Not for the faint of heart, I give to you this cautionary tale of one little boy’s brush with fevered regret, that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that one tiny voice of reason can indeed save the day.
But first, we have to go back, way back…to the story before the story of that fateful day…
I love Halloween.
And back in the day, when I was a little girl, Halloween was always a big deal at our house. Trick-or-treating was something that was looked forward to with great anticipation.
Every year, my sister and I would go to great lengths to come up with inventive and elaborately bewitching costumes. We would painstakingly plot out our route through the neighborhood to get maximum candy canvassing, and stake out the good stuff for a second hit.
One year, I even attempted to lock my sister in the bathroom, and carried an extra pillow case with me and told a sad story of her suddenly falling ill, and being the nice sister that I was I was, I was collecting candy for her as well.
Of course, it was a total fabrication, and after she escaped, I was questioned by a neighbor who had inquired as to why then, had my poor sick sister already knocked on her door? My poorly executed farce had been exposed. I did briefly entertain the idea of abandoning my life of criminal mischeif, but then I decided that the next year I would just go to a different neighborhood, where nobody knew me.
Muahahah! Diabolical, I know, but I take my candy very seriously.
Growing up in Arizona, it always seemed like right around Halloween was when it would finally start to get chilly and I would always worry that my mother would force me wear a coat over my costume.
This was not acceptable.
I mean, who wants to see Wonder Woman wearing a zip up windbreaker?
You can not effectively fight crime in seasonably appropriate outerwear.
How ridiculous would it be if I had to peel off a hat and a scarf before I could jump into my invisible jet and race off to save the world?
Nobody in their right mind would take Wonder Woman seriously if she was wearing a winter coat over her kick ass wonder woman outfit, or if her lasso of truth was all tangled up in her poncho.
But sadly, most of the time my pleas of protest would fall upon deaf ears, and I would end up angrily stomping down the street, stewing in my own juices, while toting my empty grocery bag, and grimacing with distaste as my winter wardrobe eclipsed my Wonder Woman awesomeness.
It was then, that I swore, that when I became a mother, I would never humiliate my children in such a way as to force my overly protective motherly whims upon them. And if my son wanted to be Superman, then he would be Superman in a cape… and not Superman in a parka.
I was going to be the one to finally break the cycle of crimes against Halloween.
Then, many years later, we had taken a trip to Disneyland with my then three-year-old son. His favorite ride was the Pirates of the Caribbean, and for Halloween he wanted to be a pirate. I think we must have ridden that ride over a half a dozen times before I had finally had enough. I dragged him out of there kicking in screaming. In hindsight,￼taking a toddler to a amusement park was probably not one of my better ideas￼.
Yo, ho ho and (mommy needs) a bottle of rum.
So needless to say, when Halloween finally rolled around, and he still decided that he wanted to be a pirate, I jumped at the chance to go all out and make him the most awesome pirate he could be. I probably even went a little overboard because I wanted his first real Halloween to be super awesome.￼
And as a result, he ended up having the best pirate costume provided by an overcompensating mother that a three-year-old could possibly have. Right down to the pirates booty. He wanted treasure, so I went and bought gold chocolate Doubloon’s, and a whole crap load of Almond Roca’s wrapped in gold foil. It looked just like a real pirates treasure, and he was extremely pleased.
Then, in November of that same year, we had attended a Thanksgiving family gathering.
My grandmother always had fantastical treats and petite fours laid out along with truffles and assorted candies galore. It was a difficult task trying to keep my young son away from all of the eye level temptations in his path.
At one point, my Aunt Wendy had picked up a perfectly wrapped Almond Roca and was admiring it’s shiny golden wrapper. And as she began to delicately unwrap it to reveal the delicious treat that lied within, my son, who had been watching her very carefully, began to seem uneasy.
He pulled away from my grip, and in what seemed like slow-motion started sprinting across the room towards her. He shouted “Noooooooo!” as he approached her, which in my mind’s eye sounded like a long drawn out exclamation of impending horror.
It all unfolded in such swiftness that I think my mind slowed it down in order to comprehend what was happening.
She blinked and turned towards him as he raced in her direction. She had finally unwrapped the delicious delight and was raising it to her lips when he arrived.
He reached up and smacked it right out of her hand post haste, in an effort to stop her from placing it into her mouth. And again he shouted, “Noooooo! Bad candy! Bad candy!!!!”
He was visibly upset, and quite insistent that she NOT partake in the aforementioned “bad candy”.
Of course I was also horrified, because I immediately assumed that he did not want her to eat it because it was “treasure”, and I had told him that we cannot eat the treasure. But then I thought maybe he knew what I had done, that I had eaten his hoard, and maybe he was trying to tell her that his gluttonous mother was the only one who was allowed to have it.
I was terrified that he was about to embarrass me beyond belief. I was afraid that “the incident” was about to come back to haunt me.
My stunned Aunt looked so perplexed after having the candy literally slapped out of her mouth, and I jumped up to scoop him as quickly as I could into another room.
The poor kid was hysterical and I kept trying to ask him what was wrong but he just kept sobbing and saying “bad candy, bad candy”.
After about 30 minutes he had cried himself to sleep, and I had tiptoed out of the room to back out to the party to apologize. Of course, everyone had inquired as to what could have possibly come over him, but I just said that I had no knowledge as to the origins of his sudden outburst.
Later that night as we were walking into the house, and I was following behind my husband as he was carrying our sleeping son. And as we paused just inside the door to drop all of our belongings, our little guy slightly awoke for just a moment, and pointed his tiny finger down towards the floor.
Then he raised his head, and in his exhausted little baby voice he once again softly uttered the words “bad…candy…”
I followed the direction of his finger as he pointed towards the cat’s litter box, filled with a plethora of cat poops covered in cat litter.
And then, as I made notice of the resemblance between the Almond Roca’s and the cat box offerings, I finally understood.
As soon as I put two and two together, I realized, that this brave little boy had at some point “sampled” the treasures in the kitty cat treasure chest, and had not only found them to be most disagreeable, but also quite offensive.
Clearly, he had all but confirmed for himself why I had asked him to not eat the treasures, and had lived a life of fevered regret ever since.
And upon witnessing another hapless victim nearly falling prey to the lure of the bad candy, he had felt compelled to act. Because even though he had made a terrible decision and paid for it dearly, he had still tried to save a clueless Aunt Wendy from making the same horribly regrettable mistake.
He had valiantly taken one for the team.
He was a hero.
And now, every time I see an Almond Roca, I think about the bad candy, and how much it looks like something very unappetizing. And pretty much ever since, it has been unable to render any more of its magic powers over me, all thanks to the selfless sacrifice of one brave little boy.
So the next year, when our little superhero wanted to be Batman for Halloween, I made sure he had a right and proper cape, so that he could go out there and save the world…
One piece of bad candy at a time.