Why I’m Still Spooked by Butterfingers

For a sweet-toothed male like myself, Halloween remains a highlight of my fall season. I love candy and sweets as far as the eye can see.

Yet the holiday also evokes some remnants of trepidation – and not because of the ghosts, goblins and witches wandering the neighborhood.

You see, my prime trick-or-treating years took place during the 1970s, when stories of treat tampering ran rampant. Caramel apples and popcorn balls (two of my favorites) were said to be effective receptacles for razor blades. I don’t even remember why Butterfingers were off-limits, but apparently they were magnets for sharp objects as well.

To this day, I think twice about consuming a Butterfinger – unless I’m feeling particularly rebellious.

I know this apprehension is unnecessary, but I’m a slave to stern warnings from my youth.

Like the caution against getting into cars with strangers, this one boils down to trust — or the lack thereof (in this case, questioning whether one of my neighbors might be trying to maim me with a razor-filled popcorn ball).

Which brings up an intriguing question:

Does trust need to be earned, or should it automatically be bestowed on someone unless/until that bond is breached?

I tend to favor the “need to earn it” position. It’s definitely the safer option, but likely causes me to miss out on some opportunities and relationships.

I’m always surprised (and a bit jealous) when I encounter someone with a seemingly endless bank of trust.

Are they truly that naïve, I wonder? Or maybe they believe the potential rewards trump the potential risks. They probably don’t give it much thought at all.

It’s interesting to consider the many times that I blindly trust – knowingly or unknowingly. I trust that the car whizzing past me in the next lane won’t suddenly swerve and collide into me. I also willingly hand my credit card to the random waiter, oblivious that he could be in the back room copying down my account number.

The whole concept of trust can be confusing and deceptive, to be sure.

I’m just grateful for my trusty friends (pictured, in part, below).

Previous Halloween post: SomeChum’s a Bum!

SomeChum’s a Bum!


One Halloween, sometime in the mid-‘70s, I distinctly remember wanting to dress up as a bum.

Not a “bum” as in “derriere” or “backside.” A “bum” as in “disgusting derelict who doesn’t bathe and wanders the streets without purpose or value to society.”

Nothing like aiming high in life.

I’m not quite sure if bums were the trendy costume of the day or if I just didn’t feel like imitating Joe Namath or some other overhyped sports hero. All I know is that I wanted to transform myself into a dirty, nasty man. And that’s what I became – complete with scraggly beard (created by mom’s eyebrow pencil); baggy, strategically torn clothes (courtesy of dad’s ready-to-go-to-Goodwill wardrobe pieces); and a bindle (fashioned from a kerchief tied to the end of a long stick).

In retrospect, it must’ve been a pretty sweet deal for my folks. There was no overpriced costume to buy, and the entire ensemble could be jerry-rigged from common household items. Three cheers for the low-maintenance son!

I’m sure my parents’ biggest concern was that my dream costume didn’t foretell some longer-term career aspiration.

Of course, living in our upper-middle-class neighborhood in a small-town suburb of a modestly sized city, we knew no actual bums. They weren’t welcome at the grocery store, didn’t appear at the post office and never showed up at the town library.

It would be many years before “bums” were rebranded as “homeless persons” – and brought to the forefront as real individuals who didn’t just exist in Dickens novels.

I’m guessing there won’t be many bums making an appearance this Halloween.

That’s probably a good thing.


A photo depiction of my parents’ worst nightmare.