At the end of the night, you dumped your loot on the table and surveyed it. Snickers. Kit Kats. Milky Ways. The Holy Trinity of Chocolate. You knew you would have to eat as much of it as soon as possible because Dad was eyeballing them too.
Then there was the mid-tier candy–stuff like Sweet Tarts, Smarties, and Now & Laters–you enjoyed those too, but you didn’t have to fight for them or squirrel them away. This kind of stuff is the reason that years later, the dentist would say the words “pit in tooth, small concavity,” and you would know it was the goddamned Smarties. But for now, you arranged the small round candies by pastel color on the table in front of you, and then ate them in groupings.
And then there would always be the metric ton of unexciting candy: the handfuls of Tootsie Rolls and Mary Janes lobbed in your bucket; the terminally-ill-colored chews in the black and orange wrappers, the cough-syrup-flavored Strawberries. Old people candy. Old people loved to hand this stuff out. I can hear my grandmother saying she “used to love these when [she] was just a little girl,” holding a Charleston Chew out in her speckled hand.
You know the house.
It would be the house that wasn’t decorated, but a porch light would still be on. You had a bad feeling about it. The door step smelled like old people before you even rang the bell. Ding DONG.
A wait. You adjusted your mask. Behind you, you could hear other Trick-or-Treaters rustling up to the porch. A small crowd was waiting now.
What do they think, that you got all night for this? You had to get home for some Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors.
An old woman hobbled toward the door, a gummy smile on her face.
“TRICKORTReee….” everyone said. Not in unison. “…eeEEAT.”
Through the eye holes of your mask, you see her palsy hand dropping in the Tootsie Rolls. Thud. You can feel the disappointment crawling through. A waste of valuable Trick or Treating time.
“Thank you,” you said though gritted teeth. You did have manners, afterall.
Tootsie Rolls suck.
Now some people will say they love Tootsie Rolls, like my girlfriend. I’m going to try some armchair “candy psychology” here. To eat a Tootsie Roll, you have to be patient. There’s a lot of chewing, slowness, savoring going on. You can’t inhale them like Kit Kats.
She’s the patient one, the second-born. Yes, a relationship between Tootsie Rolls and birth order. I’m brilliant and I’m submitting it to a peer-reviewed journal tomorrow. So she got stuck with the mid-tier and bottom-rung candy after her brother wolfed down all the good chocolate. She learned patience and acceptance. She’s also dating me.
The first born is more aggressive. Wants candy now. No time for chewing. I’m the first born. I’m a wheeler and dealer. I could totally get my sister to trade me her Reese cup for my ten Tootsie Rolls. I’d count them out on the table to prove I wasn’t ripping her off. She was rightly skeptical at my proposals and ideas. One…two…three…look how many more pieces you’re getting–ten more pieces–when I’m only getting one. It wasn’t just a good deal; it was a pragmatic deal. And maybe she liked Tootsie Rolls too.
But it could be worse yet. At least Tootsie Rolls were still edible. Trick or Treating could be downright brutal. You could get the kind of stuff every kid dreads. Boxes of raisins. The peppermints leftover from the Christmas candy dish. And the most grievous sin of them all: Pennies.
Well I guess it could still get worse–you could have been little Jimmy, who got arsenic-laced ant traps in his candy pail. Or poor old Charlie Brown, who just got rocks.
Or still worse. You could be a younger sibling.
“One…two…three…four…OK, you got me. I’ll even throw in a couple pennies.”