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Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

by Stephen Lautens


October 29, 1999

Halloween is one of my favourite holidays. Always has been. It combines everything I love.

I love dressing up. I'm the only person I know over the age of five who has a closet full of costumes. If you want swords, eyepatches, capes or funny hats, I'm your man. Or pirate. Or vampire. Or whatever.

I blame the Sametz girls who used to baby-sit me. They made me play dress-up as a kid, and I've never quite gotten over it.

Costumes now aren't as much fun as they used to be. There are so many now that aren't politically correct. Forget going as a Gypsy, an Indian, or a Witch, unless you want a lecture at the door on racism, Aboriginal treaty rights or respecting the Wiccan religion.

You probably aren't allowed to call them ghosts anymore ­ now they're the living-impaired. I suppose you could still go out as a genetically altered carrot, 40 feet tall with fangs.

Or you could add a second head and chain your feet together and go as the United Alternative.

But Halloween is really about the candy. When it comes to candy, I have to admit I'm a bit of a cheap date. You can keep your Belgian chocolates and Swiss truffles. I like the pure sugar and artificial flavours of the cheap stuff. Unless it was invented in a lab and tested on toothless children, I'm not interested.

There are rules ­ federal, I think - to sorting Halloween candy. All the bags of chips are removed first. We were always happy to hand over all apples to my parents, who would check them for tampering. They never found any evidence of tampering, which made us disappointed because (a) it would have made a great story at school the next day, and (b) it meant you had to eat the apple.

You always had to take out the caramels next, because that was Dad's favourite, and if you handed them over right away, he'd pretty much let you make yourself sick on anything that was left. It was also a fair fee for taking you out Trick or Treating, and standing far enough away to make it look like you were on your own, but close enough to make sure the big kids didn't steal your candy.

Next, I'd carefully pick through for all of the pure sugar candies. I still love Rockets, those little rolls of sugar. Drugs have never interested me, but I could develop a serious Rocket habit. I'd trade all my chocolate bars for them in the great candy swap that followed.

Finally, after sorting through everything, in the last pile you put those inedible Halloween kisses and the toothbrush the dentist down the street always gave out.

My sister always had to hang on to the last piece of candy of the season. In about July she would dig into the back of her closet and pull out the hunk of fudge she had been saving since the previous October.

It didn't matter that it was as hard as a rock and home to an ant colony.

She would lord it over my brother and me, delicately sniffing it like it was a hundred dollar bottle of wine. General unpleasantness would follow, with everyone trying to lay claim to the sugary meteorite by being the first to lick it.

You see, that's what we've forgotten about the joy of Halloween. It's about the candy, and what kids are prepared to do to get it.


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