Raisin Cain

 ***image1***"Are you coming to bed?" my lovely wife, Grace, asked.

"No. I’m going to watch the game."

"Wasn’t there a game last night, and the night before that?" she inquired.

"Yes," I explained. "First there were the playoffs, then the league championships, and now the World Series. You know how I love baseball," I continued, "national pastime, ‘take me out to the ball game’, peanuts and cracker jacks, and all that."

"Okay, suit yourself," Grace replied. "But, speaking of peanuts, keep your hands out of the candy bowl. I’m taking it to my Women Who Wine night."

The contents of the candy bowl were Grace’s concoction of dry roasted peanuts and candy corn. A mouthful tastes just like a certain candy bar. Grace likes to have guests attempt to "name that taste." Most nod in recognition, eyes gazing upward trying to place the flavors, but few correctly identify the candy bar the mystery mixture resembles. (Try it yourself)

"Don’t blame me," I pleaded. "Aunt Toogie ate most of it."

"I swear," Grace sighed, arms folded, "you and Toogie are going to eat all the sweets before Halloween."

The week before, we had made our annual trek to stock up on Halloween goodies. Grace and I look forward to doling delights to trick-or-treaters, especially the wee ones.

I quickly snatched up bags of "the good stuff," such as Snickers, M&M’s, Twix, Tootsie Rolls, Hershey’s and Goo Goo Clusters. As I dumped my armload of treasures into the shopping cart, I noticed several bags of itty bitty boxes of raisins.

"What are these?" I questioned.

Grace looked up but did not respond.

"No kid wants those," I announced. "They’re lower on the Halloween food chain than Necco wafers. We don’t want to be known as raisin givers!"

"Well, I think they are tasty," Grace declared, "plus, they are good for you."

In the checkout line, the young man bagging our purchases picked up a bag of raisin boxes. He looked at me and raised his eyebrows. I immediately picked up on the male-to-male, nonverbal communication. He was silently asking: Dude, are you, like, serious about these raisins for Halloween? I tilted my head ever so slightly to the left, toward Grace: Not me, Pal; it was her idea. He smiled and nodded only a fraction of an inch: I smell ya, Dogg!

"Looks like you’re all set for Halloween," he said as he put the last bag in our cart. "Me and my buddies are going out if I don’t have to work."

I cocked my head and replied, "Really?"

On the drive home I asked Grace, "Did you hear that kid at Publix say he was going out for Halloween?"

"Yes, Dear. He seemed like a nice young man, though he does need to work on his grammar."

"That’s my point. He is a man. He must be over six feet tall. He shouldn’t be trick-or-treating!"

"I didn’t know there was a height limit."

"Well, there should be an age limit!" I shot back. "Plus, the big kids always grab the best candy. It’s the little ones who appreciate whatever you give them."

"Well then," Grace offered, "we can give candy to the big kids and raisins to the little ones."

"No," I retorted, "I’m saving those raisins for any kid taller than I am. That will teach them a lesson. You can’t pretend to be a kid forever."

As we finished dinner the night before Halloween, Aunt Toogie asked, "Who’d like a piece of chocolate?" This is female-code-speak for: I’d like some chocolate. It is similar to Grace asking me ‘How would you like to drive to Atlanta?’ This means: I want to go to Nordstrom.

"If you two keep nibbling sweets like this we won’t have enough for tomorrow," Grace responded. "How about a nice box of raisins?"

Toogie gave Grace an "Are you nutty?" look, then ambled into the pantry and helped herself to a Mr. Goodbar with a Mallo Cup chaser.

On the big night (All Hallow’s Eve), we took our positions in the foyer. My job was to give out the treats while Grace cooed over the costumes, particularly those worn by the littlest ones. This was Toogie’s first time at bat, so to speak, and she put her chair right by the front door to get a good view of the parade of youngsters. I had sorted the treats into two bowls – a larger one full of candy for the tiny tykes and a smaller one containing the raisin packets which I intended for the too-tall tricksters. At the appointed time, the street was instantly full of costumed creatures. It was as if they had been hiding in the bushes waiting for the witching hour. There were princesses, pirates, pumpkins, an assortment of men (bat, spider and super), witches, Draculas (or is it Draculae?), Ninjas – everything from the Addams Family to Zorro. As soon as the first gaggle of goblins hit the front porch, Toogie stepped in to pinch hit and took over my task of distributing the delights. She dispensed treats with dialogue. When a big kid asked for a certain candy bar, as in "I’ll take a Butterfinger," Toogie responded with something such as, "Take a Kit Kat, they’re great; or better yet, try both." To the little ones, she would grab an assortment and chronicle each candy as she filled their bag – "Here is a Reese’s, with peanut butter and chocolate, very good, and a Heath Bar, watch out when you bite, the center is hard, and a Baby Ruth, one of my favorites." We were quickly running out of stuff – at least the good stuff.

"Push the raisins," I whispered, "especially to the big kids."

"Back off, Andrew Weil," Toogie barked. "No kids want that crap for Halloween!"

Soon, we were down to a mere handful of candy bars, though still armed with an ample allotment of raisins.

"I need to make a candy run back to Publix," I announced.

"Pick up some Almond Joys," Toogie chimed in. "I’ve had a hankering for one all night."

I sped to the store, parked at the curb near the door, and raced inside to the candy aisle. The shelf where the candy had been stocked was empty, not a bag or bar in sight. I ran up and down aisles until I found a clerk.

"Do you have any Halloween candy?" I pleaded.

"Up front on a table," he replied, pulling back to get out of my path.

I trotted to the front of the store, out of breath. There on a table sat all that was left of the Halloween stock – a lone bag of Mike & Ike, a bag of Skittles, and a couple dozen bags of boxed raisins. Then it hit me – there are full-sized candy items in the check out lanes. I grabbed a cart and rushed to the first lane and began scooping up stuff – Twizzlers, Bubble Yum, Starburst, and Nerds. I proceeded to the next lane and squeezed behind a lady in line. She seemed a tad annoyed when I reached past her ankle to grab Pay Days and Boston Baked Beans. I also scooped up 3 Musketeers, Life Savers, Mounds and Nestle Crunch. Scooting to the last lane, I snatched up Jolly Ranchers, a couple Almond Joys for Toogie, Zagnuts, Charleston Chews and York Peppermint Patties. As the clerk totaled my tally, I noticed he was the same young man who had bagged my first round of Halloween candy purchases.

He lifted his eyebrows which I realized was his way of asking: Did you do the raisins, Dude? I shook my head back and forth a couple times: Nope, I’m no raisin giver. He smiled and tipped a finger to the bill of an imaginary cap: I’m reading your book, Man!

I handed him a Zagnut in appreciation and dashed to the car.

When I returned, Toogie was still positioned at the foyer door. The large bowl was empty; the small one remained full of raisins.

"Looks like I’m here just in time," I wheezed.

"Don’t sweat it. I’m doing fine," Toogie smiled. "I’ve been giving them some of that baseball stuff."

"What baseball stuff?"

"Those old cards in the cabinet. Hey, where’s my Almond Joy?"

"MY BASEBALL CARDS," I bellowed. "You’ve been giving them my BASEBALL CARDS?"

"What’s all the fuss?" Grace called out from the kitchen.

"She been giving away my baseball cards," I cried out. "I had Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and a Satchel Paige."

"Oh, they weren’t all that great," Toogie interjected. "Some of the small kids actually chose the raisins over those faded cards. And the big kids preferred the baseballs."

"BASEBALLS!" I gasped. "You gave away my AUTOGRAPHED BASEBALLS? Say it ain’t so!"

I lowered my head and moaned, "Ernie Banks, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Harmon Killebrew…gone…all gone."

"I’m sorry, Honey," Grace consoled. "Toogie was only trying to be nice to the children."

"It was my baseball treasure," I wailed.

"If you ask me," Toogie spoke up, "aren’t you a little old for that stuff?"

I looked up, dumbfounded.

"I mean, shouldn’t there be an age limit?" Toogie continued. "After all, you can’t pretend to be a kid forever."

Later that sad evening, I crawled into bed.

"I’m sorry about what happened tonight," Grace said, patting my arm.

I lay silently in a fetal position.

"You’ll feel better in the morning. I’ll make you a nice breakfast" she added, turning out the light.

Lying in the dark, I heard a voice from out of left field whisper ‘if you ask her, she will answer.’ It prompted me to inquire, "What are you planning for breakfast?"

I swear I heard a tiny chuckle before she replied, "I was thinking of a nice big bowl of Raisin Bran."

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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