Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

As I sit and wait for the two or three Trick or Treaters that come by our house every year, I can't help but think of Halloweens past. Unfortunately, my memory only allows me to remember a couple of years, and I went as Superman for both of those. I think it was a rather ingenious costume; it was a set of Superman pajamas, but I wore a pair of red underwear over the pants, and pulled some red socks over my shoes. I couldn't have been more than 6 or 7 at the time, so it was perfectly acceptable to run around like that. I would be a little hesitant to try it now, and believe me, I thought about it.

Now this kid has some style. (Not me, but not far off either)
My cousin Richie was my usual partner in crime, and I remember him being along on at least one of these excursions. Unfortunately, the area I live in is rather sparsely populated, with the towns tending to be spread pretty far apart. We'd hit up the couple of neighbors near my old house, then our moms would have to drive us to the nearest town, which was a place called Nassawadox. Now, Nassawadox isn't a big town at all, and even though there couldn't have been more than 15 or 16 homes on the main street, it still felt like it took an eternity to reach the end. It usually didn't take long for us to have a sizeable amount of candy, since most of the folks that lived there were pretty generous. Of course there were a couple houses that always stiffed us out of our candy. One family that lived there had a son with Down's Syndrome. I promise you I'm not being a jackass, he literally had Down's. I'm assuming they must have been Jehovah's Witnesses, because the only things they handed out were religious pamphlets. We were polite kids though, so we said "Thank you", and kept on going. I have to admit, I'm amazed their house was never egged or TP-ed. I'm not sure why they didn't just turn off the lights, since that was always the universal symbol for "Out of Candy". The other house that stiffed us always handed out change instead of candy. I'm not sure what the idea was behind that, because handing out quarters and dimes to a couple hundred kids had to be more expensive than just buying a few bags of candy.  

Once we finished visiting all the houses on the street, we would head back home and check out our haul. Our parents had to go through every piece, because you know that one kid in that one town bit down into a Milky Way bar and found needles hidden within. Also, you never wanted apples, since they were almost always full of razor blades. I guess I don't need to tell you, I was too terrified to eat popcorn balls, because who knows what the hell was hiding in those things. You think I'm joking, but I didn't eat a popcorn ball until just a few years ago. Thankfully, there were no needles, cyanide or broken glass hidden within. Pretty much the only dangerous thing that ended up in our bags were Bit O' Honey candies. That's the only candy I know of that could chip your tooth then pull it out in the same motion. Those things were deadly, and I never had one that didn't taste like it had been in storage for 150 years.

Get a good look, that's the enemy.
Times have surely changed, and it feels like Halloween has become a shadow of its former self. For the past few years, Trick or Treaters have had curfews, and have to be finished by 8. Or they can take part in the travesty that is "Trunk or Treat", where a bunch of parents park their cars in a parking lot, and hand out candy from their trunks. It's certainly safer, I'll give them that. There's just no adventure in it though. That was part of the fun of Halloween, the fear that something was waiting in the trees between houses, ready to try and snatch you off and feed you to its young. The fear that you might get lost in the dark, and never find your way back to your mother's car. Hell, being afraid the whole time is what made Halloween so fun. Then you get that feeling of relief when you jump back in the car and shut the door, safely watching for monsters behind a barrier of glass and steel. Or watching your friend trying to open the door after you slammed it shut and locked it.

Maybe I was a bit of a jackass.

Happy Halloween everyone.

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