Humor by Greg Schwem

It is 8 inches high, 18 inches around, made of crystal and, in my house, as dangerous as a loaded gun.

It appears each year in mid-October and does not vanish until after Easter. It occupies the space between my home office and my bathroom; I pass it at least six times a day, more if I'm using caffeine to counteract writer's block.

It sings to me the way the mythical Greek Sirens lured sailors to their island with lilting melodies, only to thrash them to death once the smitten men had disembarked their vessels. I have implored my wife and children to remove it. "We don't need that thing in our lives," I say. "It is a temptation at best and a potent drug at worst. It has the potential to kill us all or at least take years off our lives."

Yet the candy dish remains.

Yes, the season of sweet, colorful, easily scooped with one hand while in motion treats is upon us. Two weeks prior to Halloween, my foyer become a candy laboratory featuring a revolving array of old favorites and new concoctions guaranteed to send me running to the dentist and the tailor to treat my deteriorating teeth and waistline. Currently, the freshly washed dish contains the remains of what was formerly an irresistible mixture of M&M's and candy corn. WARNING: If you've never tried it, don't start now, for it is impossible to pluck one piece from the blend without plunging all 10 fingers in seconds after.

Of course the simple solution would be to shun the dish entirely, something my sweet teeth render me incapable of doing. If I were running a marathon and a race volunteer stuck out a tray of Hershey's Kisses at the 18-mile mark, I would grab a handful and spend the rest of my journey wasting precious energy trying to free them from their wrappers.

My kids seem to delight in my weakness. I began this candy season by quickly devouring the first round of miniature Nestle Crunch bars, even washing the dish afterwards and proclaiming, "That's it. No more!"

Instead, like Lindsay Lohan's name in a police blotter, the dish reappeared. This afternoon, somebody had replenished it with bite-size Hershey bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats and Rolos. Kids who trick or treat at my door usually receive one of these, but why not put out a few hundred early just to make sure they are not poisonous, right? Dad will gladly volunteer for tasting duties.

I know what's coming next. The orange and white candy corn that symbolizes Halloween will give way to recently created candy corn in Thanksgiving colors (shame on you Brach's for wickedly extending the candy corn season.) When the last of the turkey leftovers has been consumed, red and green M&M's will magically appear, signaling the start of the Christmas holiday.

There may be a brief respite in early January, but it will last only long enough to clean the dish and make it presentable for the sugary Valentine's Day hearts with the little romantic messages. Afterward, it's never too early to start thinking about the mother of all candy holidays . . . EASTER!

"Can't you at least fill the dish with a candy that I don't like, but that you and the kids find pleasant?" I pleaded to my wife.

"Like what?" she said.

"Like those marshmallow Peeps. I can't stand those things. And now they're making them in the shape of Christmas trees, pumpkins, hearts and Easter bunnies. You could have Peeps all year long and I could see my shoes again."

"Peeps are too big," she said. "You could only fit about four of them in the dish."

"And that's a bad thing?"

"That candy is for all our visitors," she said. "Get your own!"

"I don't want my own. I don't want any of it. Can't we just have a candy-free house this year?"

"And what are we supposed to give the kids at Halloween?"

"I dunno. Online coupons? How about double-A batteries? The kids will think they are Tootsie Rolls."

"Why don't you just put a bag of raw vegetables in your office? Eat one before you come near the dish. Problem solved."

Unable to come up with a better idea, that's exactly what I'm doing. So far so good.

Still, I wonder: What a chocolate-covered carrot would taste like?

Humorist Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad

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