us and them
this is about life. it is exerpt from the story us and them. i was to lazy to write all of it.
Halloween fell on a saturday that year, and by the time my mother took us to the store, all the good costumes were gone. My sisters dressed up as witches and i went as a hobo. i'd look forward to going in disguise to the Tomkeys' door, but they were off at the lake, and their house was dark. Before leaving leaving, they had left a coffee can full of gumdrops on the front porch, along side a sign reading DON'T BE GREEDY. In terms of halloween candy, individual gum drops were just about as low as you could get. This was evidenced by a number of them floating in an adjacent dog bowl. it was discussting to think that this was what a gumdrop might look like in your stomach, and it was insulting to be told not to take to much of something you didnt really want in the first place. "Who do those Tomkeys think they are?" my sister Lisa said. The night after Halloween , we were sitting around watching TV when the doorbell rang. Visitors were infrequent at our house, so while my father stayed behind, my mother, sisters, and i ran downstairs in a group, opening the door to discover the entire Tomkeys familly at our front stoop. the parents looked as they always had, but the son and duaghter were dressed in costumes- she as a ballerina and he as some kind of rodent with terry-cloth ears and a tail made from what looked to be an extension cord. it seemed they had spent the prevois evening isolated at the lake and missed the oppertunity to abserve halloween. "So, well, i guess we're trick-or-treating now, if thats okay," Mr. Tomkey said. I attributed their behavior to the fact that they didnt have a TV, but telivsion doesnt teach you everything. Asking for candy on Halloween was called trick-or-treating, but asking for candy on November 1rst is called begging , and it made people people uncomfortable. this was one of the things you were susposed to learn simply by being alive, and it angered me that the Tomkeys didnt understand it. "why of course its not to late," my mother said. "Kids, why dont you...run and get...the candy""but the candy is gone," my sister gretchen said. "you gave it all away last night.""you mean our candy?" lisa said. "the candy that we earned?" This was exactly what our mother was talking about, but she didnt want to say this infront of the tomkeys. in order to spare their feelings,she wanted them to believe that we always kept a bucket of candy lating around the house, just waiting for someone to knock on the door and ask for it. "Go on,, now," she said. "hurry up."My room was situated right off the foyer, as if the Tomkeys had looked in that direction, they could have seen the my bed and the brown paper bag marked MY CANDY. KEEP OUT. i didnt want them to know how much i had, and so i went into my room and shut the door behind me. Then i closed the curtains and emptied the bag out onto the bed, searching for watever was crummiest . all my life choclate has made me ill. i dont know if im allergic or what, but even the smallest amount leaves me with a blinding headache. eventally , i learned to stay away from it, but as a child i refused to be left out. the brownies were eaten, and when the pounding began i would blame the grape joice or my mothers ciggarette smoke or the tightnesss of my glasses- anything but the choclate. My candy bars were poison but they were a brand name, and so i put them in pile number one, which definitly would not go to the tomkeys. out in the hallway i could hear my mother straining for something to talk about. "A boat!" she said. "that sounds marvelous. can you just drive it right out on to the water?" "acually we have A trailer," Mr. Tomkey said. "so what we do is back it into the lake.""oh, a trailer. What kind is it?" "Well, its a boat trailer," mr.tomkey said. "Right, but is it wooden or, you know....i guess im asking what style of trailer do you have?"Behing my mothers words were two messages. the first was "Yes, i am talking abouot boat trailers, but im also dying." the second, meant for only my sisters and me, was "if you dont immediatly step forward with that candy you will never again expiriance freedom, happiness, or the possibility of my warm embrace." i knew that it was just a matter of time before she came into my room and started collecting candy herself, grabbing indescriminitly, with no regatd for my rating system. had i been thinking straight i would have hidden the most valuable items in my dresser drawer, but instead, panicked by the thought of her hand on my doorknob, i tore off wrappers and beagan cramming candy bars into my mouth despratley, like someone in a contest. most were miniture, which made them easier to accumulate, but there was only so much room, and it was hard to chew and fit more in at the same time. the headache began immediatley and i chalked it up to tension. my mother told the tomkeys she needed to check up on something, and then she opened the door and stuck her head inside my room. "What the hell are you doing?" she wispered, but my mouth was too full to answer. "i'll just be a minute," she called, and as she closed the door and moved twards my bed, i began breaking the wax lips and and candy necklaces from pile two. these were the second best things i recieved, and while it hurt to destroy them it would hurt even more to give them away. i had just started to mutilate a box of Red Hots when my mother pried them from my hands. accedentilly finishing the job for me. BB sized pellets clattered to the floor, and as i followed them with my eyes she snatched up a roll of necco wafers."Not those," i pleaded, but rather than words my mouth expelled choclate, chewed choclate, which fell onto the sleeves of her sweater. "Not those. Not those." She shook her arm, and the mound of choclate dropped like a horrible turd upon my bed spread. "you should look at yourself," she said. "i mean really look at yourself."Along with the necco waifers she also took several tootsie pops and half a dozen carmels wrapped in cellophane. i heard her appolagize to the tomkeys for her absence, and then i heard my candy hitting the bottom of their bags. "what do you say?" mrs. tomkey asked.And the children answered,"thank you."while i was in trouble for not brining my candy sooner my sisters were in more trouble for not bringing theirs at all. we spent the early part of the evening in our rooms, then one by one we eased our way back upstairs, and joined our parents infront of the tv. i was last to arrive and took a seat on the floor beside the sofa.the show was a western and even if my head hadnt been throbbing, i doubte i would have had the wherewithal to follow it. a posse of outlaws crested a rocky hill top, squinting at s flurry of dust advancing from the horizon, and i though again of the tomkeys and how alone and out of place they looked in their dopey costumes. "what was up with that kids tail?" i asked. "shhhhhh," said my familly. for months i had protected and watched over these people, but now, with one stupid act, they had turned my pity into something hard and ugly. the shift wasnt gradual, but immediate, and it provoked an uncomfortable feeling of loss. we hadnt been friends, the tomkeys and i, but still i had given them the gift of my curiousity. wondering about the tomkeys familly made me feel generous, but now i would have to switch gears and find pleasure in hating them. the only alternitive was to do as my mother instructed and take a good hard look at myself. this was an old trick designed to turns ones hatred inward, and while i was determined not to fall for it, it was hard to shake the mental picture snapped by her suggesstion: here is a boy sitting on a bed, his mouth smeared in choclate. he is a human being, but he is also a pig, surrounded by trash and gorging himself so that others may be denide. were this the only image in the entire world than you would be forced to give it your full attention, but fortunatley there are others. this stage coat, for instance, coming around the bend with a cargo of gold. this shiny new mustang convertable. this teenage girl, her hair a buetiful mane, sipping pepsi through a straw, one picture after another, on and on until the news, and whatever came after the news.
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Source type: Book
dress your famillty in corduroy and denim