I have a better Halloween costume when I am 13. Once again, I am shuffling around, but I have learned from past mistakes and have rendered the bottom portion of my costume in fabric and foam rubber. I am a Greek statue, and I look good. I have converted a sheet into a toga-like dress, which is tucked into a column made of white fabric with a foam rubber Doric flare at the top. I have draped myself in real ivy and stapled it to the costume in strategic places. Ivy also crowns my hair, entwined with bobby pins.
I receive many compliments on the costume, and I don’t fall on my face. I feel vindicated with regard to the crayon incident. I win a prize at a neighborhood costume contest, and collect a pillowcase full of candy. When I bring it home, my sister and I engage in the customary Sorting of Halloween Candy.
We have perfected this ritual over many years. We each go to our room and lay out our loot like expert merchants. Then we trade.
There are premium kinds of candy — Milky Ways, Snickers bars, Kit-Kats, and the like. These are lined up according to brand name (all the Milky Ways in one line, all the Kit-Kats in another) in the same general location on the floor. Lollipops get their own section, as do boxes of small candy (say, Junior Mints or Milk Duds). Strange tchotchkes like candy necklaces are placed at the fringe where they belong. Things we do not like, such as Mary Janes or Chunky bars, are relegated to a corner and pawned off on our parents.
When we are finished with the sorting process, we each examine the other’s stash, then start making offers.
“I’ll give you two Milky Ways for that box of Junior Mints.”
“Sure. Can I have that Butterfinger?”
“I’ll trade it to you for your Almond Joys.”
“Both of them?”
“Yeah, you don’t like Almond Joys anyway.”
“But it’s not fair!”
“Fine, I’ll throw in the Twizzlers.”
This exchange takes hours. When we are done, we are friends. We have cooperated. We have bettered our candy stashes and have purged them of most unwanted items. We are efficient, a machine, and everything just looks so good laid out on the floor in orderly files.