Halloween stories are all the same: Recollections of ridiculous costumes or nostalgic commentary about one’s favorite candy. “Oh, remember the little bags of Whoppers?” someone will say, and then you’ll be forced to sort of pretend that these items don’t still exist.
After all, most of us writing this crap aren’t much older than 30. Not that much has changed.
Halloween in the Schonberger household meant one thing and one thing only—pillaging local embassy residences. My brother Christopher and I grew up on a quiet corner in northwest Washington, D.C. Our immediate neighbors were diplomats. Italians on one side, Koreans on the other. The Italians presided over a gorgeous villa set back in the woods, far from any street-side peeper. The Koreans lived large a stately home that had once been occupied by Gore Vidal.
Not since the time our father took us trick-or-treating in a Newport News, Virginia, mall had Halloween been so depressing.
Both residences shared a single tradition: Bountiful chocolates on All Hallow’s Eve.
In the foyers of these diplomatic palaces, large silver trays were piled high with king-size bars. There was no one bar rule, so grubby little hands like ours could easily snag numerous bars. There was also nothing stopping us from going back more than once. Perhaps these people just wanted to fit in and play along with local tradition. We had no problem taking advantage of their naivete.
Grand Halloween bounties, once known to us only through tall tales told by classmates, were now right outside our door. Not since Christopher had raised a record sum in our school’s Unicef collection competition had Halloween been so thrilling.
We lived three wonderful years close to the greatest Halloween homes in the D.C. area. Each granted us strong takings—Snickers, Mars, and even Butterfingers—and kept us well-stocked with sugary treats through to Thanksgiving.
Our honeymoon with Halloween ended in 1992. We’d moved to Connecticut, and to a home seemingly miles from any other family. Halloween required traveling to another town. It required traipsing along crowded sidewalks and shuffling up to the doors of ho-hum bungalows. There were no silver trays. There were no full-size candy bars. Not since the time our father took us trick-or-treating in a Newport News, Virginia, mall had Halloween been so depressing.
I never went out on Halloween again.