Tag Archives: too much halloween

Candy Barred

You know you’re getting old when you start off a sentence with “Back when I was a kid–”

But that’s exactly what I did this morning when my daughter woke up, found out Halloween was over, and burst into copious tears.

“B-b-but Daddy told me Halloween goes on for days!” she wailed.

“I think he meant days in advance,” I said drily. Off her blank look I added “you’ve been celebrating it for roughly two weeks.”

Time means little to a four year old. Elapsed time, even less. Elapsed time during which the child was eating more candy than any adult should in a decade and feeling absolutely fantastic about it? Unintelligible.

“Look,” I went on, “back when I was a kid, Halloween was only one night. About three hours. That was all we got.”

“Really?” Myra-Jean responded in a quavering voice.

“Yup.” I cuddled her a little closer–we were in her bed together, she under the blankets, me on top of them. “We didn’t have the Halloween festivals leading up to it, the block parties, the “Boo on the Boolevards.” We didn’t trick or treat at Starbucks a week before. We didn’t even have Starbucks. ”

She looked at me, obviously pained. “Whoa.”

I built up steam. “It was one night. A little sliver of time. We didn’t even get face painted at school. Heck,” I went on, musingly, “I don’t think I got face painted at all until I was, like, twenty.”

MJ started crying again. I should’ve quit when I was ahead.

“The point is,” I went on, stroking her forehead, “you get a lot more Halloween than me or Daddy ever did. So I’m sorry it’s over, but–”

Myra-Jean sobbed harder. “It’s really over?”

I looked at her in disbelief. “Didn’t we just discuss this?”

Her cries rose loudly in the small, morning-shadowed room. Jesus. You’d think her dog had just died. She would definitely wake Mike.

“Let’s go get some breakfast.” The kitchen was a bit farther from our bedroom.

Feeding the animals distracted her for a few minutes, but soon Myra-Jean was whimpering again. Standing by the dining room table, she poked at the ruined finish of the wood with a stray fork. “Mama. I’m not happy.”

“You don’t say.” Grabbing the utensil gently out of her hand I tossed it into the sink. Just because she was grieving didn’t mean she got to be destructive.

“I want to go trick or treating one more time!”

I sighed, staring at her uselessly. I was out of ideas. At my feet, Walter mewled. Mina nipped at him. Walter hissed. Myra-Jean screamed.

“Mina!” I shouted. “Walter. Myra-Jean! All of you calm down!”

Enter Mike. No big surprise. Hard to imagine how anyone could sleep through an uproar of such Biblical proportions.

“What’s going on?” he asked blearily.

Handing him a cup of coffee, I explained. “Mina’s trying to kill Walter, as usual. Also,” trying to keep any trace of sarcasm out of my voice,”Myra-Jean is feeling really sad because Halloween is over.”

Mike nodded gravely and turned to MJ. “You know, you can still wear your costume any time you–”

I had tried this tack already, and knew where it was going. I covered my ears.

“I don’t care about my costume! I want to trick or treat!”

“OK,” Mike said calmly. Really calmly, considering the hearing damage he’d just incurred. “You know,” he continued, “back when we were kids–”

“I tried this,” I interjected quietly.

Deaf to my warning, he went on. “Back when we were kids Halloween only lasted for one night.”

Shaking my head, I began washing dishes. Mike talked for a few minutes, repeating essentially what I’d said earlier. But he closed with something new, something said in a fun and conspiratorial voice:

“Even though trick or treating is done, we still have the candy! Lots of it! Candy eating goes on for awhile.”

MJ’s head swivelled towards me. “But Mama said no more candy after Halloween.”

Wuh-whoa. I’d forgotten about that conversation.

MIke cocked his head at me, then looked back at her. “I think she meant no more trick or treating.”

“No,” MJ declared. “Mama said I could only eat candy on Halloween, and after that it was only for ‘special occasions’.” She emphasized the latter phrase carefully, although she had no idea what it meant.

MIke shot a look at me.

Wincing, I muttered ruefully “I think I might have said that.”


“I wasn’t really thinking,” I squeaked. “Sugar’s just so bad for you.”

Mike nodded slowly. “So that’s why she was shoving candy in her mouth last night like a just-freed prisoner of war.”

How poetic. I nodded. “It might’ve been.”

“Is this what your parents did?” Mike demanded.

“No.” I winced. I could feel the word HYPOCRITE flashing over my head like a Broadway marquee. “We ate candy all month.”

Mike shook his head, then smiled. He wasn’t mad. He was just laughing at me. Which is worse. I couldn’t blame him.

I turned to MJ. “I’m sorry, honey. Of course you can still eat your candy. For many days to come. Forever.” Or at least a week, I added in my mind.

Myra-Jean smiled for the first time that morning.

When I left the kitchen she and Mike were happily sorting her booty into piles. There was a lot of it. An indecent amount. Absolutely no more trick or treating was necessary.

Just a little bit more give and take by the old timers.

Or one in particular.

If only you could trick or treat for that.


Bah Halloweenbug

Since when did Halloween become a week-long event? That’s my first question.

When I was a kid the whole holiday lasted three hours. If you were lucky, and didn’t get egged by the neighborhood toughs in your first hour out. Or mugged. That happened sometimes, too. I grew up in Brooklyn. Pre-Bratton.

Assuming you remained unyolked and un-robbed, you got one night. You grabbed your sugary lucre, went home, ate until you puked, and were done. If your parents were like mine, the dog inevitably “ate” your bag of candy sometime on November 1st — well before you could get to the much-coveted Milky Ways in the bottom. This not-so-white lie earned the aforementioned mutt much undeserved enmity. It saved my parents, though, from the true horror of a week-long sugar binge with its attendant mood swings, trade wars, and chocolate stains. I get it now. I plan, in fact, to use the exact same tactic with Myra-Jean. Thus are such things passed down through the generations. I surely have ancient forebears who said: “Forsooth, my lad — she hath eaten your sugarplum.” Further back, on the Siberian plains, my Mongol ancestors just ate the dog.

Anyway. The point is, Halloween goes on for fucking ever. It’s three days away and I’m already sick of it. I’m sick of the candy, the cake pops — what the hell are those anyway? — and the juice boxes. Which, incidentally, I’m always sick of. But more so now. I’m sick of people walking around with screws sticking out of their temples, blood slashed across their necks, and axes in their skulls. I’m sick of everything that is, or could be construed to be, scary. Have you tried explaining such things to a three-year old?

“Mommy? What’s a vampire?”

“A vampire? Um, just, well, he’s a sort of clown, honey.”

“Why does he have big teeth?”

“Well, he’s sort of a…cat clown.”

“Why does he have red on his teeth?”

“Red? Um…catsup! He’s a cat-toothed, catsup-eating clown! Silly vampire!”


We’ve had questions about all of it. And we do our best. Ghosts? Clowns in sheets. Werewolves? Big puppy dogs. Mummies? Tape clowns. Witches? Lady clowns. Cobwebs? October is spider season! Thank God we haven’t come across one of those Scream masks yet, but it’s just a matter of time. I don’t think I’ll be able to clown my way out of that one. I mean, we’re talking about my kid, here. She’s terrified of leaf blowers. How’s she going to feel about a black-robed, over-sanguinated crazy-face? My guess is not good.

So, there’s the sugar. There’s the fear. Let’s not even discuss the costume-related fights, expenditure, and indecision. “I want to be a skunk. No, a bunny. No! A horseless carriage. I’m a zebra. I’m a bathtub! I don’t want to wear a costume! I DON’T WANT TO WEAR THAT COSTUME!!!! AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Good times.

Then there are the parties. So goddam many of them! What is this, Christmas? Are we in a season now? Every block has a party. Every shopping area has an “On the Boo-levard.” Every school does a Halloween “fest” of some kind. Many are fundraisers. You feel you should go. Some of them are fun. Some are not. Most have alcohol. This is good, as all are crowded, loud, and frenetic. I don’t drink, however, and neither does my daughter. The best we can hope for is a shot of protein to keep us going, but unfortunately so much stimulation is less than conducive to sensible eating. Plus, try getting rice and beans down a kid’s gullet when a lollipop is permanently jammed between her teeth. Want to meet Freddy Kreuger for real? Give that sucker a yank.

And with each party, its aftermath. Smeared face paint. Bedraggled costume. Post-sugar meltdown. Sleep, an unwanted diplomat, ejected from the country. Chaos ensues. Rioting. Protective gear. The child is in tears. The grown-ups are in tears. The dog is in tears. She knows what’s coming.

Then, the next day, you wake up and do it all again. We have another party this afternoon. We’re all tired. It’s 90 degrees outside. I’m going as an unshowered parent in shorts and a tee-shirt.

As for MJ? Judging by yesterday’s performance she’ll be going as a typical three-year-old: naked, mad, and demanding confections.

Happy Halloween, all!

Week, that is.