“How are we going to hand out Halloween candy this year,” my 14-year-old daughter asked. Next to me, I can see my wife’s concerned look. It could be because we are in the midst of a pandemic and my area is not doing well. Or it could be the giant grin across my face.
“By catapult,” I said to my kids.
My wife sighs and rolls her eyes. It would appear that she was more worried about going trick or treating with the kids, but the sigh indicates that she is now worried about me flinging candy at stranger’s children. She knows that I am not joking.
Stick with me here, this is going to be good.
I would like to submit that my idea of building a small, but highly effective, catapult to launch candy at ghouls and ghosts is indeed a great plan. An absurd year requires absurd solutions. That’s my motto. And nothing could be more absurd than the way my country has responded to Covid-19.
We have leaders that downplay the virus and say to not worry about it. My own governor caught it and got world-class healthcare that many do not because hospitals are becoming overrun. Our president gets experimental medication that is not available to the rest of us. I get emails 2 or 3 times a week about how there is a new outbreak in my children’s school even though we are on a hybrid learning model. And yet, so many of us carry on with the belief that this is no big deal.
225,000 of my fellow countrymen have died. We as a country have no reasonable solution. Or we do, but I’m not a fan of the “Good Luck!” plan that is currently in place.
So, in light of all that, I would say that my catapult idea is completely reasonable and fits the theme of this messed up year.
“You are not going to build a catapult,” my wife said.
“I am, too,” I said to her. “It’s the perfect solution. We keep distance from everyone that is going out trick or treating. The kids get candy. And it’s fun, the very essence of what Halloween is supposed to be.”
“No,” she said.
But it was already too late as the plans are coming together in my head. Notice here how my wife didn’t say I couldn’t build a catapult. She was here when I built the last one. A wonderful machine that could launch a potato a good 50 yards before the tension on the siege weapon made the base snap. Building a small version of my death machine shouldn’t be hard at all.
For my amateur siege weapon builders, the trick is all in the rope. Make sure you get a nice figure 8 as you wrap the rope between the throwing arm and the base. Then when you twist it, the torsion is pretty much already in place. It’s simple really.
Now, there are some safety concerns that my wife is going to bring up, so it’s best if I address them now.
When you build a catapult, that is a challenge to the Huns, and they may come to reclaim their dominance. If that happens, build a ballista and maybe a trebuchet. There, problem solved.
Next, you have to calibrate the machine just right. A well-shot Snickers bar could knock a toddler out and that wouldn’t be good for neighbor relations. So set the release angle at around 50 degrees so you get more height and less Snicker Concussion speed.
Finally, watch your fingers as the catapult hits the stop bar because it’s a good way to break your hand. To protect yourself, make a glove out of candy corn. That’s all there is to it for a candy throwing catapult.
The truth is, my kids would love it and also the kids in my neighborhood. This year has taken a heavy toll on them. Some have lost family members to this pandemic, and even if they haven’t, we’ve all been affected. Schools are in chaos, businesses are closing, and there is no doubt that everyone’s mental health is suffering. Our children are lost, and many parents are as well.
We keep waiting for the question to be answered. What do we do? How do we move forward? Will our elected leaders take this seriously? I can’t answer any of those and it breaks my heart to see my 7-year-old bored out of his mind as he sits in front of yet another zoom classroom without any contact from his school friends.
I struggle watching my 13-year-old son get mad during his orchestra class because he’s basically teaching himself at this point. My 14-year-old daughter knows that she is being robbed of her freshman year in high school. There is nothing I can do about any of that, except VOTE. I may take my catapult with me when that happens.
But as a dad, I know that sometimes to make things better, you need to focus on the small acts that you can control. The little moments where you can find joy and comfort. A smile that I can put on someone’s face.
And that is why a candy flinging catapult is a great idea this year. And to be honest, it’s a better plan than anyone else has come up with.