Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ghouls and Gum Disease

Northern NY, where I'm from, is extraordinarily cold, to-build-a-fire kinda cold, and whatever costumes we worked by day were obliterated by heavy downs and Bills starter jackets by night. This, coupled with my parents distaste for wearing non-bathrobe items of clothing beyond 6 PM usually meant that on Halloween my dad would be dispatched to take me down to the old folks' home, where seniors would lie on their (adjustable) deathbeds, dispensing suckable candies/throat lozenges. I think this was supposed to be considered some sort of treat for them, but reflecting on the whole event years (of repression) later, I'm not sure the best way to ease the old souls' minds after a lifetime of hard work is to parade in younger, healthier specimens of themselves to ask them for shit. Either way, after my vocabulary became sufficiently large enough to include the words "creeped out" and "really uncomfortable", I managed to convince one of the 'rents to take me into the village where I went to school, so I could utter the words "Trick or Treat!" without some sort of painful reflection on my own mortality.

What I wanted from this man: Werther's. What I got: Halls.

Meanwhile, back at my house, my mother would be busily preparing giant ziploc bags full of king size candy bars, toys, sugar free gum, and toothbrushes and floss. As a dental hygienist, and a slightly unhinged one at that, she's supposed to intrinsically dislike Halloween, yet she took relish in the idea of giving treats to kids. We never actually got any trick-or-treaters, living too far out in the country to make the trip worth it, but each and every year, she stocked a bowl full of candy, which we continued to eat until December (see previously: Gastric Bypass Surgery) . I was personally required to submit to a thorough review of my bounty, not for fear of tampering (indeed, one year a highly, highly questionable, unwrapped "popcorn ball" sailed through the process without even a glance), but so that all hard sugary candies could be thrown away for fear of plaque. Later, when I turned 20 and discovered that my love of contraband Pixie Sticks and Mountain Dew had given me my first cavities, it was with no small amount of satisfaction that I informed my mother of the futility of her Halloween ritual. I don't doubt that if my family had any sort of money or possessions that could be sold for money, she would have disowned me right then.

Even worse? Razor-flavored suckers.

One of the benefits of living in a small village is that I was able to continue to trick-or-treat until the end of college without risk of embarassment, since a. all my friends were doing it b. I knew everyone and c. the town's teenage pregnancy rate left a healthy amount of leeway in terms of what exactly consituted "embarassing". There was a slight twinge of remorse upon showing up at my retired band teacher's door dressed as a Slutty French Maid when a decade earlier I had stood there as the Terminator (and lead snare drum!!), but the benefits of bringing a bag full of candy back to college after Fall Break far outweighed the downsides.

Is this the house giving out the Sarah Connors?

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At November 01, 2006 10:46 PM, Blogger TFKoP said...

ha ha! I love your posts. You are truely great at making your memories come alive with such biting humor.

My mom was also a dental assistant through the 70's when I was a trick-or-treater in Maine (I know all about the coat-over-the-costume-making-the-costume-unseeable situations). However, the costumes my sister and I always got stuck with were the store bought ones with the plastic faces that slide over your face and were held on by the tiniest of white rubber bands. And I'll never get the plasticky-smell of those masks out of my memory...be it from a Batman, Rocky, or Hong Kong Phooey mask.

But, living through that smell was worth it as I swam in the booty of my door-knocking haul.

Nowadays I don't get many trick-or-treaters at my South Philly home, but the amount of candy I end up with hasn't lessened...I buy a lot of candy by convincing myself that "this is the year I'll have a ton of kids come by", which still doesn't happen.

Oh well...one more Kit Kat bar has just become a snack, and there's at least another 50 still waiting their turn.

At November 02, 2006 6:28 PM, Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

Your post brought back memories as well as chuckles. Growing up on Long Island, I belonged to a troop of child entertainers who were booked for all the old age and veteran's homes in the area.

It was really hard to sing a note with death staring me in the face, especially since our elderly captive audiences enjoyed telling us about when THEY were young, just like us. The implications were unavoidable, even for children.

It was much scarier than Halloween.

At November 07, 2006 4:02 PM, Blogger copyranter said...

"No, but I got some old Mary Janes."


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