Thursday, November 19, 2009

How To Assemble a Treadmill in 75 easy steps

Somehow I've gotten behind in the blog posting again. Still, I like the excuse of not having enough time better than not having anything to say. There's a few blogs I want to write, the problem is finding time to do them.

If you read my last post, I left off with the treadmill and assorted parts downstairs but nothing yet assembled. It wasn't going to be of much use to anyone until I got the thing put together. I picked up the user's manual.

My first indication of trouble was when I saw it was 35 pages divided into chapters, complete with a table of contents. But instructions are what I live for, which you would know if you've ever read my "Show Your Colors" entry.

I must admit I did have a little trepidation when I started to read. I am a firm believer in at least skimming over the whole manual (as directed) before attempting to complete any of the steps. Too many times I've gotten to a critical juncture in a process with nasty consequences because I failed to read all the instructions first.

My first sign of trouble was when I read step 21 on page 4 in the "Important Precautions" section. This step reads as follows;
"Do not attempt to raise, lower, or move the treadmill until it is properly assembled.”

Oops. If you have been reading my last few posts, you will know this treadmill has most definitely been raised, lowered, and moved extensively getting it downstairs and it most definitely HAS NOT yet been assembled properly or otherwise.

Excuse me, but what a dumb thing to put in step 21 on page 4! I do try to read manuals before assembly, but I don't always read manuals before transporting the goods to their destination. If they were really serious about people following this instruction they should have posted it in big bold letters on some fluorescent colored paper so you'd notice it right away when opening the box. You don’t put things like that on page 4, step 21.

I consoled myself with the fact that there didn't appear to be any damage to the treadmill and even if there had been it was way too late to do anything about it. Besides, the thing would have been that much heavier with all the attachments and would have been an extremely tight squeeze getting down our narrow stairway and even narrower hallway.

Before getting to step 21, I had already read step 12 which said, "Use only a single-outlet surge suppressor that meets all of the specifications described on page 12". I realized no one would be using the treadmill until I could get to Lowe's. We were fresh out of single-outlet surge suppressors meeting the specifications on page 12, and I wasn't going to power the thing up without proper surge suppression.

On to Page 5 - Before You Begin, "For your benefit, read this manual carefully before using the treadmill." Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah, next page.

"Assembly requires two persons."

"Brian, get down here!" I yelled. My son loves putting things together more than I do. If you know me at all that is really saying something.

"Assembly requires the included hex key and your own Phillips screwdriver, adjustable wrench, rubber mallet (yeah! this was gonna be fun), and scissors."

The Meissner men ventured into the garage to pick-up the required tools. Thus supplied, we moved back downstairs. I turned to Page 7.

Step 1. "Make sure that the power cord is unplugged." DUH! I couldn't plug it in (or wouldn't) until I had the single-outlet surge suppressor meeting the specifications on page 12. I read on, "With the help of a 2nd person, carefully tip the treadmill onto its left side. Partially fold the Frame (56) so that the treadmill is more stable;"

"Ok, Brian, lift." We got it on its side and I folded the aforementioned frame.

I'm still on step 1 by the way. "Remove and discard the two indicated bolts (A) and the shipping bracket (B)." The user's manual included pictures with all the parts they were referring to labeled with letters or numbers. I set Brian to work removing bolts. He immediately started to tighten the bolts rather than remove them.

So we had a quick class in the "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" method. Meaning to tighten things you turn "Right" or clockwise, and to loosen you turn "Left," or counter-clockwise. My son is sharp, he picked up on this right away and started attacking those bolts with reckless abandon.

He sounded so cute when he shouted, "lefty-loosey!" The bolts were pretty secure, especially after he tightened them to begin with, so he also managed some pretty impressive grunts and tongue-biting while he struggled.

While Brian was working on the bolts, I read ahead, still on step 1, “Cut the shipping tie securing the Upright Wire (38) to the Base (83). Locate a tie in the indicated hole in the Base, and use the tie to pull the Upright Wire out of the hole.”

There was an electrical wire hidden inside a metal rail, supposedly to protect it during shipping, which now had to come out so you could use it. There was plastic tie that allowed you to pull the wire out of a very small hole.

Brian got the shipping bracket removed so I was able to pull out the wire. I’m still on step 1 if you’ve forgotten.

“Attach a Base Pad (81) to the Base (83) in the location shown with a #8 X 1” Tek Screw (2) and a Base Pad Spacer (13). Then attach another Base Pad (81) with only a #8 x 1” Tek Screw (2).” So evidently only one side got the Base Pad Spacer. I love instructions but this was getting a little carried away. Nevertheless, I attached the indicated base pads.

Step 2, Yeah! only 70-odd steps more to go. “Remove the 3/8” Nut (8), the 3/8” X 2” Bolt (4), and the shipping bracket (C) from the Base (83). Attach a Wheel (84) with the Bolt and the Nut that you just removed. Do not overtighten the Nut; the Wheel must turn freely. Discard the shipping bracket.”

Brian had more experience removing shipping brackets so I put him on the job. “LEFTY-LOOSEY!” he yelled. That’s my boy! I had to wipe away a brief tear I was that proud of him.

His experience showed, he got the bracket off in no time. I attached the wheel and we had great fun making sure it was in fact spinning freely. It’s the little things in life that make it worth living.

Step 3, (I bet you’re wondering if this will ever get put together) “Identify the Right Upright (78) and the Right Upright Spacer (79), which are marked with stickers. Insert the Upright Wire (38) through the Right Upright Spacer as shown. Set the Right Upright Spacer on the Base (83). Be careful not to pinch the Upright Wire.”

So I located said spacer and fed this wire through another tiny hole, of course being careful not to pinch the wire.

“Have a second person hold the Right Upright (78) near the Base (83). See the inset drawing. Tie the wire tie in the Right Upright securely around the end of the Upright Wire (38). Then, pull the other end of the wire tie until the Upright Wire is routed completely through the Right Upright.”

It was a good thing Brian was helping me. It would have taken a lot longer and I would have gotten a lot madder if I would have done this myself. As much as Brian cannot sit still, ironically, he can be a statue when he needs to hold something. He held the upright rock steady while I fished the wire through another tiny hole, attached this fishing line to it and pulled it up through the upright so I assumed it could then be attached to the control panel at the top of the machine.

All right, I’ll spare you just a few of the grisly details. Steps 4 and 6 were more of the same. We got the electrical wire fished up through the right upright, attached both uprights, and got the treadmill starting to look like it was supposed to.

We finally got to use the rubber mallet. We were both excited about that. There were these plastic caps that fit over the sharp heavy metal ends of the base. Evidently to protect your feet and any other body parts that may come into unfortunate contact with them. We each took turns whacking the plastic caps into place.

Now we had to attach the wire to the handrail assembly. Brian again proved his usefulness. I was amazed again at how I can’t get this kid to sit still in church for 5 seconds but he can stand holding these handrails without moving a muscle.

Step 7. “See the inset drawing. The connectors should slide together easily and snap into place. If they do not, turn one connector and try again. IF THE CONNECTORS ARE NOT CONNECTED PROPERLY, THE CONSOLE MAY BE DAMAGED WHEN THE POWER IS TURNED ON.

That kind of freaked me out. The last thing I wanted was for the thing to be fried as soon as I plugged it in. So I gingerly tried sliding the connectors together. I was dismayed to find out neither way resulted in them sliding together easily. The lighting isn’t very good down in the basement so I was squinting trying to see which way the ends went together.

Finally I decided one way met with less resistance than the other and slid them more forcefully together. There was no reassuring snap into place. I really had to pinch the ends together until I finally heard the satisfying “snap”.

The wire, now connected, could then be placed back into the upright so the handrail assembly could be attached. Brian, the little trooper, hadn’t moved an inch so he was very happy to be able to put the handrails on to the uprights so he could finally relax.

After attaching the handrails, we then had to hook up the console assembly that is attached to the top of the handrail assembly. Step 9 was basically a repeat of step 7 with the baloney about the connectors sliding together easily and clicking into place.

This time there were two connectors, but I was able to see a bit better in this area so I could tell how they went together. I didn’t get the satisfying click from either of these wires, but I gently pushed and pulled on them and they did seem to be locked together, so I called it good.

Step 10 turned out to be the shortest instruction, but the biggest source of grief. “Insert the wires from the console assembly into the handrail assembly. Attach the console assembly to the handrail assembly with four 1/4” X 3/4” Bolts (5). Be careful not to pinch the wires.”

Sounded simple enough, especially after what we had now gone through. I could see where the console was supposed to go and how it fit onto the handrails. The problem was where to stick the two wires. There was all this excess wire and no cavity or holes to stick them into. I couldn’t help but pinch the wires if I couldn’t find out where to put them.

The next several minutes were nothing short of torture. I messed with those wires and repeatedly tried to place the console in such a way as nothing was pinched. I could get one wire squeezed into place and then the other wire would pop out. We almost needed three people to take care of this problem. One to hold the console, and one person on each of the wires.

Finally, with luck more than anything else, I got both sets of wires squeezed into the handrails and the console dropped easily into place. I briefly thought about lifting the console just to make sure no wires were being pinched, but I knew if I did that, those wires would pop out and I’d have to go through the whole process again.

“Get the screwdriver, Brian.” Pinched wires or not, that console was getting secured.

Well, I’d had enough by that time and it was past Brian’s bedtime. Should I stop here and do a part 2 later?

All right, I’ll keep going.

In spite of there being 75 steps, we are almost done with the assembly. The next morning, Brian was in the shower so I enlisted the help of the gorgeous woman I married. Would you believe we are now on step 12? “Raise the Frame (56) to the position shown. Have a second person hold the Frame until the step is completed.”

“Ok honey, I need you to hold this.” Dee complies, and the frame is now upright in the storage/transport position.

“Orient the Storage Latch (53) so that the large barrel and the Latch Knob (54) are in the positions shown. Attach the Latch Bracket (14) and the Storage Latch (53) to the Base (83) with two 3/8” X 2” Bolts (4) and two 3/8” Nuts (8).

Attach the upper end of the Storage Latch (53) to the bracket on the Frame (56) with a 3/8” X 2” Bolt (4) and 3/8” Nut (8). Note: It may be necessary to move the Frame back and forth to align the Storage Latch with the bracket.”

So I located said Storage Latch (53) and began to fiddle with it making sure the right end was up and the holes properly aligned. Dee gave a humongous sigh. She was obviously getting tired of standing there and my facial expressions and obscure mutterings were doing nothing to instill her confidence in my abilities.

Our mornings are chaotic at best making sure all four of us are showered, dressed and made to look presentable to the world at large. Dee really needed to get back to making our middle-school daughter look beautiful and her patience was wearing thin.

After convincing myself I knew what I was doing, I attacked the storage latch with the hex key and bolts. There were three bolts, one at the top and two on the bottom. There was also a 4th bolt on the bottom which did not get tightened as that was for holding the latch in place as you raised and lowered the frame.

There was of course, no way for Dee to know this, so she immediately assumes I haven’t got a clue and exclaims, “You forgot one of the bolts!”

“Which bolt would that be exactly?” I asked. She points with her toe since her hands were busy holding up the frame.

I shouldn’t, but I immediately get defensive at any indication I don’t know exactly what I’m doing. So I was a little miffed as I tried to point out in the instructions that particular bolt was not to be tightened. She looked at me dubiously as if she didn’t believe me which turned up my thermostat a little bit more. She wisely offered no more comment.

“That’s all I needed, thank you very much honey!” Dee looked like she was afraid to let go so I took the frame and demonstrated how to raise and lower it and how the latch locked into place. She experimented with the latch herself and seemed satisfied, whew!

Would you believe we are done? There were an awful lot more instructions, but they were mostly how to operate the treadmill and control panel, various exercise programs and so on.

I made sure the whole family knew it was done but not to plug it in or turn it on until I was able to get the single-outlet surge suppressor meeting all the specifications on page 12.

I got the surge suppressor and we finally were able to power the system up. This was a big deal, we actually had a little father-son ceremony celebrating our achievement. The family agreed that Brian would be the first person to use it as he was such valuable help.

I’m pleased to say everything worked great and we are now on fitness programs. I’m sorry to say that the kids are the only ones who have used it thus far. But we’ve got really good intentions.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Peace At Last

I never got another treater. The good Lord had mercy on me and it was well with my soul.

It took awhile for me to calm down. I jumped out of my skin every time the furnace kicked in. I kept expecting that doorbell to ring at any moment, and I would have to give away one of Dee's Reese's cups. The memory continues to haunt me.

But things really became peaceful after I got the last of the smaller parts downstairs. I was able to get the bigger box down after I tilted the treadmill on it's side. So all that was left was the treadmill itself. Getting that downstairs was going to take two people.

So I settled down in the easy chair with my laptop and got caught up on some work. I still had to fill out my Lay Speaking Certification renewal form. I was waiting to make sure I successfully completed my class that weekend. I did, so I was able to start working on that.

I heard the garage door open and people disembarking from our van. I jumped up and realized the bag of Reese's was still on the steps by the door. I forgot to put away the evidence. Even though I hadn't given away a single one. Just the appearance of the bag outside it's concealed area might be enough to send Dee over the edge.

"Dad!" Brianna came in to give me a hug.

"How was the party?"

"It was so much fun, you should seen mom on the Wii."

"Mom played the Wii?" I asked incredulously. My wife gets motion sickness badly, and the huge moving screens you get when you're racing Mario go-karts, or just looking around a 3-D world can give her an instant headache. So she's somewhat limited in the games she can enjoy. Besides that, video games just aren't her thing. My several chapter blog on video games, in her opinion, was one the most boring blogs I've written.

Brianna continued, "yeah, she had to slice this fruit in the air like a Samurai warrior, it was great."

That caused me to chuckle, I pictured Dee flailing the control stick like a sword going through the air. "No one was hurt were they?"

"No, but you had to stand back a bit."

"I bet."

Dee walked in. She saw me standing in the hallway. "Hi," she said before her eyes fell to what I was holding in my hand.

Yes, unfortunately I was literally caught holding the bag. I witnessed a transformation right before my eyes. My sweet, loving wife's eyes suddenly began getting very big. I stared into them and thought I could see the laser beams charging up. "You didn't!" She sneered.

I immediately flew into panic mode, "No honey, honest, I didn't give away one." She had just been through sword training, anything was bound to happen. "I thought I was going to run out of Snickers."

"THEN YOU SHUT THE LIGHTS OFF AND LOCK THE DOOR!" Things were getting desperate.

"You can't do that!" I pleaded. I hurried to embrace her. If she was locked in a hug it might be more difficult to wield any weapons. At least the large flailing variety. "I promise no one got your Reeses." I wanted to reassure her.

"Put them back in the pantry." She said back to her calm, sweet, voice. Whew!

The sacred Reese's were put away and we visited about each others night. The party sounded like fun. The Wii went over pretty good and the antics of our church youth group are always interesting to hear. I learned there were not two, but three flatbed trailers roaming our streets that night. I can only remember 2 mobs but parts of the evening are rather fuzzy.

She described one she saw that contained a Native American chief, decked out with head dress and feathers. She said everyone else on the trailer was sitting but this kid was standing up towards the front with both hands holding on to a front side rail behind the driver. Dee described how his feathers were flowing behind him as they traveled. He looked like Chief Crazy Horse coming to lead his warriors in a charge.

I told them if they wanted to hear about my night they would have to read this blog.

Well, that treadmill still had to get downstairs. We went out to the garage to see what could be done. Very few things I've lifted are as heavy, or as awkward as treadmills. This one was even worse because it had some hinges on either side so you could tilt the running deck upward for storage and "easy" relocation.

So you basically had to carry this thing on it's side to try to keep the front heavy part from swaying back and forth. We hoisted it in the air and brought it up the few stairs into the house. Immediately I could feel the metal rails cutting into my hand. "I've got to get some gloves. Put it down." Please and thank you kind of fly out the window when you do something like this.

My gloves, of course, were in the garage, which was now blocked by the treadmill. I rushed into our coat/laundry room and rummaged through hats and scarves. All I could find was my son's little pair. I squeezed my hands into them. Tight fit but it would have to do.

We lifted again and brought it in. There was sharp 90 degree turn going downstairs so we had to go all the way into the family room, pivot, reverse and go down. Since I had the heavy side I was going down first. We had to stop in the middle of the stairs because my strength had given out. I'm not a Hulk Hogan if you catch my drift. The treadmill slid a little bit and Dee panicked because it felt to her like we were going to lose it. A heavy treadmill sliding downstairs under it's own volition is not a pretty picture.

"I got it," I breathed as I leaned against the thing, "just have to rest a bit."

This whole time my son, Brian, is following us. He likes to mutter under his breath, something we're trying to cure him of. "I knew this was going to happen." He whispered, but we heard him.

"Brian, what was going to happen?" Dee asked.

"You weren't going to get it downstairs."

"Brian, what do you think we're doing?" I fired back. "We're going to be fine."

"Yeah, after you go to the emergency room."

"We'll be fine." I repeated. "Ready?" I said to my lovely wife. She nodded.

Up again, we made it downstairs. Now we had 180 degree turn but it wasn't important that I was in front anymore so we could move all the way into the basement and then she would take the lead down the hallway into our storage, now turned exercise room.

We made it with relatively few injuries. Dee didn't make it to WalMart by the way.

Another interesting evening in the Meissner house.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treat

Ok, here's how it went down. I'm driving back from Jamestown. Dee and the kids are gussying up for the big party they would be going to that evening. The plan was for me to come home, do trick or treat duty, and figure out how we're going to get 2 tons of treadmill down in the basement. After the party, Dee was going to bring the kids home to bed, help me muscle the 'mill downstairs, and still make it to Walmart for some much needed necessities. Getting all this done was going to take a small miracle. One way or the other, that treadmill had to get downstairs before we went to bed, otherwise my car would have to sleep outside for the night. I've grown very accustomed to having my car in the garage on chilly, frosty Fall mornings.

So, to make the best use of my time, the plan was to open the box and get as many of the smaller pieces of the treadmill downstairs, so that by the time Dee got home, all we would need to do is team-lift the monster into the bowels of our home. Granted, that was going to take some time, but having all the unpacking nonsense done would hopefully speed up the process.

These companies must hire teams of mutant elf engineers to pack everything. It continues to amaze me how tightly things can be squashed in a box. There was a very distinct dotted slicing line so I could take a utility knife and make the first incision. I did, only to uncover yet another smaller enclosed box with no guidelines whatsoever. This smaller box, was of course, taped and stapled and banded together so it was going to take some real guesswork to figure out what and where I should cut next.

This is a high-dollar piece of equipment. You may remember I DIDN'T pay the maintenance agreement. So I performed the "laying on of hands" and asked God to please allow me to cut in the correct places. I started with the corners and carefully folded down the remnants of cardboard.

Now the cardboard is all laid flat on my garage and I'm now looking at the machine itself, all packaged and banded together in the same original shape as the outside box. Just a few cubic centimeters smaller. So it will still take some major disassembly to get anything resembling small pieces out of it. DING DONG! my first guests have arrived.

TRICK OR TREAT! A pretty harmless couple of kids, they needed to work on their delivery a bit. They had somewhat staggered entrances. I dispatched a couple snickers and they were off. I looked around, no one was coming, so I shut the door and went back to the garage.

At least now I could see what I was cutting so I expertly slit the poly wrap and got my first treasures. The user manual packet and the blister package of all the screws, nuts, and bolts. DING DONG! GRRRRRR!!

So I carried those items in, laid them on the floor, and raced to the door, sliding in my socks. I hear some boys outside whispering at the top of their lungs. "SSSHHH WAIT, HE'S COMING, HE'S COMING!"

I opened the door, TRICK OR TREAT! eeehhh, about the same as the last group. 2 more snickers later and the first mob arrived.

We have some neighbors, I dare say, that go overboard on this holiday. They take four-wheelers, hitch up flat-bed trailers, and then proceed to pile on so many kids it's a danger to public safety. They then take these contraptions and start ripping around our development. We live in a cul-de-sac so the first one came tearing up the road, screeched around the curve, and slid to a stop.

I closed the door. I'm not going to spoil the fun by having it open and waiting for them as they come up. I could hear them first by the pounding of their little feet on my sidewalk. DING DONG DING DONG DING DING DING DING DING DONG! Evidently more dings give you better service.

TRICK OR TREEEEEEEEEAT!!!!! hit me like blast from a freight train. Wow, that was impressive and I told them so. Yeah's and hi-fives all around. I unloaded more snickers and as a single unit they flew from the steps. It was then I noticed our steps really trip people up. We have concrete stairs, with a row of decorative brick on the front of each step. Add to that platform shoes and all the other manner of footwear kids have to wear with their costumes these days. The footwear and rough corners of those bricks was a proving a considerable stumbling block. Here's a hint from my childhood. We dressed however we wanted, but the shoes were always tennie-runners. That's what they were for. Efficiency+Speed=Much more candy.

After the mob left, I finally noticed an extremely small, cute little fairy princess slowly making her way up my stairs. She was so small each step was like scaling a mini-Mt. Everest. I was about to comment how cute she was when I noticed tears streaming down her face. She was inhaling and exhaling, trying to use all the courage she could muster to get out a tiny little '*sniff*trick, *sniff*, or treat."

I was concerned, "What's wrong?"

*sniff* "I fell off the trailer!" *whimper, sniff*

"Oh no! are you ok?"

She inhales deeply as if to somehow make herself taller, silence, just a tough couple head nods.

"Does anything hurt anywhere?"

Finally she exhales as the gasps out, "my knee."

"You're sure you're going to be all right?"

More tough head nods, "all right," I said, "be careful now" as I tossed in another snickers for good measure. I stood and watched her walk all the way across to the neighbor's yard to make sure she got to the next place all right.

I saw a couple of girls walking up, but I shut the door anyway. You have to earn your candy at my house. This time I hid around the corner. Silence, nothing for the longest time. So I peered around the corner and saw them still standing there.

What? no doorbell? This can't be right. I'm not going to open my door to a couple complete strangers. I slowly walked up to the window and gave them my best cranky old man glare. They glared at me right back. I opened the door just a crack, TRICK OR TREAT! blew in like a jet engine blast. I grudgingly opened the door and handed out the goods, asking, "you weren't going ring the bell?"

The one furthest from the bell suddenly yells at her partner, "YOU DIDN'T RING THE BELL?"

"NO!" she scoffs. They turned around and started to bicker with each other.

I was sorry. I didn't mean to start a squabble, "be careful on the stairs!" I thought those things were a lawsuit waiting to happen.

This time I got the manual, hardware package, wheels, and some side rails downstairs before the next summons.

A very musical "trick or treat" followed. A trio of young ladies. You could tell these girls had been practicing. "Nicely done," I said, "watch the stairs."

They were all smiles as they left. One said to the others, "I told you we sound good."

I went out to the garage. Everything was off the top of the big heavy piece but I hadn't seen the front control panel yet so that had to be underneath. I lifted the thing up on its side. There it was. How am I supposed to slide or carry that thing out one handed while I'm holding up the other very heavy part. DING DONG! "Dear Jesus, give me strength!"

Ugh, I lay the whole thing back down and went back inside to distribute more candy. It was another mob. I had to stare. They looked like the same group of kids only all with different costumes. I looked at the four-wheeler and trailer. This one was decked all out in Christmas lights. Ah well, even if it is the same group of kids, I'll give them some more sweets if they were going through the trouble of changing costumes.

The one that really impressed me was a huge spongebob squarepants. I'm not kidding, this thing was almost as tall as me and much wider, (yes, I said wider, don't you believe me?) I was looking for the peep holes. I hoped there was a small child in there somewhere. I couldn't find any. The only thing I could think of is either a see-through fabric, or he was somewhere deep inside the gaping black mouth looking out at me.

I don't know about you, but that big yellow sponge coming up the stairs terrified me much more than any of the assorted vampires, ninjas, or serial killers I had already seen.

A little girl shouted, "DOES BRIAN LIVE HERE?" in a sing-song girlie voice.

My son, the 5th grader, is quite a little Casanova. He's got this cute little face and quiet boyish charm that has all the girls googly-eyed. He must get his looks from his mom.

"YES HE DOES," I sang in my best little girlie voice.

"Tell him, Chantel says bye!"

Ok, I repeated it just to make sure I understood the message, "Tell him, Chantel says bye?"


I said, "ok", in my normal guy voice.

"AND TELL HIM, Chelsea says hi AND bye!" another one pipes up.

"Hi AND bye?" I ask, still in normal voice.



I'm chuckling as my eyes drop to the candy bowl. The chuckle suddenly dies in my throat as I realize with utter horror, that I have only 6 snickers left. It's not even 7:30. What am I going to do? Running out of candy is a huge, huge, no-no. I rush to the pantry.

My goodness we have a lot of pasta, I wonder how the tykes feel about dry macaroni? Probably not so good. Tortilla chips? no. Diet, kiwi-strawberry, sparkling green tea? no, that's mine. No candy anywhere?

Well, there is the sacred horde of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the way top shelf in the way back corner. But that, dear readers, belongs to my wife. Touching those peanut butter cups could sentence you to a fate worse than death.

I wasn't ready to go there. Not just yet, anyway. I raced back downstairs to the secret horde where I got the original halloween candy. We have to have secret hordes because we have children with sticky fingers, if you catch my meaning. I knew this was an exercise in futility because I had already gotten all the candy that was there. But I thought maybe I missed a bag lying somewhere in the folds of other plastic shopping bags. I tore through them in slight desperation now. Lady deodorant, mascara, 2 Colgate Motion toothbrushes, and a big fat zero on the candy scale.

I hung my head in sorrow and slowly made my way upstairs, into the pantry, and with trembling hands grabbed the bag of sacred Reese's.

I was utterly woebegone. Only six snickers lay between life and death. Or, as I said, something worse. DING DONG!

It was the neighbor boy and his sister. "Trick or treat". T-4 snickers now.

"I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!" the little guy shouts.

"WHO AM I?" I shouted right back.

"Um, Um, Um, I'VE BEEN TO YOUR HOUSE!" He replies.

"I know that, but who am I?"

"Um, Um, Um, I forgot." He finally acknowledges.

"That's ok," I let him off the hook.

I closed the door, sat down on the steps going upstairs, hung my head, and began to weep.

This was my prayer, "Dear Lord, let these 4 snickers be enough."

DING DONG! 2 more snickers down the tubes.

I sat back down and started sobbing. DING DONG! I had to dry my eyes before getting up. There's a very small chance they were tears of laughter, but I think I had just arrived at a point somewhere between despair and hysteria.

2 more boys. As my last snicker was swiped from the bowl. The young man shouted. "We wiped him out! I've never done that before."

They jump down all the steps at once. "Hey dad, we wiped out his candy bowl!" I'm so glad I could give this young man some satisfaction during this night to end all nights.

"I've got more!" I shouted, but without any real conviction as I choked down a sob.