Sunday, October 31, 2010

180. I Choose Candy

So, unfortunately, I have become one of Those Mothers. You know, the ones who wait until the very last second to buy the Halloween candy because of their (in my case, justified) fear that they will eat all the candy themselves?

Last night, The Husband and I had the same conversation we have every October 30th. It went something like this:

The Husband: Did you buy Halloween candy yet?
Me: No. And why is it my job anyway? You can’t drive to Target?
TH: Oh, come on, don’t be ridiculous! You know I’d buy the wrong kind and then you’d be mad.

It’s true: he would buy the wrong kind. I drive to Target and am immediately sorry—there is not a parking place to be had. Uh-oh. When I finally do park on top of someone else’s car, I walk in and realize that every customer in the store is doing what I’m doing: panicking. Moms and dads and toddlers and babies and grandmas and teen-agers and twenty-somethings—everyone is here and accounted for, shoving each other out of the way in a futile attempt to locate the “best” costume or the “best” candy. It is October 30th; let’s not fool ourselves, there is no “best” left. There is not even a “second-best” or “eight-best” or “fifteenth-best”: no. There is only worst.

I maneuver past a man holding what looks like a giant beetle-goat-hybrid costume (“Sweetheart, they’re out of StarWars Luke Skywalker costumes for Jacob, can he be a beetle-goat-hybrid instead?”). I stare at the vacant shelves in disbelief—is this the first sign of the Apocalypse?

The next aisle over, I find the distinctly unappetizing leftover candies, the ones No One Else Wanted. There are a few ripped jumbo bags of Easter Skittles (I am well-aware that that is the wrong holiday), some sort of generic brand licorice that is clearly a knock-off of “Good-N-Plenty” (“Great-N-Abundant”), Organic pepper-flavored gummy balls (not surprisingly, there are several bags of these languishing on the shelf), some sad little mini chocolate bars with images of skeletons wearing devil costumes, and an abandoned bag of pretzels. As I consider the bag of pretzels, a woman clutching a tree costume grabs them out from under me.

Sigh. What am I going to do?

Target has never let me down before. I push my way through the hordes and back to the front of the store. I quietly ask to speak to a manager. A small boy all of fourteen years old steps forward and says politely, “I’m Toby, the week-end evening Shift Manager,” his voice has not changed yet, it’s high and squeaky and sounds like my six-year-old’s voice, “how can I help you, m’am?”

I explain my situation (summed up in four words: “desperation; name-brand candy”) and he nods sympathetically. Then he turns to a tiny girl who I assume must be his little sister and says, “Heather? Can you radio back to Carl and find out what’s going on with remaining pre-packaged candy in Pumpkin-Land?”

I’m liking Toby more by the minute. After a brief pow-wow with Heather about the crisis that they are now referring to as the Candy Situation, I’m whisked away to some secret back warehouse room entrance. I don’t know if this is a good idea. It’s kind of like seeing Mickey Mouse take his giant (fake) head off: disconcerting. Maybe we should forget about Halloween this year and turn all our house lights off and pretend we’re not home? Could we get away with that, or would genius neighborhood children see through our flimsy sham and retaliate by toilet-papering our house?

Carl, in all his pimply glory, meets us at the door. Toby leans in and says Something Important to Carl, who now looks very somber and serious. Toby turns back to me, hands me a coupon for 20% off and a free popcorn at their snack bar, and says apologetically, “I’m so very sorry for the inconvenience. Carl here has located a last shipment of a few boxes of candy; I hope you’ll find what you’re looking for there.” He smiles, and I notice he has what looks like a Reese’s Piece stuck in his braces.

“Thank you, Toby,” I murmur admiringly. Carl leads me back to the main receiving area, which is stacked full of cardboard boxes. We come upon some boxes that someone (Carl?) has hastily torn open, and there—lo and behold—are several giant bags of Peanut M&M’s and KitKat’s tumbling out. I gasp. It’s like Target had reserved special boxes of candy with the words “MOV’s Favorites—hold thru Sat!” emblazoned on the front.

Carl shakes his head. “I am so sorry, m’am, this is absolutely all we have left. I hate to say it, and don’t take it the wrong way, but maybe next year you might want to consider shopping for your candy a little bit sooner than October 30th…….. say, maybe August or September so you’d have the best selec…..”

I cut him off. “Carl, I appreciate your concern, but this is perfect. I’ll take all the M&M’s and KitKat’s you have.”

After I pay, I drive my SUV around to the back loading dock. Carl meets me at the curb with ten enormous boxes that could each fit a couch. I guess I’m all set for next Halloween, too.

("Mother Of Vampires")

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