He used to be Superman, then Jack Sparrow, the pirate. Last year it was Darth Vader. Now he’s a zombie. I’m not sure what the progression means, except that he gets scarrier every year.
But it’s still about the candy.
Several years ago, Nora came up with the following plan for his trick-or-treat haul: After two or three days of his gorging on sweets, we’d set out what was left on the front doorstep for the birds. We’d do it on the morning of a school day. When Nick got home in the afternoon, the candy would be gone, and in its place would be a present the birds had left him, maybe a small Lego kit or a stuffed animal. I don’t think I’d have taken this deal as a kid, but Nick always seemed satisfied. Until now.
This year, the night before Halloween, Nick waved me over with a conspiratorial air.
“Mommy should put her candy out for the birds this year with mine.”
“Mommy doesn’t usually get Halloween candy,” I said.
“I’m going to give her a bag to go trick or treating with me.”
“Well, the birds can take my candy. But when Mommy’s not looking, we’ll take her candy.” A look of triumph.
“So you’ll still have candy,” I said. “But you’ll also get your present from the birds.”
“But Mommy will expect a present from the birds for her candy,” I said.
“We can leave her some jewelry.”
“Brilliant,” I said. “Don’t spill the beans.”
Usually, Nick can keep a secret for about two minutes. But when Nora walked in on us he clamed right up.
“Me and daddy aren’t talking about anything,” he said.
“You’re up to something,” Nora said.
“You come trick or treating with me this year. Then you can give your candy to the birds when I do,” Nick said.
“Okay,” said my naive, unsuspecting wife.
I was curious if he really knew who was behind the birds. After all, this is an eight-year-old guy who accused Nora of being the tooth fairy. I didn’t want to risk spoiling what little magic is left in his world by asking directly.
“Do you think the birds will mind your taking Mommy’s candy,” I said to him when we were alone again.
“No,” he said, “Because they’ll still get mine.”
“I wonder,” I said, “Do you think the birds that take the candy are our usual birds who live around the house? Or do you think they’re special birds who collect everyone’s candy?”
“They’re the ones that live around the house,” he said with perfect confidence.
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