A guest post by Adam Irving
You’d think being diabetic would make Halloween a problematic yearly ritual. And for many years, that’s the way it was. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on Halloween night when I was six. Yes, yes, the irony has never been lost on me. That was the end of candy for a while. Children being resilient, I was able to adapt. I would still get dressed up and go out trick-or-treating with my brother, but the orange plastic pumpkin of candy would be parceled out in very limited quantities over the next several months whenever my blood sugar levels demanded a sugary nudge. Diabetes management being very different in those days, I grew to adulthood lacking much of a sweet tooth. Advances in technology and management practices now allow me to indulge in whatever I want.
Halloween still presented something of a conundrum. How to approach it? At some point the object of hoarding candy shifted. By the time I was an undergraduate in Pittsburgh, there was more an emphasis on dressing up and being social. College Halloween parties. You can likely fill in the rest. They were fine in their own right, but I never really latched on to that aspect either. There was another shift after moving out and getting my own place. No, I was now part of the candy establishment, who would buy sweets for distribution and unintentionally fund the future vacations of dentists. Yet it still felt sort of empty, like I wasn’t plugging into the zeitgeist of the day. Was I going to always have a supposedly special be warped, like people who are born on Christmas or February 29?
I’d been shoveling out bulk candy until I had an epiphany of sorts a few years ago. I’d either badly planned my supply chain or some warm weather increased the number of kids on the collection route, but I ran out of candy midway through the evening. I debated closing up shop. I had to have something to give out, right? I shrugged off bags of chips or rolls of crackers as too pedestrian. I needed something with at least a little pizzazz. Then I came across it. I did have an option.
The doorbell rang a short while later. I opened the door to see two young boys dressed as super heroes, their parents hovering a short way off. “Who are you supposed to be?” They answered and I further admired their costume choices for another minute or two. But they weren’t there to make friends. I took out a tray of candy in oddly-colored wrappers. “Would you mind testing this candy right now? I want to make sure you like it.” They did not hesitate and the candy was consumed in very short order. “Do you like it? Was it sweet enough for you?” Both boys nodded enthusiastically. I knelt down, drawing them in conspiratorially. “Do you know what’s different about this candy?” They did not. “That candy you just ate had no sugar. None at all. Not a single grain.”
Their looks were ones of confusion and growing terror, as they began to wonder what in the candy made it taste so good. “It can be your secret at school. Give them to other kids and keep the real sugar for yourselves. You can be sugar kings.” I could tell they liked that idea immensely
Then I went in for the coup de sucre. “Or, you can keep them for yourselves and give the real ones to the other kids, and know the sugar won’t be making your teeth go bad. Or give you diabetes.” I dropped a few more candies in each of their bags before they could recoil. “I got diabetes when I was younger than you because I ate too much candy. Now I have to give myself shots. Every. Single. Day.” Nearly all of it was a lie, but I figured I was supporting the future vacations of therapists now instead of dentists. They fled in terror as I waved after them. “Happy Halloween!” And, surprisingly, I actually meant it for the first time in decades. Sweet victory.
Adam Irving lives in Minneapolis/St. Paul where he works in Trade Compliance for Emerson. He grew up in Vermont, went to college in Pittsburgh and Kansas before moving to Minnesota. During off moments, he and his friends blog about scotch at www.scotchology.com. Find him on Twitter: @scotchology1.