October 12, 2010
Today’s candy-themed Inviting Writing story comes from Krystal D’Costa, a New York City-based anthropologist who writes the fascinating blog Anthropology in Practice.
Since we suspect (and hope) this may inspire you, the deadline for this round of Inviting Writing has been extended until October 15th. So if you’d still like to participate, please read these guidelines and e-mail your story to FoodandThink at gmail.com.
The Candy Drawer
By Krystal D’Costa
When I was eight years old, my family emigrated from Trinidad to New York. Two things really excited me about the move: I would get to see snow firsthand, and I’d get to participate in Halloween. I couldn’t wait to make a snowman or have a snowball fight. And I had a vision of a mountain of candy.
Since our move happened in February, it was the snow I got to experience first. I had imagined a pristine winter wonderland. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that New York City snow turns into grayish sludge not long after it hits the ground. Still, I managed to make a few snowballs, a triangular snowman, and a tentative snow angel.
Once the snow melted, I set my sights on Halloween. I was a well-read kid, interested in history and culture from a young age, so I thought I pretty much had this Halloween thing figured out: I would get dressed up and ring a few doorbells, and then my sister and I would reap the rewards. The way I saw it, we’d be swimming in candy at the end of the night—sleeping on small piles of it, even. I promised her we’d have a ton of candy. I was sure that people were just going to line the sidewalks with big bowls of candy that they would liberally distribute.
To get ready for this joyous event, I decided to give up eating sweets until Halloween came along, so I would enjoy my spoils all the more when the time came. But I still collected the candy I came across that I liked—I was going to add it to what I got on Halloween. All summer long, I built a stash of Kit-Kats and Milky Ways and 3 Musketeers. I kept them in the bottom drawer of my dresser that absolutely no one, especially not a little sister, was allowed to open. I even made a special “Keep Out” sign for the drawer.
By September, the drawer had accumulated a number of slightly squashed chocolate bars. (The clothes had been relocated to under the bed.) And I was getting pretty excited. I had made friends on my block in Queens easily, and we planned to all go trick or treating together (with one of the moms in tow for supervision).
“What are you going to be?” one of my friends asked. “A ghost,” I said. I figured I could get one of my mom’s sheets pretty easily.
“You can’t be a ghost. That’s lame,” the friend informed me matter-of-factly.
What? What was I going to do? I couldn’t be lame—how would I get candy then? I thought quickly.
“I’ll be a witch,” I announced, then marched home and informed my mother of my choice. We went out that afternoon and found a purple costume, complete with a pointed polyester hat with a crescent moon on it and a wand. The dress was sort of itchy, but I wasn’t going to complain. Oh no, definitely not—I was one step closer to a candy surplus.
I tried on my costume daily. I practiced. I even thought of jokes in case someone demanded a trick for the treat (see, I had done my reading). And then October 31 arrived. What a glorious Saturday! I was up bright and early even though my friends and I weren’t supposed to meet until after noon. I refused breakfast, put on my costume, and sat on the front steps with my candy bag and my hat to wait.
After what felt like an eternity, my friends and the mom-on-duty arrived. Waving goodbye to my little sister, I set off, anticipating that I would return with my bag overflowing. I was the first one up the walkway of the first house we came to.
I rang the bell, and waited. And waited. No one came. Still chattering excitedly, we went to the next house, and rang the bell. And waited. No one came there either. I was still first up the walk at the third house, but no one answered there either.
What was going on? Where were the throngs of people handing out candy? We were all a little perplexed. At the fourth house, we each got a single Tootsie roll. And at the fifth house, we each got a full sized Milky Way. But at the next house, we got boxes of raisins. Raisins? Those are fruit, not candy! I gave those away. And so it continued. We visited every house on the block, and about half the people—the ones with kids and grandkids—opened the door, but the problem was that my bag was only about a quarter of the way full. I was definitely disappointed, as were the others. We went from chattering excitedly to trying to barter with each other for coveted items.
I got home that night and emptied out the candy drawer, combining the contents with the candy from my bag. It wasn’t quite enough to sleep on—but it was enough to share with a little sister.
All in all, it was a good lesson to learn at an early age: saving a little for a rainy day is never a bad idea.
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