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"I'll Tell You
What to Do With That Candy"
mind matters
November 1, 2002
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October 31 is one huge candy exchange, in which we all lose.

We buy gobs of the stuff, but what we really want is to give it all away. Piled high in plastic bowls, we hold them at arm's length as if feeding squirrels. Children in their costumes come to the door and reach with anxious fingers, noisily transferring foodstuffs from your baskets to theirs. They leave with more, and you have less. This is what we want. Let the game begin!

A few hours later, your kids storm home. They throw their spoils onto the table, squealing with excitement. Look at what I got! Remember that lady who told us to take a whole handful! Hey, I'll trade you my licorice for two of the Bottle Caps. In the midst of the frenzy you snatch one of your favorites, pop it into your mouth. They pout and start hording, but you just laugh. You know where they live.

Meanwhile, your giveaway basket is still half full. You bought candy you don't like, hoping to prevent your mouth from intercepting it early. Congratulations, you succeeded, but it's not early any more. The trick-or-treaters are gone and the candy isn't. You don't want it, don't need it, and don't like it, but it's there. Might as well eat some.

Your house is infested with treats. You're the exterminator. You can't throw candy away, that's wrong. You can't steal from the kids, that's wrong. You shouldn't eat it, but somehow that seems the lesser evil. Now take your frustration out on the kids. Ration their intake, force them to ingest it all patiently, slowly, over several weeks. They think you're mean and unfair.

Admit it, you're a lousy exterminator. Eat from the leftover bowl.

November 1 is a day of charity. Fill your pockets and purse, and bring leftovers to the office. Put them in a huge bowl, or on the kitchen counter, or at the front desk for the receptionist to give away. Drop pieces on your co-workers' chairs. In fact, maybe you could-- oh, I'm sorry, but your colleagues with extra candy beat you to it. Your chair is covered. Go ahead and eat some. Drop the rest into a drawer.

After work you're meeting friends. Share Halloween stories, casually remember the candy in your pockets and purse. Push it on them. If they refuse, actually put the candy in their hands, in their shirt pockets. They'll laugh at your persistence. Hoorah! You lightened your load by four pieces. Only three remain on your person.... Aw, heck with it. Put them all in your mouth.

At home, trash cans are filled with colorful wrappers. Your kids aren't rationing. They're disobeying you. You're forced to confiscate their bounty and hide it in your bedroom. There it sits, taunting you in a plastic pumpkin with a crooked smile. At midnight you sneak something with peanuts into your mouth, hoping the kids won't notice. Then eat something you like.

November 2 is unseasonably hot. The candy you left in your car overnight melted into a globular mess. Recite a quiet prayer of thanks, and throw the mess away. Lick chocolate from your fingers. It makes you hungry. Drive to the market for protein bars. Candy corn is on sale, discounted eighty percent. Resist. Buy only protein bars. At work, put them in your desk drawer. Discover the candy you left there yesterday. Eat it.

Many days pass, and finally it's over. November 10. The candy and pumpkins are gone. The costumes are in the closet. Halloween is a distant ache, like a bad dream. You made it, you survived. What's more, there's not a single orange decoration anywhere.

Just red and green.

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Copyright 2002 Seth Maislin


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