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The Hunt for the Full-Size Candy Bar

Growing up in a small rural town in Texas, Halloween was always a wishful holiday that was the thing of special episodes of sitcoms and horror movie marathons on the Dallas UHF television station. Sure, at school, that month’s homeroom mother would bring black and orange cupcakes with plastic spider rings in the frosting for all to enjoy, but really, that was the extent of the festivities.

It wasn’t until we moved to Oklahoma City, circa late 1990, that I can honestly say everything that I imagined Halloween to be came to a maligned fruition and then some. At the tender age of 11, I was on the cusp of being too old to celebrate by trick or treating, so that first year walking the neighborhood of Mayfair Village was both an eye-opening and mildly exhilarating experience for this former country boy.

Hours before, there were always rumors swirling around in class, kids passing tips from one another as to what neighborhood gave out “full-size” candy bars—it was always Nichols Hills, natch—as well as repeated stories about that one kid who went crazy after someone dosed a popcorn ball with L.S.D. This was also a time when Satanic Panic was en vogue, so bring your pets inside and look out for teens dressed in black, the news channels warned in unison, often with no validity.


That first Halloween in the Metro was pure chocoholic lucidity, an overwhelming experience of warm-bodies en masse; once my brother and sister and I made our rushed rounds up and down the Mayfair streets, trying to hit as many houses as possible in the 30 minute time-frame my father gave us to trick or treat and get back home. While we covered fair enough ground, still, half an hour seemed like a real waste of a piecemeal George Michael costume.

Oh yeah, did I forget to tell you my costume that year was George Michael?

It was then, in a rare moment of parental humanity, my father put us all in the Delta 88 and drove us to Shepherd Mall, where we would, in one of the last few years of it still being a real mall, take part in their kiddie cattle drive of candy; as my charcoal stubble began to dissipate, the various stores would drop goodies—and money-saving offers—in our bags as a pet store employee in an ape suit made the younger ones freak out as parents sat on the sidelines, coaxing kids to hurry up because they "have school in the morning."

Before we could finish the entire round, however, an apparent gang-fight broke out near the McCrory’s and security was forced to clear the families out of the area. My ex-cop parents, freaked out by this display of inner-city life—what what—opted to leave the mall completely, but not before I could stop in the record store—was it a Musicland or a Camelot?—and purchase a clearance cassingle of Information Society’s “Think” for 49 cents.

Sadly, the car’s janky cassette deck ate it on the way home.


The next year, however, was determined to be different, right? It was my first year in junior high; I was attending Harding Middle School—thanks, crosstown bussing—and was desperately trying to find anyway to break away from the rigidity of my family’s tight-fist; via a few stretched truths, Halloween seemed the best way to experiment with moderate attempts as schoolboy lying.

Making up a seemingly believable tale about a friend and I attending a highly-chaperoned Halloween party at a respectable girl’s house, the actual plan, Ocean’s Eleven-style, was for my ruffian friends and I to jump in the back of a truck—one of the guys had an older brother who was a gangbanger with a fresh driver's license—and hit up as many neighborhoods as possible, starting with Nichols Hills.

Apparently, different families in Nichols Hills were, get this: actually giving out cash in addition to, of course, “full-size” candy bars. At least that's what we heard from some 8th grade rebels who wore Vision Skateboard gear and had mullets, which were cool back then, and therefore, had no reason to doubt the validity of their claims.

As that truck coughed and wheezed through the 20 miles per hour residential streets, stopping only to let us jump off and ransack these joints for everything they had, we were almost immediately disappointed to learn that the houses in Nichols Hills also gave out those “fun size” bars just like the middle class jerks up the road did and, as far as cold hard cash, every now and then some old lady would drop five pennies taped together in your bag.

It was almost enough to make you long for an apple and a few Jack Chick tracts.

Making a beeline for Gatewood, however, fared far better for us; starting on Carey Place (which lived up to its nickname of Scarey Place back then) and, eventually, making our way down to Penn and 16th, bagging plenty of sweets while dodging the much-missed crackheads that used to rule the area. Back then, we had enough sense to recognize we were the interlopers in their euphoric kingdom of the pipe.

It was a few streets down in the Classen Ten-Penn area, meanwhile, back when it was in its purest form of absolute urban blight, that was the true treasure trove of confections of all kinds—you’d think Willy Wonka’s impoverished punk-ass lived up in there, illegally importing all kinds of candies from Mexico and Asia. There were also plenty of sketchy homemade goodies thrown in the bag, from cookies to conchas; often we’d stop to take a break, making sure to eat those first before our parents could inspect them and throw 'em away.


As my friend’s brother dropped me off a block from my house, in front of the old abandoned Mayfair Gardens apartments that, at the time, were mainly used as crack-dens if the right door could be kicked in, I stuffed a few Milky Ways in my gob, satisfied with a low-rent criminal job well done. I had really gotten away with lying and scheming and gorging and…

I heard a click that froze me where I stood.

A mere hundred feet or so from my house—I could see the flashing lights from the TV in the living room window—two white teenagers in full-on real-life Beavis and Butthead mode pointed a handgun directly at me, the streetlight at the corner of NW 47th and Steanson long burnt out. I tried not to choke on the nougat hovering in the back or my throat.

“Gimme your candy fatboy or I’ll cap you in the foot…” Beavis sneered at me, assuredly pointing the weapon down towards my feet.

Did I mention that my costume this year consisted of backwards jeans and a backwards baseball jersey? That was a pretty big costume that year—thanks Kriss Kross—but it didn’t work so much if you wore husky Rustler jeans like I did, natch, easily toppling myself over like a hip-hop Weeble Person while I cowardly handed my pillowcase full of that sweet booty over without much resistance, too scared (or too smart?) to even scream for help.

After giving me a few swift kicks to the gut, they ran away hemming and hawing as I struggled to breathe, the wind knocked completely out of me, gasping for air on a street that, only hours before, was teeming with kids who’d be going home with their candy tonight.

Even though it was only across the street, man, was that a long walk home.


Next year I would be 13 and in those days, it was an unwritten—but fair and just—rule that once that chronological line was crossed, trick or treating was done with for good. Which was fine with me: I never wanted to celebrate Halloween again, finding it easier just to walk up to the Eckerd’s in Mayfair Village the day after and just buy all the Goddamned candy I wanted on clearance. Full-size bars even.

I knew, at that point, I was a man.


The same line of thinking also worked for Valentine's Day. Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler.

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