Whoppers

It’s important to me to be considered a “good” house.

At the entrance to my neighborhood is a small seventies-era split-level home. It’s not well kept: over-grown bushes, peeling paint and an eroded set-back—that eight-foot parking strip between the street and the lawn in rural neighborhoods like mine. There are no curbs denoting the start of the property, just that section of roadway that the homeowner is expected to maintain.

At some houses, the set-back is smooth as a parking lot, freshly top-coated and always swept clean. At other houses, it’s simply rutted dirt and gravel. This house has the rutted variety. Clunker cars, two at a time, occupy most of the set-back. For Sale signs adorn the passenger-side window, the side facing the street, as the cars are always parked facing the wrong direction.

About the residents, rumors abound. A youngish couple, childless until lately, who keep to themselves. They don’t seem to work except some light mechanic duties on the cars they sell—brake jobs mostly, maybe some tinkering beneath the hood. Day-traders is a common occupational guess. Drug-dealers comes up now and again. Trust-fund is what I think.

They are a “good” house. The best in the neighborhood. Each Halloween, they give out full-sized candy bars, the ones you get at the check-out counter, to all of the kids who come by for treats.

My house: We’re good, but not as good as the drug-dealers. Chocolate is mandatory of course, as well as some suckers for the little kids. Since Halloween is the most important holiday of the year, it’s crucial that we have something for everyone. This year we bought a bag of Tootsie Pops and a couple of variety packs of candy. Our eighteen-inch silver serving bowl is filled with Snickers Bars, Three Musketeers, Milky Ways, Twix, Kit Kats and Whoppers.

Abundance matters. “Take two or three” is what I say as the kids mumble “trick or treat” or “Happy Halloween.” And their parents, if present, say “Oh no, only take one!”

I encourage handfuls; we bought way too much candy this year. But Sophie, my daughter, sees it differently. This is her first Halloween to skip trick or treating. She’s hoping for lots of leftovers.

My neighborhood has changed. The first Halloween we celebrated here—with three-year-old Sophie and our two-month old son, Eli—was a lonely night. Maybe one in six houses were open for business, giving out candy, the rest were dark. A handful of kids stopped by my house to trick or treat.

But over the years, the retirees who populated our neighborhood continued to age and have either moved on to retirement communities or to the great beyond. The houses all have children now. Our teenagers are the oldest kids in the neighborhood.

As the evening progresses, Sophie and I the share the fifties-era glider on our front porch and argue about how much is the right amount to glide. I like minimal movement, a leisurely two-inch swing, whereas Sophie opts for seasickness. With the temperature dipping low in the forties, we sit beneath the ceiling fan and freeze. Five years ago, the pull-chain switch that controls the fan stopped working. If the light is on, the fan is too. And since it’s Halloween night, the light is on.

Mid-way through the night, the bowl becomes disproportionately heavy with Whoppers. The trick or treaters are dodging them. They don’t know what the hell they are. Sophie and I don’t really like Whoppers either, and we’re dismayed by the disappearance of our precious candy bars.

I fish the Whoopers from the bottom of the bowl and position them all on top of the candy. They do a good job of hiding the Snickers, Milky Ways and Three Musketeers. The Twix and the Kit Kats, being the best, are long gone. The night is winding down, the flow more sporadic. Mostly what’s left now are the older kids—young teens like Eli and his friend Jonah. Those two donned furry bear-heads and took off ninety-minutes ago. They’ll return with pillowcases filled with candy, enough to eat for months, but will only last a week or two. They’ll try to hit the day-trader house twice.

The late arrivals grab fistfuls of candy. To them, everything left is fair game. They know that the smaller kids are home assessing their haul. Each handful is mostly Whoppers. Our strategy has worked. The good stuff is left for Sophie and me.

IMG_8497

A flaming pumpkin at a Halloween after-party.

 

24 thoughts on “Whoppers

  1. Ha! I put mine outside the front door with a big sign that said “Take a big handful!” because I didn’t feel like People-ing but I don’t want to egged either. I could hear the parents, “Jack! Jack, I said one piece!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At our house, we give out a mix of stuff. A little bit of candy, and then some toys: super balls, and the surprising hit last year and this: bubbles! I would never have anticipated that middle school boys would like them “Cool, Bubbles!”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “My house: We’re good, but not as good as the drug-dealers.” Hahaha! I laughed out loud. What happened to the notion about the trust fund? Hahaha….
    Our neighborhood is ridiculous, and I believe it always has been. It is the neighborhood that kids get dropped off to get their Halloween spoils. So, I go for the monster (not too expensive) bag of candy and try to disperse one bag of chocolate and two bags of lollipops throughout. We leave the bowl on a card table out front on the street as the whole family goes treating. We have new neighbors – they do not have kids and want to appear as “the good house.” We started the night there, and they had one regular sized popcorn bowl of the ginormous candy and one bowl for “anyone with allergies.” Newbies. I don’t think they will do that again. Or maybe they will always try to be the cool house. I am okay with my ginormous (not too expensive) candy and will let my kids celebrate in the new neighbors “candy coolness.”

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  4. We just had our first Halloween in our new house. I was away on business but Gigi and Not-Tom-Brady were here excited to be “the good house”. Only one family came by! Not a total loss, at least now they have a ton of candy right? Side note: I work from home and Not-Tom-Brady is a stay at home dad.. we are new to the neighborhood and we are curious if the neighborhood thinks we are day trading drug dealers 😉

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    • Undoubtedly they’re talking about you – that’s how neighborhoods are. So much easier (but not as fun) to just ask. It’s rewarding when you’re the good house and there’s a bunch of leftovers. Imagine if you had just bought bags of dum dums. You’d have to go sell them all to the dentist (at least that’s what people do here with their left over crap).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes we got the good stuff so that the leftovers would be a joy, not a buzz kill.. haha. Oh we also have amazon boxes arriving at our house almost daily because I’m hooked on Amazon prime… probably confusing the neighbors even more. Who knew I could be so mysterious!

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