Of Tricking Gone By

Next time I see my sister, I’m going to have to compare notes on Halloween when we were kids.


Monday night, I was sitting here in the living room, watching the girls sort, divide, and distribute their candy. I’m pretty sure all kids who partake in the trick-or-treat ritual do the same thing, eliminating the candy they don’t like (I’m fairly sure that I was the only kid on the planet to like Mounds and Almond Joy bars), and gleefully counting the duplicated boxes of Milk Duds (not a huge carmel fan).


Hannah organized all of the candy by kind, to the point where she had probably 20 small piles of 3 or 4 of the same candy in each. Then she grabbed the items she wasn’t interested in and gave them away.


Zoe merely sorted hers into “want” and “ick” piles and gave away everything in the latter collection.


When I was a kid, Julie and I would trick-or-treat up and down the block and not much further. But it always seemed like damned near everyone was home, and we just used those plastic jack-o-lantern buckets anyway, so by the time we’d get home, they were getting full. There were a couple of houses that I really didn’t care about, because they never handed out anything good, anyway: the old couple next door to the retired firefighter always seemed to give away those red and white round mints. Those were a waste of my time. I’d make Julie knock on the doors or ring the doorbells of the houses that I really didn’t want to go to, mostly because I knew she wanted the candy more than I did. Why I didn’t want to go to some houses is kind of a mystery, except that I felt like I didn’t really know those people and just didn’t feel the need to shake them down for sweets.


After the block, we’d jump in the car and head up to Melvin and Nelda’s. Nelda would have a treat bag of some sort prepared for us, usually in brown paper lunch bags. I think those peanut butter and cheese cracker sandwich snack packs were usually part of it, and yes, my thought on those was “Really? Who thinks about marrying cheese crackers and peanut butter? Does this really happen on its own in the world?”


See? Fussy child.


But I recall the great horse-trading sessions Julie and I would launch into after our trick-or-treating. I knew she was a candy fanatic–I’m not certain there were very many things she didn’t like. But she did have favorites, and most of those fell into line with the things that I didn’t like at all: licorice, jelly beans, gum drops, Milk Duds… I’d extract as many freebies as I could (the aforementioned Almond Joy and Mounds were gimmes), and then we’d set about the business: one package of Milk Duds for a 3 Musketeers; two Dots for the Tootsie Rolls, perhaps.


Outside of the fact that having my own kids sort through their candy made me realize I was a very picky child when it comes to candy, I think it also illustrates a great deal of the dynamic between my sister and I when we were kids.


I hated Halloween, and I’m not sure hate isn’t too strong a word. I mean, what’s the point of this supposed holiday? Dressing up, trying to scare people intentionally, and trying to collect candy? (Why yes, I’m a reporter this year. See my microphone, and I’m wearing a sportcoat…What the hell’s wrong with you? No, it’s not meant to be scary, it’s original and I didn’t want to wear a mask or makeup…Geez…) What’s the point? Why should I care?


Ah, yes. To each their own. Julie loved Halloween, because it brought candy. And maybe I didn’t hate it as much as I was just ambivalent about it. It’s kind of like Valentines Day: if you’re popular or have a date, it’s a wonderful day; if not, it’s kind of forced on you.


So we’d trade our candy. I’d try to make sure to give mom some of my Almond Joy and Mounds bars, because those always have been some of her favorites, and let’s face it, adults probably would buy bags of them to give away because they knew any the kids got would come to them anyway. It probably would have been easier to wrap candy in lettuce.


I would have eaten that anyway…


Julie would usually have more candy than I did, but honestly, I wouldn’t know what to do with that much candy anyway. Julie’s would be gone in a matter of a few days, in spite of how much rationing mom would try to do. And I think I’d end up with an odd Snickers bar or Slo-Poke at the bottom of my bucket anyway. So how did I end up with the genes to make me huge???


See you tomorrow.