By June Mathews
Used to be we’d have 40 or 50 kids ring our doorbell on Halloween night. But so many of the neighborhood kids have grown up and moved away, we now do good to have a dozen. Mama, on the other hand, always has scads of trick-or-treaters. So for the past several years, Jimmie and I have spent the evening helping dole out candy at her house.
The first time we weren’t going to be home on Halloween, I felt a twinge of guilt about leaving our dwindling parade of tricksters treatless. So I naively left a huge bowlful of candy on a plant stand by the door with a sign taped to it saying, “Help yourself to a few pieces of candy.”
The honor system worked quite well until some unsupervised older kids came along. Word around the ‘hood had it that a sticky-fingered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle emptied the candy bowl into a king-size pillowcase and hightailed it up the street with a drag queen. Luckily, they left my rather expensive piece of Tupperware behind.
So almost every Halloween since, we’ve simply turned off the porch light when we leave home, and let it go at that. The one exception was a few years ago, when I saw a potential advantage to the inherent failures of the honor system. All I needed was one good thief.
You see, at an auction a while back, a seller put up a huge boxful of still-in-the-package Groucho glasses, those plastic spectacles with a nose and mustache attached. With no opening bid forthcoming, he offered to sell them two for a dollar but still had no takers. So halfway feeling sorry for the guy and thinking the glasses might make for some laughs at the office Halloween party, I told him I’d take five deals.
“Tell you what, lady,” he said, “give me ten dollars, and you can have the whole box.”
Now I’m a sucker for a bargain, and that big box was brimming. Even with my limited mathematical acuity, I realized I’d be paying only pennies per unit. So I forked over the cash.
Then I realized there were probably 70 or 80 units in the box. “What in the world am I going to do with all these things?” I asked Jimmie. He just laughed.
So I handed them out every chance I got but really, how many chances does one get to share an overabundance of Groucho glasses? It’s not like they’re appropriate for just any occasion. But it seemed no matter how many I gave away, the box remained as full as ever.
One day, after tripping over the box in the basement for the umpteenth time, it dawned on me that we might still have a thief in the neighborhood willing to help me out. So the next Halloween, I stuffed the biggest basket I could find full of Groucho glasses, taped a sign on the handle that said, “Take all you want!” and placed it on the front porch. As we headed to Mama’s, I felt confident that the doggone things were out of my life – and basement – forever.
But no such luck. Around 9 o’clock, we returned home to an untouched basket of Groucho glasses. I even left them out overnight in case any potential trick-or-treating thieves might simply be running behind. The next morning, however, the basket and its contents remained.
Months later, I finally rid myself of the glasses by donating them to a local thrift store, and while buying them ultimately proved a waste money-wise, I learned two valuable lessons. First of all, don’t expect thieves to steal what you want them to steal. That’s really not considered stealing and, therefore, doesn’t fall within their job d June Mathews at email@example.com.