The Halloween days of yore

A life-long search for the sugar rush — sometimes some subterfuge needed.

I’m sitting at my desk, minding my own business, typing away. When in comes our office manager with Halloween candy to give away to our customers.

Curse her! From my vantage point I couldn’t even see the box, but it stared at me. Coaxing me over for a taste. It was as if a candy bar wrapper was picking me up by the scruff of the neck and dragging me over to the box. Leave me alone!

Eventually having a mini chocolate bar started to become a better idea. Maybe I could have just one? I mean it’s Halloween after all, the one day a year where hording candy is not only encouraged but sweet treats are thrown at you wherever you go. The horror!

So I sneak up to the box with the candy, and find not one but four chocolate bars I’d like to eat. Four delicious varieties of chocolate and toffee and caramel. How do I pick just one? The truth is I can’t, and I coyly stuffed all four varieties into my pocket. For shame.

Riddled with guilt, I ate one after another. All four wrappers were empty now, tossed in the trash. Crunchie, Aero, Caramilk, Mr. Big. Blast! I have no willpower!

A few hours later, the box was calling to me again. Come on, one more, it said. I kept my head down. Typed on my keyboard with fierce dedication. The box had now been moved and it was in my sight line. Memories of my trick-or-treating days came back to me. The wonderful thrill of bringing home a pillow case filled with loot.

My Halloween ritual always began weeks before the day. I would run around the house and collect each pillow case I could find – empty or not. I would lay each sack out on the living room floor and pair each one up. The bigger one went in the maybe pile, the smaller ones were discarded like trash and most likely left there. The maybe pile was sized off until I had the biggest pillowcase in the entire house. Who knows what delight I would have discovered if we had a body pillow under our roof – perhaps this is precisely the reason we never did have one.

On the night of Halloween I’d dress up in my costume of choice. I was once Pippi Longstocking, this was my favourite Halloween costume of all time. I always loved wearing my costume to school better than out trick or treating because growing up in Northern Ontario, all costumes had to be able to fit over a snowsuit. We might as well have all dressed up as the Michelin Man or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Once we got home, freezing and exhausted – not enough Pepsi cans handed out to give us the caffeine boost needed to do another block – I would spread my candy out on the floor, and the sorting process began. All the bags with miscellaneous items were opened and dumped out. Traditional candy like suckers, gumballs and toffees were put in one pile, glorious mounds of mini chocolate bars in another and then the chips. Each category would be put in its own bowl and Mom would be without them until I finished them off – sometimes it took months.

Every day at school for the weeks thereafter would be filled with chocolate bars. A sandwich and a Snickers. Pizza Pop and a Tootsie Pop. Hot dog and a roll of Lifesavers.

As the years went on I also grew too tall to be considered young enough for trick-or-treating. I remember the first time a lady answered the door, me still in middle school, her unconvinced I was appropriately young enough to still be out searching for candy on All-Hallows Eve. They always gave me less candy than my friends.

I would play clever tricks like standing on the bottom step with my friends in front of me. That worked for a time, but eventually I had to give it up. It was time to retire from my illustrious trick-or-treating career.

Now I’ve lost my train of thought, reflecting back on the Halloween days of yore. It could be that, or I’m experiencing a sugar rush from the 15 more chocolate bars I consumed in the writing of this column and can no longer concentrate on anything but seeing the end of that box of Townsman candy.