Trucker of the wooded patch

Published 5:54 pm Friday, October 30, 2009

Well kids, the grandmother of all snacking holidays is upon us (the grandfather, of course, being Thanksgiving, the very reason I exist). Halloween is here and it’s time for children to take to the night in search of those elusive chocolaty and fruity treats.

But there is another factor to Halloween, to which we must paid heed. Halloween is also about horror, so let me share with you a little tale from my childhood.

My friend — we’ll just call him J — and I had a Halloween tradition of going trick-or-treating and then camping out in a patch of woods near our houses. This was back when it was relatively safe to hunt for candy well into the wee hours of the night, and the woods were kind of a safe place for two pre-teen boys to hang out for the night. So, we’d pack up my A-Team tent and put on our best costumes and take off.

This particular year, there was a terrible accident in our neighborhood in which an old truck driver was killed. Though I never met him, it was said he was an awful man who did nothing all day but smoke cigars in his Orioles baseball cap in the very wooded patch where we were planning to camp out.

Undeterred, we ventured out. After a very profitable night of trick-or-treating, J and I had a nice haul of peanut butter cups, Skittles, and — my absolute favorite — fun-sized Snickers (and I mean the real fun-sized ones not the precious little minis they have nowadays).

J and I went round and round that night in the traditional negotiations for the treats we most wanted from each other’s bags. And I simply wouldn’t budge on the Snickers, no matter how much he offered.

Foolishly, I went to make a pit stop out in the woods and returned to find J stuffing his face with MY Snickers! Apparently, the code of honor meant nothing to this former friend, so I went to sleep without the sweet taste of nougat and peanuts on my breath.

I awoke in the early morning to the clank of a can against a tree outside my tent. I looked over to find J gone and nothing but terrible black licorice left in both our Halloween bags.

As I darted outside to find J, all I saw in the morning mist was the faint silhouette of a tall, lanky figure walking away from my tent. And when I turned back to get my things, I found an old Orioles cap sitting atop my tent.

I never found my friend J. I’d like to think he is safe somewhere, but there may be a tall, lanky figure in the distance who knows otherwise.

The preceding tale may or may not (but definitely is not) true. But, the moral I take from this thing I’ve made up is to have that candy in moderation, kids. Greed gets you nowhere.

And, most importantly, keep your hands off my candy. I may have the trucker of the wooded patch on my side.

Happy Halloween!