The year before was a complete disappointment for all of us. A timely newsletter from the school reminded parents of the dangers of a diet too high in sugar, and that killed our joy. Worse yet: there were suggestions. “Instead of a Rice Krispy treat, why not a rice cake? Rather than a candy bar, maybe try an apple! If you’re thinking about Twizzlers, why not a pencil?”
If you wish to see a maniacally enraged, completely unhinged seven-year-old, ask him to dress up, promise him candy, have him come to your door step, and then give him school supplies.
After a contemptuous night, we woke the next morning to reports of some neighborhoods discovering razor blades in fruit that was handed out to kids. Everyone was mortified. How could anyone even think of doing such a thing? And the kids laughed, unthreatened, because we knew that we weren’t going to eat the damn apples any way.
Time marched on, and the following year another newsletter came from the school telling parents to beware of treats handed out on Halloween, and how it was probably safer to only give and accept factory-sealed candy from strangers. My sister and I read this together at the dinner table. Our eyes got wide and she whispered to me, “Jackpot.”
“What was that?” Mom asked.
“Jack got his Halloween costume. He’s going to be a pirate this year just like Frank,” she said, which was mostly true. But Jack and I were hatching a plan of our own.
We knew the candy would flow freely from the columned stoops of our neighbors’ homes, and we were insatiable. We were going for the con. We’d dress as pirates, but would nab the spare sheets from his parents’ closet, cut holes for eyes, and make a second round through the neighborhood as ghosts, completely covered and anonymous. We set out that night ready to swindle the neighborhood. Jack said this could be the most epic stunt we had ever attempted. “Yep,” I said. “We just can’t get caught.”
And you know what? Jack and I did dress up as pirates, and we did cut holes in his parents’ white sheets, and the candy did flow like milk and honey, and we did make a second pass through the neighborhood unnoticed. We changed our shoes. We threw our voices when we screamed “trick or treat.” We made people assume we didn’t talk much because we were ghosts. And we got away with it. Good god, we got away with it.
Back home, we threw off the sheets and dumped everything out on the living room carpet. It was magic. Twizzlers and Twix, and those little sugar pods on the strip of paper, and gummi bears and worms, Peach-Os and Kit Kats and Smarties, one conspicuous pair of wax lips, and every other kind of candy you could imagine. We carefully made our first selections for the feast of seven sugars, and dug in.
“Where did all of this come from? Why do you have so much more than your sister?” my mother asked. I shrugged and feigned ignorance.
Illustration by Frank Chimero
Frank Chimero is a graphic designer, teacher, writer, and creative person in Portland, Oregon. You can find him on the interwebs at FrankChimero.com.