The Power of Free Candy

Kids today have it so easy. My son gets a Luigi costume at Target, slaps on a fake mustache, then has us drive him around a few minutes so he can come home with enough candy to put Willy Wonka in a ten year coma. Halloween is just a blip between summer and Christmas to my kids. There’s no magic, no sense of adventure anymore.

Back in the 1970s when I was a kid, times were hard and we didn’t mess around. Halloween was Go-Time. The rest of the year my brothers and I rarely got candy (unless you count the Sucrets we stole out of my mom’s purse), so we prepared for this holiday weeks in advance.

And we were entirely on our own. Mom and Dad rarely bought us a costume. We had to cough up our own spooky designs from whatever was lying around the house. And trick-or-treating? Completely unsupervised and lasted until way past bedtime even on a school night, just like God intended.

We’d spend weeks brainstorming wacky homemade costume ideas: “Hey! I know! We can have Dad cut up some of the foam insulation from the attic and make a giant Pac-Man!” We’d analyze which houses would score the biggest payload: “Okay, rumor has it Mrs. Stevens gives out jumbo-sized Snickers but steer clear of Old Mr. Pitts, he throws moldy popcorn balls or crayons at your head and he smells like cheese.”

Once darkness fell, we’d fan out by ourselves clutching our garbage bag costumes. We’d bravely roam the streets, our sad Hobo faces covered in whatever we could scrape out of my dad’s ashtray, and beg perfect strangers for a Charleston Chew.

Whenever I tell my kids about the hardships we faced back then, they interrupt me and say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah…whatever, Mom. By the way, that is the dumbest idea for a costume, like, ever, and can you give me back my Kit Kats now? That’s your third one!”

Let’s travel back in time to my childhood Halloweens, shall we?

I’m not sure what I was trying to be here, I’d guess a gypsy, or maybe Laura Ingall’s long-lost Spanish cousin. Either way, it looks like I’m thinking, OH DEAR GOD, please don’t let me be seen in public with these two freakshows! He used up all my Noxzema for this?
I was a witch this year (again) and my brothers were hobos (again). Strangely enough, they didn’t even have to alter their appearance at all. And the hobo sticks came in handy when my brothers threatened to beat me over the head if I didn’t give them my Skittles. Just look into the cold dark eyes of my younger brother and tell me he didn’t intend to mug me later on for all my Pixy Stix.
This year we were all lucky to have ‘store-bought’ costumes. Still, I felt bad for my younger brother who had to trick or treat with Yul Brynner and the freaky-deakiest Raggedy Anne I’ve ever seen.
I’m not sure what’s scarier about this photo, the giant fork and spoon on the wall my brother used to chase me around the house with… the illusion that the entire room is invisible due to my mom’s horrible paint job or the fact that I chose to go trick or treating at the age of 11 dressed up like an Amish hooker.
Finally, my favorite Halloween photo of all-time. You thought I was kidding about the foam insulation Pac Man? It is a sheer miracle my poor brother didn’t suffocate after five minutes in that thing. Oh, and you thought I was joking about the garbage bag? Behold, my genius idea for a costume. Any guess what we were? We had to wear a SIGN to let people know. Probably a good sign it’s a bad costume. 

Well, duh! We were the Fruit of the Loom Grapes!

I think people gave us more candy because they felt so bad for us. Mmm-mmm! Pity tastes delicious!



Yeah, I admit this post was a re-blog from a post I wrote in 2012. Sorry, but I think eating this Snickers bar is far more important than blogging.


Death by Lack of Chocolate

New Year’s Day is one of my least favorite holidays. After the Times Square ball drops and the champagne pops, it’s time for serious reflection. Ultimately, it’s time for guilt and shame. As soon as we’re back at work and the hangover has worn off, we feel this urge to do wild-n-crazy things–like change. We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re not good enough; our lives need improvement. We need to reorganize our closet! Start jogging! Stop eating! Quit drinking!  Be nicer! Stop watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta!  Deep down, we know there are some things too toxic for our health and well-being.

We must sit down and make a New Year’s Resolution list. This year, I am way ahead of the game. My hope is to fail before I even start.

Oh, goodie, another year gone! Let’s see…what haven’t I accomplished? What things have I failed miserably at, year after year?   I still haven’t 1) Lost weight 2) Gone back to school 3) Learned how to play the violin 4) Met and married Sting.

But why limit this self-torture to January 1st?  It’s just another meaningless milestone, a mere number on the calender we created to mark the passage of time. Well, the passage of time has done a number on my body. I can’t get by eating endless amounts of sugar anymore. (And believe me, I’ve tried.) So I decided that starting the day after Thanksgiving, I would give up sweets. Why wait until New Year’s to celebrate my lack of willpower?

It was Black Friday and the shoppers were out pepper spraying each other for the iPad2. I was home safe in my slippers, contemplating my New Year’s Resolutions ahead of time because I am an OCD-ish Virgo and that’s what we do best. As soon as I polished off a few more decadent chunks of my mom’s Quadruple-Chocolate Fudge, I said to myself, This is it! No more sweets for this chick! Then I ate a few more of my daughter’s Reese peanut butter cups because they were shaped into adorable little Christmas trees and really, who are we kidding? It was simply too tempting to pass up. I patted my stomach, sighed and thought,  This is really it! I’m done.  No more sugar! I can stop eating chocolate, no problem! It’s just filling a void. A void that can only be filled with love. Yeah, love! Love is all you need–John Lennon said so! Later that evening, I said to my husband, “This is it. I’m done. No more sugar. I swear.” Then I lovingly finished the last of the pumpkin chocolate swirl cheescake.

Although I crave most things sweet, apparently, anything chocolate is my main downfall. Countless studies have shown that neurotransmitters in a woman’s brain transmit the same euphoric feelings whether the woman is falling in love, having sex or eating a Godiva truffle. My husband and I have been married almost 12 years, we currently have two extremely (hyper) active young kids and we live right next door to my elderly (demanding) mother.  I’m 41 years old and in a perpetual state of feeling mind-numbingly exhausted. You can probably figure out why I love to eat chocolate. So why not see if I can do without it? I love a good challenge.

I read somewhere that in order to squash your sugar craving, it would take at least two weeks of abstinence to completely get it out of your system.

I am here to tell you that it takes longer.

Instead of going the cold turkey route (unless the turkey was slathered in chocolate sauce), I decided to be kind to myself and slowly wean off the cravings. As slow as the chocolate syrup being drizzled onto the whipped topping on my hot fudge sundae with extra sprinkles.

DAY 1: Limited daily sugar intake to one tiny Twix ‘fun-size’ bar with a soothing cup of oolong tea. Very proud of myself. This is so easy!

DAY 2: Passed on the chocolate chip cookies my kids demanded I bake them.  Came close to licking spoon–instead threw spoon at husband’s head. Willpower is working! This is so easy!

DAY 3: Huge craving strikes out of blue. The shakes start. I go into a trance. Later, I wake up to find myself hiding in the pantry shoveling semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips into my mouth while hunched over the garbage can.

DAY 4: Consumed no sweets at all the entire day. I have done it! Go, me! I’ve conquered sugar! I am queen of the world!

DAY 5: My mother calls to inform me Dr. Oz said sugar is hiding in every single food item, including peanut butter, ketchup and spaghetti sauce. I lapse into an expletive-filled anti-Oz rant of epic proportions. What the hell does he know? Just because he prances around in those ridiculous scrubs all day doesn’t mean he’s God.  My mom tells me to calm down, go have a cookie and she’ll be right over with the chocolate fudge brownies that just came out of her oven. I realize I am surrounded by a bunch of sugar-pushers. It’s unavoidable–I can’t possibly get through the holidays without sugar!  I relapse at the hopelessness of it all.  I eat four chocolate chip cookies and an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s special edition Chocolate Up the Wazoo ice cream using a candy cane as a spoon. I feel satisfied yet bitter.

DAY 6: Renewed sense of hope. Dr. Oz is still a jerk. Scooped up all the sugary foods and hid them in the tiny cupboard over the fridgerator that no one ever opens. Brought home some yogurt from the grocery store. Eagerly tasted one spoonful.  “Oh yeah! This tastes just like Black Forest Cake–MY ASS!” threw the spoon at my husband’s head and stormed out of the kitchen.

DAY 7: Husband brings home a box of Little Debbie Snackcakes shaped like snowmen. Divorce is pending.

DAY 8: Discover Clementine oranges are healthy, sweet and delicious. Buy ten pounds and dig into one every time I get a craving. Fingernails are permanently stained orange. Husband and I have reconciled.

DAY 9: Read that a tiny amount of dark chocolate each day is good for you. Rediscover my will to live.

Does this pass for 'tiny amount'?

DAY 10: While watching Survivor, husband asks why there is a pile of tiny Twix Fun-Sized candy bar wrappers on the coffee table. And in my lap. And inbetween the couch cushions. And in a long winding trail leading to the cupboard above the fridge. I protest, “But they are tiny! Look, they’re only 50 calories each!” Husband raises his eyebrows and smirks. “How many did you have?”  I snidely answer, “What’s your point?” My husband glares at me. I burst into sobs and yell, “FINE! I had 73! You happy now?!” and run away to hide in my closet to finish off the rest of the bag in peace.

DAY 11: Went entire day eating zero sweets. Somehow the accomplishment feels as hollow as the milk chocolate Santa my daughter ate right in front of me.

DAY 11 to 14: Still no sweets. I’m winning!

DAY 14: See giant candy cane the size of a reindeer filled with M&Ms while Christmas shopping at Target. Fall to floor in fetal position and wail.

DAY 15: Tell myself a little chocolate never hurt anybody.

Ooah! (glub glub) HELP ME! I'M DROWNING! SOMEONE PLEASE (licking lips) wait. Forget it! Nevermind, nothing to see here! I'm fine!

DAY 16: There’s always next year.