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      The annual Halloween column

      A few years ago, my wife and I both had to work Halloween night, so nobody was home.

      But we left a bowl of candy the size of a Buick for our little friends.

      Trick or Treat, little guys and gals! All of you precious little ghouls and goblins, help yourself! You're adorable!

      Sugar on us!

      Within 10 minutes, from reliable sources, one ghoul had taken all the candy off the front porch.

      Maybe it was a goblin, not sure. But not only did he/she or ghoul/goblin take all of the candy, but they took the bowl, too.


      Trick or treat, smell my feet or give me something good to eat ... sure.

      But stealing everything, including the bowl? C'mon, man! What are you going to do with it, wash your dog? Mine for gold? Get on a sugar high and run to San Antonio?

      Just because you've got a sheet over your head or you're wearing a stupid mask doesn't mean you own the world.

      This is war, kid, because that was a good bowl.

      The next year, I pretended we were gone again. We put another Buick Bowl of candy on the porch, but this time with an electric shock on it hooked up to the Nuclear Plant, and I hid in the bushes. (Okay, it wasn't really hooked up to the Nuclear Plant. It was only hooked up to a generator.)

      Hah! Game on!

      Go ahead, make my Halloween Night, kid!

      But that year, the game was played properly. Cute kids in cute outfits made their way to the door, looked at the bowl, and took one or two pieces of tasty fun and proudly pranced away.

      Soon, while squatting in the bushes, I got leg cramps and went inside. But this was a proud moment for the neighborhood ghouls and goblins.

      Well played.

      Then there was this year --- a great, wonderful Halloween night. The usual.

      Like you, we did our best to support our local dentists by handing out more sugar than a plantation in the Caribbean. And of course, burying the good candy at the bottom of the bowl, hoping it would remain in the home.

      On this night, no bowl-stealing. No foot smelling. Just cute kids in cute outfits.

      Well, almost ...

      Have you noticed that the later it gets, the older the "kids" get? They graduate from ages 1-5 from 5-6 p.m., to 6-10 from 6-7 p.m, to 11-13 from 7-8 p.m. After that, the average age is 28.

      I'm pretty sure the same "kid" came to our house three or four times. And I'm pretty sure he was at least 21, since he asked me for a beer on his last trip.

      His voice sounded like James Earl Jones.

      "Trick or Treat," he said in a deep bass voice, wearing a hunting hat for a costume, fumbling in his pocket like he had a gun.

      "Bud Light okay."?

      "Sure, whatever," he said.

      By the end of the night, we were overrun and cleaned out. We started handing out candy corn and M&M's one at a time until we were out.

      The second-to-last kid got a can of lima beans, which expired in 2007, from the back of the cupboard. The last kid got a piece of bologna.

      Sorry, last two kids.

      Bon appetit.