Friday, October 30, 2009

Candy Goggles

I grew up in a small town neighborhood with blocks upon blocks of houses stacked very close to one another. The blocks were long and narrow, roughly fifteen houses by five houses. This meant one thing to a kid - lots of Halloween candy to be had.

As you can see, there were many houses. We lived on the left side of Whitney Avenue, on Bedford Avenue, and never crossed to the other side. Growing up, Whitney Avenue was the biggest street around - two lanes on each side, and the crosswalk was a few blocks away. The houses on the other side were a little bigger, but that also meant less houses per block.

As kids we started with the cute plastic pumpkins to hold our candy. Getting older, we tried large plastic bags but eventually switched to pillowcases for their durability and size. They held a lot of candy, and always one toothbrush, given out by the dentist around the corner.

We were able to cover a lot of ground especially after it was deemed alright to go out without parental supervision. The first year of just going with friends, the plan was usually to do one side of the neighborhood, come home, dump the current candy stash on the dining room table, then go out to complete the route. We always had a large haul, which lead to my sister and I trading the ones we didn't like - she'd offer up her 3 Musketeers and I'd exchange for Milky Way or something I knew she'd like. I didn't have a candy I didn't like. I wasn't picky.

The first year I ever dared to do the other side of Whitney Avenue was in 7th grade. My friend Kerry lived on that side, so my friend Lisa and I were dropped off there to use it as a starting point. It was strange trying the other side of the road for a change, but we were able to cover some ground. As much as middle school was starting to alter my main focus to girls, I still liked candy.

The one house I'll always remember during that night was very strange. We stood at the end of the walkway staring at the flickering porch light, trying to decide if it was on or off. The cardinal rule was that if the light was off, the people were either out of candy or didn't want to have kids come to their door all night. After mulling it over, we walked up and rang the doorbell.

The door opened to an older man with a dazed look on his face. "Trick or Treat," we said to him, but he still remained confused. "Happy Halloween?" I said. He still looked like he was not sure what was going on. The wrinkles in his forehead shifted, he looked down at his watch and said "Halloween?" then shut the door. We looked at each other, unsure if we were supposed to remain on the step, when the door opened again.

The man was holding a half used six pack of Pepsi. He casually took one off the rings for each of us as he said "One for you... one for you... and one for you." Without saying anything else, he shut the door and the light was definitively shut off. The first rule of Halloween was to not eat anything that was strange or unwrapped. While this was strange, the cans were still sealed, so we gladly all drank them the next day at school lunch.

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