It’s a funny thing about Halloween. They say it’s for the children, but somehow I’m sat here in The Newport House, more than a week after the whole affair, clutching my stomach and praying to never see the inside of our bathroom again after a severe candy overdose that has now lasted more than a week. I’m 25 years old, damnit. Halloween is for the kids.
In the neighborhood where I grew up, in East Jesus Nowhere, Halloween was a less-is-more holiday. Trick-or-Treating lasted for three hours. Not because there were that many trick-or-treaters; it just took that long for us to trek from one house to the next. There were 10 homes to visit and three miles to walk, but you got your money’s worth. With so few mouths to feed, the neighbors could afford to really fork over the goods – King Size Hershey Bars, handfuls of Reese’s Cups, pre-packed Ziploc grab-bags. You got fewer treats, but it was only the hard stuff.
Carrie lived at the top of a 90-degree hill, so her family had no hope for trick-or-treaters. It’s not that kids in her neighborhood were lazy, but after walking a good three miles in one night, ain’t nobody gonna wanna hike up a hill. Country kids are hearty, but we’re not crazy. Although, ironically, the hike could have warded off the juvenile diabetes.
At The Newport House, Halloween is a more-is-more holiday for all involved. More houses, more candy, more costumes, more kids, more mouths, more diabetes. And the children don’t come in scattered groups of twos and threes, no sir. They come in droves. They come by the car-load and by the truck-load. They come dressed as characters I’m too old to recognize and they come dressed as no apparent character at all. They come on foot, they come in their mothers’ arms and on their fathers’ shoulders, and they come with parents they don’t even belong to. One woman approached our house with a brood of seven children, saying, “How did you four end up with me? Does your mother know where you are?”
Trick-or-treating begins before the sun goes down and lasts until after 9 p.m. Things were in full swing by the time I got home from work – parking was a nightmare and navigating was a circus. I had to part a Red Sea of Spidermen just to get up to my door. Once inside, I seized the candy and ripped it open, spilling an assortment of 100-count bags into a bowl. There were thousands of them out there and no telling what they might do if they thought we were holding out.
Carrie and I had three bags, and our friend Jill, who is also from East Jesus Nowhere and wanted to experience the fun, brought three bags of her own. We started out giving two pieces, but that fell by the wayside faster than Miley’s self-respect. It was inefficient to go indoors, so we sat on the front porch doling out goodies and proceeded to eat the candy almost as fast as we were passing it out. (We couldn’t even go inside long enough to eat dinner…we were starving!)
We had been warned about the phenomenon of Halloween in the city by our parents, but this was unreal. The three of us had never even seen that many people in one place.
At about 8:30 p.m., my mother texted me: “Getting many trick-or-treaters?”
“Current count: 1,500,” I responded.
“Are you kidding?!”
I was kidding…I think.
So with hundreds of candy grabbers, how did I gorge myself to illness? Around 8:30 it began to rain; crowds thinned for the remainder of the evening. We still didn’t end up with much, but combine our leftovers and what I swiped during the madness with the pumpkin full of bite-size bars my mom sent us to cure our gluttony, and we had just enough, apparently. I think I paced myself better at age 8 on King-Size Hershey Bars. I’ve written half of this from the bathroom.
Here’s to Halloween. And another chocolate bar down the drain…or gullet.