new Things I Ate in Cambodia: happy halloween everybody

Saturday, November 01, 2008

happy halloween everybody

I adored Halloween coming up. I was lucky: I lived in a nice safe suburb and had fairly permissive parents, I was able to carry out my kid imperative and run around the neighborhood on a candy-seeking mission til' unfashionably late hours. My two partners in crime, Michael and Mark, would canvass the burb's quite elaborately once we hit the advanced ages of 9 and 10. I recall one year where we waged assault on two or three different subdivisions and came home with what seemed like a million zillion pounds of candy, a veritable mountain. (Pillowcases were of course the only way to go for the serious, dedicated Trick or Treater - those lame ass little pumpkin buckets held about 1/8th of the candy we anticipated scoring.)

Costumes were of course a important affair with only one real requirement: They Must Not Be Girly. I recall one year I intended to go as a cat but the costume got screwed up somehow (or I was just being a shit) and I found myself sniffling in my parent's bathroom about how it TOTALLY DID NOT LOOK LIKE A CAT AND THIS SUCKED AND I HATED IT. I managed to rally (hey, there was going to be candy) and decided that I was, well, vermin instead. Which meant I got go around to all the houses in the neighborhood and gleefully proclaim myself to be VERMIN. (I think I really got off on confusing people.)

I settled into a were wolf theme after that and it seemed to work out fine for me - I had a couple of pretty awesome werewolf masks that saw a lot of use over the years. I was especially amused when I was constantly mistaken for a boy because of course no girl in her right mind would go as a blood-stained gory werewolf. Hah! I also went as a were-lion one year, which I swear was actually kinda cool: I don't know who decided to manufacture Creepy Lion Masks but I am in debt to them.

Candy was of course The Ultimate Reason for the holiday. I am definitely not a sugar freak now in my dotage, but as a kidlet, I was all over it.

My favorites:

-Full size candy bars. Memo to all People Who Give Out Candy: give out the full size stuff and you will become a neighborhood god, a deity to be worshipped and talked about in hushed tones months after. (Seriously, we would stop in the middle of conversaiton and say things like, "..You remember those full size Hershey's bars at the Robert's house?".) I think becoming a minor neighborhood pagan idol is pretty cool. Once I have my own actual house, I am so giving out the full size stuff.

- Reese's Peanut Butter cups, preferably the big ones. I was never into those oh-so-wacky Ways To Eat A Peanut Butter cup stunts like some people, but I still enjoyed eating them slowly and with maximal appreciation. I still love that chalky, salty bit in the middle.

- Gummy candies, all sorts. I still harbor a secret adoration of all things gummy and these were the absolute best. I loved those intensely flavored Amazin' Fruit bears, although the Halloween themed pear flavor was...weird. Extra points for gory, realistic gummy body parts - eyeballs, bloody hands. Or gummy cheeseburgers. Oh, gummy cheeseburgers.

- Electric blue anything. Electric blue candy was a form of currency in kid-land. I suspect this is universal in the kid pysche. Especially favored were blue Warheads (make your tounge completly numb!) and bright blue Giant Blow-Pops. I feel sorry for all those children today whose parents completely subscribe to the organic all-natural-everything notion. Those kids will never experience the profound joy of an electric blue tounge and a vague headache from the intake of exotic chemicals. I weep for them.

Worst Candies?

- Dots and Milk Duds both were incredibly sticky, which really freaked me out since I had serious braces going on. I would eat either of these candies and become convinced that 1. my braces would come off in a single hideous mass and 2. the next day would involve me spending five hours in the orthodontists chair and a long, angry lecture from my parents. I have not had braces for a very long time now and still can't look at the damn things without cringing.

- Tootsie Rolls, all sorts. What half-assed chocolate flavor. Especially awful were the banana-flavored Midgee's, inevitably the last candy to be consumed (and even then under duress.) Blech. Somewhat redeemed by blue raspberry Tootsie Roll Pops, but even then, only barely.

"Healthy" Halloween candy or treats. Inevitably given out by the neighborhood dentist/clueless dementia victim/pedantic asshole. Don't do this, people. Your house shall be forever marked. This was not quite as bad as those people who were OBVIOUSLY home and OBVIOUSLY not answering their doors, but only by degrees. (Another hint: if you are going to be away, be forewarned that leaving candy by the door, while sweet, is subject to serious abuse by non-parentally supervised trick or treaters. Just saying. WE certainly never dumped half a bowl of communal Halloween candy into OUR pillowcases. NEVER.)

Halloween, like many holidays, loses awesomeness with age. I know, I know, trick or treating gives way to boozing and giant parties with silly costumes, and there is something to be said for that - but to be honest, that kind of fun can be had every single day in college in New Orleans (especially the costumes part.) I remember being extremely disappointed when I turned 13 and magically Every Costume Had To Be Sexy. Suddenly weird/scary/funny was not enough: maximal sluttiness was the only way to go if you were a girl and had any hope of social advancement. I remember this all came to a head at a school dance when I was about 15 and all the girls showed up in the skankiest outfits their parents allowed them out the door in - Daisy Duke, dirty Catholic school girl, Naughty Nurse, Kinky Cop, you name it.

I was a werewolf. In a dress. You may have guessed I was not very cool in high school.

The trauma is mostly over with. I had a very fun Halloween this year - participated in the craziness on Frenchmen street in the corner, saw a bizarre but awesome Quintron show at One Eyed Jacks, drank vodka shots and ran around with a prosthetic arm growing out of my chest (long story) - but it still wasn't as fun as those early days of running around the neighborhood in the pursuit of the almighty sugar god. Sigh. Ashes to ashes, etc etc.

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