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.