When I was a kid, we trick-or-treated in homemade costumes with pillowcases to gather candy on Halloween. Many treats were homemade. Then, one time some sicko put a razor blade in an apple and thereafter our parents told us to decline homemade treats. Eventually it went further.
Now, kids are to wait until Mom checks out all the candy brought home for bubonic plague and then tries to let you have only a portion of your treasure. She hides the rest until it goes stale and then serves it in a candy dish to guests at Thanksgiving.
However, Island mothers are less paranoid than mainlanders because there’s no one here who would sink low enough to harm a child. So kids here get to dump their loot on the bed and start the Halloween process that teaches us many life lessons.
First, learning to sort and prioritize. Candy is sorted into three categories: chocolate, chocolate mixed with other stuff, and candy corn. Sounds simple, but this lesson extends into life. Cars fall into three categories—clunker, decent ride, and you can’t afford the payments. Jobs—pays the rent, respectable work and gravy train. Men—pays the rent, no disgusting habits and gay.
Working with Halloween candy teaches other critical life skills like manipulation, threats and cajoling. If you want to get those Kit Kat bars from your sibling, you have to study the victim to find his weak spots. “Give me your Kit Kats or I’ll hammer all your Matchbox cars.” Or, “Hand over the Hershey’s or I’ll tell Mom about the Playboy behind your TV.” I remember whispering tenderly into my younger siblings’ ears, “Give me your money and M&Ms, or I’ll smother you with a pillow while you sleep.”
You can polish your manipulation skills, too. “Ronnie, you have eight Reese’s peanut butter cups. I have 12 mini-bags of candy corn. If we trade, you’ll have four more candies than me.” Or, how about, “The marshmallow pumpkins are much bigger than the Baby Ruth bars. If we trade, your candy bowl will look fuller than mine, which means you have the most candy.”
I remember learning sales skills. “These are Halloween apples. They aren’t regular apples. They have a big chocolate ball in the middle. I’ll trade you my six apples for all these Skittles. Or, I’ll just trade my apples to the babysitter for pizza. She loves Halloween apples, I heard her say so. So whaddya say, do we have a deal?”
You learn about psychology as you watch your younger siblings weigh the deal you have offered. They want to act grown-up enough to make a deal, but deep inside they fear being cheated. You study them and learn how to push them just past the breaking point so they fall prey to your brilliant plan.
If you’re clever and ruthless, you could clean the little kids out of all their good candy before bedtime.
The only wrench in the works is if one of the little finks squeals to Mom. You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. But you can’t fool Mom. She is the deal breaker, and if you don’t comply, she is the neck breaker. It saddens me to recall how many times my mother ruined my plans. She would always teach us honesty, fair play, compassion and all the other attributes that prevent you from growing up to be a successful sociopath.