As a kid, I took Halloween seriously. I mean, heck, there was only one day out of the whole year where candy was free and Halloween was it.
Making the most of the night was paramount to sugar success. We had a limited amount of time before our neighbors shut off their porch lights and went to bed so we had to work to be both prudent and pragmatic with our time. I prepared for the holiday with a Type-A approach.
The following information is true. I sort of wish it weren’t.
Back in the day, I started planning our candy acquiring route mid-October. I studied the layout of our neighborhood, counted blocks and houses in order to map out the most expedient trick-or-treating course so my friends and I never had to backtrack or cross the street more often than necessary. Any extra steps in our path meant added time and effort. Our goal was to be shrewd, systematic and successful in our candy collection.
Further, we started at the corner farthest from my house and worked our way inward so that at the end we’d be home. I thought it was ingenious — not to mention efficient.
Thinking back, it sort of was. I was a kid before my time.
After returning from our candy procurement we set about the task of sorting. My sister and I spilled our sacks onto separate ends of the living room and began grouping and counting. Seven Kit Kats, 14 Skittles, nine Laffy Taffys, a popcorn ball and so on. Each different type had its own pile on the floor.
When we finished sorting and counting our loot, the trading began. I liked Reese’s and my sister preferred Snickers, so we’d make a few swaps to bulk up on our favorites. It goes without saying that during the sorting and trading process we both partook in a sampling of the merchandise.
At the end of it all, it was clearly time for bed, but we were sugared up and sleep was elusive. My head hit the pillow and I counted — not sheep, but mini-candy bars waiting for me in my sack.
My sister and I had the same routine every Halloween, but the day after Halloween and the days following we differed in our approaches to our respective stashes. My sister was a normal child. She ate her candy. She enjoyed it. By mid-November, her bag was empty or nearly so. There may have been a couple packs of Smartees left, but that was it.
I was not a normal child, as can be evidenced by my complex route routine on Halloween night. I’d worked very hard for my sack of candy. I’d planned and schemed for weeks. Every mini-bag of M & M’s had been earned with my own blood, sweat and tears.
So I did what any abnormal, Type-A, candy-focused kid would do. I hoarded my goods. I rationed them carefully, nibbled sparingly. I hesitated to open any Reese’s because I was saving the best for last.
November passed, as did January and March. Summer came and went and still my bag remained not empty. Of course I made a decent dent and savored the occasional Reese’s, but come the next October, I still had candy. On Halloween, I often had to toss out the remnants of last year’s stash in order to make room for the incoming.
I’m no longer Type-A — on Halloween or any other day of the year. But I miss the planning days of a type-A kid on Halloween. There was a certain joy to it. A controlled joy.
I do enjoy passing out candy on Halloween night. I suppose there’s some sort of control issue wrapped within the bars of chocolate I’m giving out. But I always make sure to give kids (the young ones especially) a hefty handful.
After dark, we turn out the lights and I finally experience what I’ve been waiting for all day: the savoring of one last late night-Reese’s.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.