By LARRY WOODY
It's almost that time of year when heartless blood-suckers stalk the land, demanding handouts and scaring the daylights out of folks.
It's called Federal Income Tax Time.
But before April 15 arrives, there's another traditional date that's almost as frightening.
It's called Halloween.
IRS agents, disguised as flesh-eating zombies, troop from house to house demanding property, cash and other personal assets. If you don't pay up they'll soap your windows, tip over your outhouse, and garnish your wages.
No, wait -- I'm getting Halloween mixed up with Tax Time.
What started out as a pagan ritual centuries ago, has turned into a pagan ritual in modern times.
Back in the olden days they often would sacrifice a 21-year-old virgin, but of course there is no such thing nowadays. So instead of a toasted virgin, we settle for a handful of Candy Corn and a Jack-o-lantern.
By the way, I detest Candy Corn. Back in my trick-or-treating days that was about all we got from our chincy neighbors.
Miss Inez, still brooding over the loss of her husband in WW I (he ran off with a Red Cross nurse) re-cycled her Candy Corn. The morning after Halloween, whatever remained glued to the candy tray would be chiseled free, stored in a plastic bag, and served again next year.
I never actually ate any, but I assume the accumulated lint and cat hair probably improved the taste.
Halloween fits perfectly in today's greedy, self-absorbed society because it's all about getting something for nothing. Ring a doorbell, hold out a bag, and order it filled.
It's like the Federal Government with a sheet over its head.
A recent survey found Halloween ranks only second to Christmas in terms of popularity. Everybody loves it. Kiddies can put on scary costumes and collect enough free candy to keep their dentists in yachts for years. Adults can dress up in silly costumes, act goofy, and blame it on Halloween.
One politician, caught in a compromising encounter on Halloween, claimed he had had his pants scared off.
When I was a kid we made our own "costumes" out of bed sheets and old clothing. Occasionally someone's parents might spring for a mask, usually of a witch or Dracula.
My boyhood buddy Booger Johnson once painted himself brown, stuck some straw in his hair and went as a cow paddy. (The fact that Booger SMELLED like a cow paddy added to the effect.)
Nobody makes their own outfits any more. Today there are specialized Halloween boutiques that sell nothing but costumes and accessories, and have resident make-up artists. Halloween customers spend more on face paint than Cher.
Zombies are predicted to be big this year, and some of the get-ups are so life-like (or death-like?) that they come with warnings and advisories -- it's possible to look TOO scary. Take Whoopie Goldberg, for example.
I admit Halloween is fun. I've got my jack-o-lantern carved and sitting on the porch, a glowing beacon to all the goodie-grabbing goblins as they go scurrying about. I'm ready for the little devils when they ring my doorbell.
I hope they like Candy Corn.