THE VOICE ON the radio sounded authoritative enough. She was representing one of those nutrition labs that tells us what we should and should not eat.
The subject was Halloween, and the health guru was telling listeners that candy was a horrid thing to give little children that night: too much sugar, too much fat, too many carbohydrates, etc.
But when she suggested a bagel as a substitute, and added that it would be fun for the kids, any authoritative connotation to her dissertation evaporated. Thud!
Can you imagine some little pixie coming to your front door tomorrow night, squeaking out "trick or treat" and, upon receiving a garlic bagel from you, shrieking to her playmates: "What fun!"
The health lady also suggested giving applesauce as a nutritious offering to the youthful goblins. Shall we vote on that?
My earliest recollection of Halloween, a fun time turned sour by weirdos, fundamentalists and, now, nutritionists, was when I was voted Joan of Arc by my larger playmates one Halloween dusk, and placed in a 30-gallon metal garbage can. The other boys then put twigs and paper around the base of the can, charged me with witchcraft, sentenced me to death and set fire to the paper.
This, of course, is the kind of Halloween we can do without.
But Halloween can be a lot of fun, if we let it.
Some of my fondest memories are of when we dressed the kids in costumes and accompanied them around the neighborhood on trick-or-treat forays. There is something special about a mother painting her little princess' face with makeup.
Unfortunately, now we have some in the ministry demanding the observation of Halloween be halted because it derives from a pagan celebration. I would remind those people that Christmas has the same roots. The month of Jesus' birth is unknown. Hundreds of years later, the last part of December was chosen to commemorate his birth because it came at the same time as established pagan holidays.
The fundamentalists can't have it both ways.
And now come the nutritionists who are trying to convince us that this one-night stand of gorging on candy is physically destructive to our children.
Oh, grow down, will you!
Let's not lock our kids up inside their homes on Halloween and deny them -- and us -- the fun of trick or treat. Let's continue to be careful about where they go and from whom they take goodies, but let them knock on our doors so that we may enjoy both their costumes and their childhood.
Let them eat candy until their little tummies ache. And sneak a piece or two yourself; it's yummy after months of low-fat, sugar-free tastelessness.
You can start pumping them with bagels and applesauce the next day.
Howard Kleinberg is a columnist for Cox Newspapers.