Sometimes a parent just knows.
When the doorbell rang, I just knew what nasty Halloween prank I’d find on my front porch. (Besides, it was dark and I could hear the perpetrator running away.)
I flung open the front door. My son screamed at the sight that awaited us.
“AIEEEE! We’ve been Phantomed!”
Just as I thought.
A paper plate of Halloween goodies rested on the ground with a flyer fastened on top. Outlined in black ink on the flyer wasthe mug shot of a benign-looking ghost.
My youngest rushed to see for himself. “Hooray! Now we get to Phantom somebody! Yippee!”
“Yeah,” I said half-heartedly. “Yippee.”
I hate the Phantom. Every October we receive a plate of treats and a cute Halloween chain letter threatening us with a curse unless we “Phantom” two more households within 24 hours. It’s like a supernatural hostage situation with multi-level-marketing.
“We’ve got to Phantom two houses,” insisted my oldest, “or we’ll get warts! Can we open the bags of tricker-treeter candy and Phantom with it?”
Oh sure. That’d protect them from the Phantom’s Curse, but then I’d be exposed to the Curse of the Halloween Candy Bag That Was Opened Too Soon. The first of this holiday season’s weight gain, courtesy of the Phantom.
“Thanks a lot, Phantom.” I snarled.
“Yeah,” agreed the kids, about to chomp down on goodies. “Thanks, Phantom!”
“Wait a minute!” I demanded, grabbing the plate. “You can’t be too careful nowadays.” I examined the treats: candy, two Halloween trinkets… and fresh-baked cookies.
Aha! Didi was baking today. Darn her and her cookies. No Chips Ahoy for that woman–she’s got to show us all up with authentic Tollhouse.
“Mom, let’s Phantom somebody tonight!”
“Not tonight,” I begged. “And instead of candy, let’s bake something.” Why ruin my neighborhood goody-giving reputation with some cheap Tootsie Rolls?
The next night the doorbell rang and a chill ran down my spine. I’d forgotten to bake cookies!
Even worse, I’d forgotten to put up the Phantom equivalent of a garlic wreath. Without the friendly ghost picture taped to our door, we were sitting ducks for more Phantoming.
“Hooray!” shouted the boys from the front door. “We were Phantomed again!”
“It’s not fair!” I cried out to the darkness. “We were already Phantomed! Take it back!”
A gleeful voice answered, its owner and her kids running away in the night: “Too bad! You shoulda put up the picture! HAHAHAHAHA!”
“Now we hafta do FOUR Phantoms!” crowed the oldest, giving his brother a high-five.
Darn! By now the entire neighborhood would be Phantomed. In fact, the odds of us finding an un-Phantomed door were decreasing rapidly, and we needed four. We’d be driving for miles.
Hubby watched us as we searched for the tape to put up the ghost picture.
“You know,” he said finally, “this Phantom is really a pyramid scheme.”
I was in a foul mood. “Tell me about it!”
But he was speaking to the boys. “Ultimately, people will run out of doors without Phantom pictures on it, and then what will everybody do?”
News of this impending tragedy left our boys gulping in sympathy.
“But if we don’t tape that picture to our door, not only will we protect our wood finish, we’ll provide a place for desperate people to Phantom! Why, it’d be like offering a needed
Then Hubby frowned. “The only problem is,” he said sadly–as if the boys would be upset to hear this part, “that you’d get lots of treats.”
Their eyes widened. “But the curse! We’ll get warts!”
“You won’t! And boys, if you really want to help people, don’t Phantom anyone else. You’ll free up even more doors.”
Under his breath he added, “and we won’t be guilty of extortion.”
The man was brilliant.
“Well!” I said happily. “What will it be? Providing aid to our neighbors and raking in the treats? Or living in fear of a silly warts curse?”
Somehow I just knew what their answer would be.
Besides, I also knew where to buy Compound W.