Greetings from Cambridge, Massachusetts.
You know, as an Australian living in the United States, I never grew up with Halloween. I’d been ignoring it for the past decade, except to make the occasional Wrongcard about it. I have two small children who have somehow managed to be too young to notice Halloween … until this year.
And for whatever reason, it’s been left to me to explain it to them.
Two things. First, I told my children that Halloween had likely been cobbled together by Big Pharma lobbyists, eager tap into new, emerging markets for their diabetes drugs. My 3-year-old stared at me blankly, and my 6-year-old told me I was crazy, and that, furthermore, I had ‘a silly mind’.
I was then called upon to explain why I had never let them eat candy. So I had to explain to them what virtue-signaling was, simply so they could firmly understand that it wasn’t virtue-signaling. I wafted, briefly, in the direction of explaining the global panic about gluten (despite the rarity of Celiac Disease), but I’m really not sure why I got onto that subject, now I think about it. I think it was so they could know that I was being reasonable. Then I broke down and told them the bad news, which is this: processed sugars make the creatures of our lineage misbehave.
Last year, I reminded them, my eldest daughter got her paws on some chocolate for the first time and I had to spend the better part of an hour chasing her around a shopping center while she cackled maniacally and threw things at me. She’s otherwise a calm, even-tempered bairn who had never once thrown a tantrum.
But sugared-up, I regret to inform you, dear reader, I am much the same way as my daughter. The last time I ate a chocolate bar was in September of 1999. I spent the following hour methodically knocking the hats off people and daring the world to fight me. Well, I exaggerate only slightly, but it does make me aggressive, and that chocolate bar gave me a migraine I’ll never forget.
I suppose there is just something weird going on with our genetics vis-à-vis sugar. Half a bottle of whiskey won’t make me drunk – it makes me tipsy and inclined to sit in a comfortable chair and read an improving book – but one chocolate bar will have me roaming the streets in search of an argument.
I’ve asked every variety of doctor about this condition, but none have a ready explanation; they just wring their hands and mutter about how the textbooks about the endocrine system were really complicated.
And so all this is why I tend to cross the street whenever I see some sort of processed sugar coming my way.
Alright. So it sounds a bit odd, right? No, what’s odd is how you would seem if you attempted to explain it to someone you have just met.
“Listen, people. I know it’s Halloween but you can’t give my kids chocolate. No, I’m not being holier-than-thou and I’m not virtue-signaling, and I’m not being high-strung about it. I just don’t want them flinging stuff at me like a spider monkey. If you give them chocolate, then you’re the one who has to call in an exorcist – yeah, you have to do it, because I won’t be here, I’ll be in a bar down the street, half-way through a bottle of whiskey and a nice, improving book.”
By the way, you know who gets strange looks? Me. Which is totally unfair because everything I say is pretty reasonable when you think about it. But tomorrow my daughters are going to experience their very first ever Halloween and I’m going to have to explain all this stuff about endocrine systems, and how we’re ‘missing an enzyme or two’ to a bunch of Cambridge parents who haven’t met me before. It’s unfair, really, on them and on me.
Oh, by the way, my eldest daughter is excited about her witch costume. My youngest is going to be dressed as a princess because, as I’ve explained to her repeatedly, there is nothing creepier than the concept of aristocracy, unless it’s how positively the aforementioned aristocracy is portrayed in modern-day Disney movies.
Damn it. That’s another thing I’m going to have to explain to Cambridge parents tomorrow on Halloween. Wish me luck.