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When the doorbell rings in October, everyone in the Contessa household hides behind the curtains because it may be:

1) Kids selling useless crap;

2) Marine recruiters on the march for a few good men;

3) Merlotta signing up volunteers for the school carnival;

4) Child Protective Services; or

5) Tricked-out Hannah Montanas and Batmans begging for goodies.

Actually, Contessa's ready for the little monsters this year. After first considering whether to hand out used wine corks or Bongo’s dog biscuits that look exactly like cookies (just ask Cat’s homeroom party mom), I decided to go organic. I've stocked up on healthful treats, like Pomegrante Pucker-flavored Yummy Earth Lollipops and Vienna Roast Coffee-flavored hard candies.

That'll line 'em up at the door. The neighbor's door.

I stored a stash of organic toffee chews, too, because all kids love toffee. It ranks right up there alongside fruit cake and Friday night laxatives. But the scream of the night will be Endangered Species Bug Bites.

Nothing says yummy in the tummy better than vegan, gluten-free, kosher beetles available in both, milk AND dark chocolate. Plus, they come with a set of 32 insect trading cards. So after little Brittney and The Joker finish hurling in the bushes, they can discover all sorts of bug trivia, like how the cockroach will probably never be named to any endangered species list.

Yep, after a treat from Contessa, kids are gonna beg for something more traditional, like razor-in-the-apples treats. Or wine.

Now that I’ve decided which treats to give the little darlings, it’s time to figure out what to do with their parents. This is tough. Just what do you hand out to a thirty-something balding guy standing on your porch decked out in his Sunday-best wife-beater t-shirt that doesn’t quite reach his belly-button? And no, that’s not his costume. He’s the dad thrusting a Spec’s liquor sack under your nose with one hand, juggling Pabst Blue Ribbon and a Marlboro with the other, and easing himself into your foyer while you‘re complimenting his kid on her creative costume made out of used trash bags.  

I know. A restraining order.


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