Thursday, November 02, 2006

Halloween Recap

I'm soon to be 50 years old and for the past month I've been driving around with a ghost strapped in the back seat of my car. There's nothing wrong with that. Is there? Seriously, it's not like I'm using a ghost to access the carpool lane in rush-hour traffic. I know how ridiculously wrong that would be. It's just that I get so lonely out there on the open road and Casper is a perfect passenger. No back seat driving. No whining for an ice cream cone every time we pass a Dairy Queen. No unplanned potty spots. No spilled soda or fingerprints on the back window. No Blue's Clues on the car CD player. Just a quiet and agreeable poltergeist to keep me company. I only hope I can find an elf to take his place soon.

Halloween. I was always a hobo; hobo being a socially acceptable word in the 60's. It wasn't that dressing as a princess or a Musketeer or a hippie wasn't more desireable but nothing could replace the ease of preparation in being a hobo. Dirty play clothes, a light coating of ashes from the fireplace, a pillow case tied to the end of a stick to haul the evenings sugar-booty, and you were good to go.

3.2 seconds after sunset and every door in our neighborhood swung open to release hordes of marauding children on the yearly candy pilgrimage. Call it Heaven. Call it Nirvana. Whatever your faith tradition, it was one entire evening of unrestrained bliss. Oh sure, it wasn't without it's downside. There was for example, the house two doors down and on the opposite side of the street that in one year went from handing out sticky, gooey, yummy homemade caramel apples rolled in peanuts to dispensing single shiny nickels the next and every year after. One nickel per child. What were they thinking? On all the Halloween nights after as we turned our backs to their front door we'd flick our buffed nickels in our bags and reminisce fondly about "the good old days."

But aside from that, these were the pre-snacksize days when a candy bar was a candy bar. Today's snack-size candy bars are barely big enough to fit in the molar cavities our full size, multiple bit candy bars produced. Caravelle. Nestles Crunch. Look. Big Hunk. Regular size bags of M&M's. Boxes of Jujubees that were so big you gripped them with your entire hand. We laughed at penny candy. Don't bother us with such empty offerings. Bring on the real stuff. Hand over the boxes of MilkDuds and Good & Plenty. Rustle up a herd of Black Cow suckers. Light up our candy cigarettes. Adorn us in candy necklaces, bee-stung beautiful red wax lips and black wax moustaches. We loved sour before sour was cool. It was the decade that gave birth to Lemonheads, SweeTarts, and Starbursts. It was sour enough to pucker your face but not to erode brain cells like their contemporary counterparts.

When the last house porch went dark, weighted under the burden of pillow cases ripping at the seams, we headed back to survey our sugar swag and begin the arduous process of negotiating trades. I was a shrewd sugar trader. I'd give up five non-chocolate items for a single coveted cherry cream filled Mountain Bar, my personal Kilimanjaro, but only after the acting performance of a lifetime.

"Trade my Jolly Ranchers?! No way! There's no way I'm letting go of my grape and watermelon Jolly Ranchers for. . .what? That one Mountain Bar? It's not even a bar. It looks like dog poo! I can't believe you'd even. . .sigh. Okay. Here's the deal I'm offering but listen close because I'm not going to say it again. I will give you 1, no 2 grape Jolly Ranchers and 3 watermelon Jolly Ranchers for that ugly chocolate mound thingy but you have to throw in a Tootsie Roll. That's the deal. You want it?"

I consumed a lifetime of parleyed cherry-cream filled Mountain Bars before I retired from the trick-or-treat circuit. I knew my stuff.

Last Halloween Dana and I bought a bag of snack-size Snickers. No children came thus salvaging my humiliation at having succumbed to purchasing snack-size anything. It was a low moment in my Halloween career and so this year we went all out and bought seven nylon mesh bags, each one holding 5 foil-wrapped bloodshot eyeballs and 4 dismembered foil-wrapped fingers that makes a shiny new nickel look like the chumb change it is. And so as the sun set we waited and waited to dispense the gory sugar booty but no children came. It was only when I was in the middle of putting on my jammies that I heard the nostalgic sound of children arriving on their candy quest. From where I stood listening at the top of the stairs I overheard the following interaction:

Dana: Hello!
Very Small People: Trick or treat! Trick or treat! Gigglegigglegiggle.
Dana: Trick or treat huh? Well, I think I have something here for you. Here's something for each of you.
Very Small People: Oh Boy! Wow! Oh! Thank you! Thank you! Assorted exclamations of delight and overwhelming happiness.
Dana: You're welcome Kids. Bye!
Very Small People: Bye! Faces and hands buried in their bags as they walk away.

The bag of foil-wrapped chocolate eyeballs and fingers were given in loving tribute to the people two houses down and on the other side of the street. Kind strangers who once went to all the trouble to unwrap hundreds of Kraft caramels, melt them down into a sticky mess, plunge sweet apples on sticks into the sugary goo, and roll them in crushed peanuts before setting them onto individual wax-paper circles just to make a bunch of sugar-greedy little children squeal with happiness. They gave me more than a caramel apple. They gave me a perfect memory and for that reason, I'll forgive them for the shiny nickels. I'm sure they meant well.


jeanne said...

This? Was brilliant. Dear God, you should submit this to a newspaper! I know one that just might print it.
"...pre-snacksize days when a candy bar was a candy bar"

Damn straight!!! and the nickel people! They were almost as bad as the PLAIN apple people!! of course, we had to hand over the apples (big loss) because of the razor blades...ah, the good old days!

Anita said...

So look who kept out from under her finisher's medal! Apparently candy bars grab your attention but 4 oz of chicken and 2 cups of green beans means nothing! :)

Razor blades in apples. . .never had any I'm happy to report but one of my Trick-or-Treat buddies had a bald patch on her head until Christmas due to a glob of Nair that we failed to notice when "the boys" were being boys on Halloween night.

jeanne said...

you got that right! candy=i'm so there.

nair on head? geeze doesn't everyone know that razor blades in apples is the NORMAL way to screw with kids on halloween???