Thursday, 26 October 2017 11:25

It’s truly a squares’ world after all

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“No popcorn balls. No fudge. No puffed wheat squares, Rice Krispie squares or peanut butter marshmallow bars. No apples; candied, caramelled or otherwise. Don’t even ask.”

“No. No. No.”
It was Halloween. And after a day spent in pink ballerina toile (covered from tiara to toe shoes in South Pole snowmobile gear), and after trudging from doorstep to doorstep in pursuit of free treats, my job was done. Now it was Mom’s turn, and she was busy sorting the contents of my plastic pumpkin pail into three piles:
Pile #1: Store-bought mini chocolate bars and various makes of compressed sugar. These, of course, made up the “Keeper” mound, and could, upon light inspection for tampering, be returned to the pail.
Pile #2: Home-made goodies. Highly suspicious, and likely to contain razor blades, thumb tacks, and/or strychnine. To be disposed of immediately, or, if I pleaded their cases, set aside for further investigation.
Pile #3: Toothbrushes. Soft-bristled, not up to the task of undoing all the decay I was about to instigate, and appreciated by no one. Summarily deposited under the bathroom sink, to be called into service only in emergencies. Categorized, Mom turned her attention to Pile #2, and held up a peanut butter marshmallow bar smearily short-sheeted with plastic film.
“That came from Mrs. Froese down the block,” I said. Mrs. Froese was the old lady who’d taught my sister and I to crochet. She was not capable of premeditated harm, mistaking sugar for powdered slug poison.
“What about this one?” Mom said, holding up a cube of home-made fudge.”
“Can’t remember.”
“And these?” she said, referring to a baggie of Kettle-cooked “Cracker Jacks” in one hand, and a puffed wheat square in the other. “9th Street, blue house, and the house t at looks like a barn.”
“Don’t know either of them.”
 So into the bin went the “Cracker Jacks” and puffed wheat square, along with the fudge.
So far, nothing of the homemade variety had been deemed edible. Nor had any passed beyond caution to true suspicion and been set aside for consideration by the RCMP.
But still.
Since the world was quite easily ten times more evil than it had been a generation before, and was in the midst of another ten-fold leap, one could not be certain of anything. Of course, my mom was right. That’s why this generation’s children don’t know there’s something terribly unnatural about a trick-or-treat lap around the mall before bedtime.
The mall, where nothing goes bump in the night. Because the night is already full of too many bumps. It’s a shame. For kids and treat makers alike.
Although it was already fading into myth in my time, baking treats to hand out on Halloween was once the joy of kindly women on the block. And sorting tricks from treats used to be a childhood rite.
If I’m being honest, I miss the thrill of the sort. I miss sitting at the table while Mom peered at candied apples with suspicion and, it seemed, x-ray vision. I miss winning back the occasional peanut butter marshmallow bar. Since we’re telling the truth, though, Mom was the only one who was ever sorry about the puffed wheat.

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