February 10, 2009
Would you pass out Halloween candy with razor blades in it?
As a child of the early ’80s, I had three main worries:
1) Being kidnapped and murdered by a bloodthirsty lunatic, a la Adam Walsh.
2) Nuclear war (oddly enough, JoBeth Williams starred in both The Day After and the TV movie about the Adam Walsh case, making her queen of my childhood fears).
3) Halloween candy that had been poisoned or otherwise tampered with.
While 1) and 2) seemed like slightly more of a long shot, I spent a fair amount of time convinced that 3) was pretty likely to happen. Just as they suspiciously inspected every bottle of Tylenol that came into our house, my parents insisted on doing thorough checks of my loot after I came in from trick-or-treating, because “God only knows what some sicko might put in there.” Actually, thanks to endless parental and scholastic lectures on the subject, I had a pretty good idea of what that “what” might be: razor blades, needles (both sewing and hypodermic, though if anyone could have fit a syringe into a fun-size Baby Ruth, they deserved an engineering medal rather than jail time), staples, rat poison, cocaine, cyanide, heroin, dog poop…You get the idea. If it was harmful in any way, I was taught that it could make its way into my goodie bag thanks to some unhinged neighbor. So what actually happened, for all of this worrying? Nothing. With a few exceptions (one of which turned out to be premeditated murder rather than a random act), the whole tainted candy thing has been one gigantic, countrywide urban legend. And if I have anything to do with it, it will stay that way. You can keep your filthy $1,000,000, because I’m not going to hand out shit with razor blades in it to little kids! Unless, of course, I can go back in time and give out those fortified candies to the Olsen twins. In that case, I’d pay you.
True fact: Until a few years ago, I still hoarded a pretty healthy serving of resentment toward my family for the unfuckingbelieveable amount of overprotectiveness they subjected me to as a kid. I’m an only child and so it kind of goes with the territory, but this was really some next level shit. I wasn’t allowed to cross the street by myself until I was 12 or to ride my bike in the street in front of our house ever, so I would spend my time biking around in the backyard and going from the top of the car port to…the bottom. Yeah – it sounds boring because it was. Oh – and get this: At 16 my curfew was “when the sun goes down,” and if I hadn’t learned how to sneak out I really can’t imagine what option aside from insanity or a fucking nunnery I would’ve had. Add in that there was a rash of murders of children in a nearby city when I was really little, and you’d think by the way they acted that my parents had gotten a call from the (apparently quite thoughtful in some ways; not so much in others) killers just to give them a heads up that they were going down a list and that my name was next. In such an environment, you can imagine the kind of fear and hysteria that Halloween brought each year. Not just because of how ridiculous my own tightly wound situation was but also because fear and hysteria is what the ‘80s were generally all about. I mean, satanic ritual abuse? Don’t get me fucking started.
Anyway, it didn’t take long for me to discover that pretty much everything any adult scared me with in the ‘80s was bullshit. Until today, I thought the Halloween candy razors and needles thing was too, but it looks like I was wrong. While mostly all reports of cutty objects in candy have been phony, in 2000, some looney in Minneapolis did put needles in Snickers bars and then hand them out to trick-or-treaters; luckily, some kid poked himself and that was that. Still, I think we can all agree That’s Totally Fucked Up, and I don’t want any parts of it. Tainting candy and hiding razor blades so kids will slice themselves has never really been my thing – I lack both the time and motivation – and the chance at a lot of money seems unlikely to change that. To cut (har!) to the chase, then, the answer on this one is no.
P.S. I will always remember that Adam Walsh movie Lauren mentions above because 1) it meant if I disappeared in a store of any kind for even a second I’d be recovered by an out-of-breath, teary-eyed parent and 2) it scared the crap out of me when, in the only scene I still recall (and I recall this often, actually), John Walsh puts the phone down after getting a call from the police and says to his wife, who is waiting silently, expectantly to hear the news: “They found his head.” Oh god. So awful.
For the record, they ID’d the shithead monster that killed him just recently.
God, that Adam Walsh case cut (NO PUN INTENDED) quite a swath. I remember on one occasion sprinting ahead of my parents to get the elevator, only to have my father yell, “Don’t ever run away from us like that again! Do you want to end up murdered by some psychopath?” No, Dad. But thanks for asking!