the kids in this, the wretched New Normal. 

THE NEVER ENDING CURVE: In this scheme, we tell the kids that we have plenty of candy for them, oh yes! And we’re talking the good stuff here: full-sized Milky Way bars, entire bags of M&Ms with peanuts, jumbo Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joy as a big as your arm . . . We just can’t WAIT to give away all that candy, we tell them, but we can’t do it until the mysterious Candy Curve is flattened. Shouldn’t take long, we promise. Six weeks at the most. And then when those six weeks pass, no matter what the curve is actually doing, we hit them with the hard news. Sorry, wee ones. The curve is not as flat as we’d like it. We’re going to have to give it another six weeks. Three months at the most. But after that, you’ll have your candy. At which point, we’ll all slip into another room and giggle helplessly because we KNOW those kids ain’t getting no candy in three months. 

MacGYVER THAT ACTION: There’s some guy somewhere who has devised a system wherein he can deliver candy to the young folk through a PVC pipe lashed to his railing or some such. That’s pretty simple and it honors the sacred 6-foot rule, but I just don’t see any hilarity in it, so we’re moving on. Several other people have suggested that candy be distributed via slingshot, catapult or trebuchet. This annoys me a little because I have to Google image search “trebuchet” to see what it is . . . stand by . . . page is loading . . . Oh, heck yes! That will work! In fact, if you build one of these suckers in your back yard, you could deliver candy to kids in neighborhoods a county away. Or, you know. You could deliver all that expensive candy right into the Androscoggin River. I mean, seriously, how do you aim those things? 

 

THE SWEET HALLOWEEN WITCH: Nancy Townsend Johnson of Dixfield has the following suggestion: “I think parents should tell the kids that this year they’re getting their candy from the Sweet Halloween Witch, who lives on the Big Rock Candy Mountain. The kids can leave their treat buckets out and in the morning they will be magically filled with candy.” It’s a fine idea, which can be altered in various fun and exciting ways by each community. Here in Lewiston, for instance, we can tell them that the Sweet Halloween Witch lives in Kennedy Park. Which, now that I think of it, I believe is true. She just has a different job the rest of the year.

WHO WANTS TO BE A NARCOTICS COLLECTION TECHNICIAN: A few suggested that the kids can go trick-or-treating; they just have to wear hazardous material suits. I suppose that would work, but it would mean that every kid in the Greater Lewiston-Auburn Area would be going as a Maine Drug Enforcement Agency methamphetamine lab investigator this year. Which is still better than most outfits your mom would come up with for you. Seriously, little mister. Do you really want to be My Little Pony a third year in a row? 

HALLOWEEN UPHILL BOTH WAYS: There’s always the option of keeping all that delicious candy for yourself and, when the children complain about it, you go ahead and tell them how, when you were a kid, there was no time for silly things like Halloween because you were too busy working 14 hours a day in the potato fields and going to school in that one-room schoolhouse heated only by a chunk of hot brick wrapped in flannel. The kids won’t believe you, but they’ll be so put off by your boring stories, they’ll run away at once, leaving you with that small mountain of Payday bars all to yourself. 

No matter how you slice it, this Halloween is a stone cold bummer for kids, and especially for those who don’t have a lot of Halloween nights under their belts. Kids deserve to know the creepy joy of wandering through an autumn night in search of treasures offered from strangers with jack-o’-lanterns grinning toothily from their porch steps. Kids need to know the tooth-rotting high of seeing a fat Chunky bar fall into their bags and the devastating low when they’re given an old squishy apple or some other “healthy alternative” instead. 

I sincerely hope they manage to find some brand of fun in this joy-busting New Normal, and I honestly pray that their sacks are full at the end of the night. 

Just keep your mitts off my nonpareils, Jack. Those suckers are mine.

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