I am 4. It is Hallowe’en, and we are finished collecting treats from the nearby houses. I am running in the heart of my cul-de-sac, with six other children, many of whom share my last name, each of us holding a hockey stick. The plastic blade I am using has been whittled down by the concrete of the road, but it is serving its main purpose for me, which is to appear as though I am a street hockey player. A boy whose grandparents live nearby stays on the sidewalk, respecting the wishes of his mother who does not understand that, while their rule may on some level protect his body from harm, it will stunt his social growth irreversibly. His grandfather, whose job it was to refill the candy vending machines, was an attractive Hallowe’en treat-giver, but three doors up from him lived Mr. Hayes, who would only give us a penny each and then act like we weren’t grateful enough, which maybe we weren’t. There were so many stairs leading up to the Hayes front door that the efficient child wouldn’t even bother.
Tired and eager to analyze our sugary haul, we go into my house and begin trading goodies. Truly flush for the only time all year, we start gambling with the rest. Acting as a precursor to my days as a poker player, this card-playing was never discouraged by our parents, who are upstairs playing 120s for money amounts kept low to avoid excluding our indigent uncle.
The holiday activities over, I make my way to my parents’ bed to wait for my brother to enter the room. He wears a grocery bag as a shirt so that he can rip it off and pretend he is Hulk Hogan before our wrestling match. After the fight, we jump up and down in a familiar pattern: “1-2-3 nervous, 1-2-3 breakdown.”