Putting the "can" in your candy bag

By JAMIE PATTERSON,
Digging through my candy bag, I explored deep into the wonders that it held. From popcorn balls to Sugar Daddies to Snicker bars to those weird orange marshmallows shaped like peanuts…I was on cloud nine as I began to devour what I had collected that Halloween night. 
With chocolate smeared across my face and covered in the sweat from my fuzzy costume, I didn’t care about what I looked like as I ripped open each candy bag for a sugar high that would certainly last until the next morning. It was the one time of the year that I could gorge on sweets and actually get away with it. 
I thought the spooky night was about to come to an end, until I heard the doorbell ring through the house of my grandparents. Maw Maw had turned the carport light off, which signaled to all trick-or-treaters that she was done handing out candy. 
But apparently this kid didn’t get the memo. 
“Now who could still be out getting candy,” Maw Maw asked, as she emerged from the bathroom with her hair set in rollers. 
Maw Maw had kept the same routine since the 1950s. After supper, it was time for her muumuu house gown and fuzzy slippers, complete with her hair wrapped like Medusa in pink foam rollers. 
Mumbling under her breath, she opened the back door to a kid I had never seen before. He clearly wasn’t from the neighborhood because all children, and even adults, respected Maw Maw’s “carport light” rule. 
“Trick-or-treat,” the timid child said, shaking as he held up his plastic pumpkin. 
He had the look of fear on his face. He was probably trying to decide if Maw Maw was in costume or not.
“Give the kid something, Earlene,” Paw Paw yelled, as he stuffed his pipe with tobacco. “You’re scaring him to death just staring at him in all your get-up.”
After offering a few “choice words” to Paw Paw, Maw Maw returned her gaze to the kid who was practically shaking in his shoes at this point. 
“I guess you want some candy,” Maw Maw asked, with frustration in her voice. 
I guess the poor kid nodded his head. What was he thinking stopping at our house when the porch light was off? There were stories of how Maw Maw handled late-night visitors that dating back decades. I lived with the lady, and if I ever would have gotten locked out I would have made a pallet right there in the carport before I’d ring that doorbell. 
Maw Maw had already given out all her candy that night, but despite her rough exterior, she had a heart. 
“Stay right here,” she said. “I’ll find you something.”
Paw Paw and I stared in disbelief as we watched Maw Maw dig around the kitchen pantry. Within seconds, she emerged with her arms filled with canned goods. 
“Open your bag, honey,” she said. 
That poor kid was hoping for Tootsie Rolls and gumdrops. Instead he got a can of Spam, a can of baked beans, a potato and a jar of bread and butter pickles. 
“Now get home before it gets too late,” Maw Maw said, as she closed the door in that poor kid’s face and possibly his sanity. 
And what did Maw Maw do? She went right back to rolling what remained of her last strands of hair. Paw Paw and I sat, baffled, at what we just witnessed. 
“Shoot,” Paw Paw said, taking a puff of his pipe. “I was gonna eat those pickles.”
Not tonight Paw Paw. Some kid with Lemondrops, suckers and baked beans will dive into those pickles later. 
To this day, I have warned my children about the “carport light” rule. Don’t ring unless you want to come face to face with a muumuu-clad grandmother with an armload of canned goods. No horror movie could top that one.