Halloween is here again. That’s great, because I love candy. I don’t necessarily buy it for the trick-or-treaters. We usually never get any anyway, but I pretend we will and buy mounds of it knowing I will probably have to pick up the slack and eat it myself. I also like to wait until after Halloween and buy it when it goes on sale. The same goes for Easter, by the way.
So I was reminiscing the other night about the days of youth when I still went trick-or-treating. Back in those days, people would still make and give out homemade candy and treats like caramel apples, fudge, cookies, etc. Today if you do that, the police come and raid your house with a search warrant and accuse you of trying to run a business without a license and poisoning children.
A few people also like to make popcorn balls. To this day, I have no idea why everyone loved them so much, but they did. Word would spread like wildfire around the neighborhood that such and such a house was giving out popcorn balls. And most trick-or-treaters would make a beeline to that house before they ran out.
I would make a beeline too, only in the opposite direction, because I didn’t want a gooey, messy popcorn ball that I didn’t care for anyway rolling around in my candy sack. I always wanted to give it away, but felt the other kids would think me an idiot for doing so.
So I waited until well after we were home and quietly disposed of the popcorn ball in the middle of the night, hoping no one would catch me and send me to a psychiatrist.
There was one neighbor in particular who took an unusual approach to Halloween. He didn’t give out popcorn balls (thank God) or regular candy. He gave out buttons. Yes, buttons.
Every year it was the same thing. His light would be on (the sign that you could approach the house safely) and we would knock on the door. He would answer and invite us into his living room. Then he would go into a short story about how poor he was and how he was sorry that he couldn’t afford to buy any candy to give to us, but he did have some wonderful buttons we could have if we wanted.
We would stand there incredulous, staring at the large bowl of buttons on the coffee table. We didn’t want to embarrass him, so we each took a turn grabbing a large handful of buttons and dropped them into our sack, thanked him and left. And then we knew what it was like to be Charlie Brown at Christmas.
I don’t know to this day if he was really that poor, a practical joker or rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and didn’t want to let on that he was loaded. Anyway, it was always strange to be going through your sack of leftover candy and find some buttons mixed in there a few days later.
Now that I’m on the other end of trick-or-treating and give out the candy, I’ve decided to get into the Halloween spirit and wear a costume too. I think this year I’ll dress up as the national debt. I don’t know anything scarier than that.
Congratulations to this week’s winner, Sarah Bolyard. She correctly guessed that “30 = D. in the M. of S.” was “30 = Days in the Month of September.” The word “days” was listed in last week’s column.
Here is next week’s puzzle: “D. = the O. of N.” As usual, at least one of the words is included somewhere in the column. If you think you know the answer, submit your answer at AdVantageNews.com, under the Contests tab, click “Off the Top of My Head Answer” or call the AdVantage News answer line at (888) 532-4441 before noon on Tuesday.
Winners may choose a free lube and oil change from Drake Tire, a $26 value; or a $20 gift certificate to Tony’s Restaurant in downtown Alton, Gentelin’s or Jimmy the Greek’s on Broadway in Alton.
Winners will be notified by telephone on Tuesday and must pick up their prize at AdVantage News before 4 p.m.
Also don’t forget that I am available for public speaking engagements!
Any comments and suggestions, helpful or unhelpful, may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.