I don’t have any kids of my own, but I do have a mini-herd of godchildren that my dearest friend keeps popping out, and that she graciously allows me to borrow at will, so this Halloween I got to join them for the first trick-or-treating I’ve done since I was a kid myself. It was… informative.
There I was in my cute Zelda Fitzgerald costume, worrying about walking for blocks in my heels and getting cold in my sleeveless dress. Little did I know my puny problems were as nothing when compared to the epic battle for candy that would be unfolding before my eyes.
Imagine you’re my goddaughter, a first grader armed with way too much imagination and a fairy costume. Embarking out into yet another Halloween night.
Haunted houses will be truly, pants-wettingly terrifying. Grownups will laugh at your horror when you’re asked to navigate around strobe lights, through spider webs, and past the life-sized, moving zombie that’s crawling out of the flower bed. Darkness is almost certainly your enemy – monsters are clearly lurking just outside your range of vision. Strangers are allowed to approach you from all sides cackling maniacally and threatening bodily harm to you in the name of hilarious holiday fun (“Eeee hee hee hee… I’m a wicked witch! I’m going to eat you up!” “BWAH ha ha ha, I am the skeleton of the undead, come to take you with me to the underworld!” “Oh hey, sure yah, I’m Sarah Palin, and I shoot wolves out of helicopters dontcha know!”).
Exhaustion will set in. Block after unending block of houses will unfold before you. This is way, WAY past your bedtime.
And through it all, you will persevere on. Maybe you’ll cry a little. Maybe you’ll get lost and have to be tracked down three blocks away. Maybe you’ll punch your little sister in the head. All this is beside the point. Halloween is about one thing, and one thing only:
THE PURSUIT OF CANDY
Candy. All the candy you can carry. All the candy you can fit in your mouth. Free candy as a reward for uttering magic, nonsensical words the grown-ups have taught you. Enormous bowls of candy, left negligently around households where “dessert” usually means “half a grapefruit after dinner.” Showers and rainbows and piles and hoards of precious, delicious, amazing CANDY.
If you admit defeat, Mom will take you home. If you’re tired/cold/itchy from your ill-chosen costume, you can just stop right now.
…but then you won’t get any candy from the next house. Or the next. Who knows, the next block might be giving out king sized bars, instead of this “fun size” bullshit.
ARE YOU HEARING ME, PEOPLE?! THIS IS THE ONE NIGHT A YEAR WHEN ANY SELF-RESPECTING CHILD CAN FORCE-FEED HERSELF HER HEAD’S WEIGHT IN CANDY. HELL, THIS IS THE ONE NIGHT A YEAR YOU CAN EVEN GET YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD’S WEIGHT IN CANDY!
I watched children running in circles in sugar-induced hazes that looked more intense than your average acid trip. Kids were melting down left, right, and center as if the End of Days were upon us and they despaired for mankind’s sins. Wands, scythes, and light sabers were used indiscriminately to bring down the opposition, just in case the next house turns out to be running low and doesn’t have enough for both of you. It was like walking through a battleground. And not some pansy Spanish-American battle either; I’m talkin’ full-blown trench warfare, complete with grenade launchers and mustard gas.
And at the end of the night, after the blood-and-chocolate smeared children collapse exhausted into bed, what do the grown-ups do? Head straight into the living room and steal as much candy as they want, picking out the best stuff for themselves.