Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Halloween Past

I know this will raise the ire of the Soulfish wife who often accuses me of wallowing in the past like a hog in a mudhole; here's an essay I wrote about Halloween for Goblinhaus last year. It's about the last time I went trick or treating as a kid and the November 1st that followed.

There comes a time in life when you have to give up certain things. Trick or treating is one of these things. Sure, I go with my daughters (and Liam went this year) now, but I'm not actively pursuing tricks or treats. Teenagers going from house to house are usually sad kids trying to hold onto the past or obnoxious jerks trying to greedily grab more candy than the little kids. Teenagers exist in a prolonged liminal state, liminal meaning in between. They're not adults, yet they shouldn't act like children.

The autumn of 1980 saw me in the same situation. I was 13 years old. I wouldn't play with my Hot Wheels cars in public, but I had mighty drag races inside my home. My parents wouldn't let me cross the main highway on my bicycle, but I would anyways. I was too old to trick or treat, but I was too young to go out with the older guys who were going to camp out in the local cemetery. The evening began with no clue as to how it would turn out. What proceeds is an attempt to capture a little of the flavor of that night 24 (now 25) years ago.

My best friend Jay was going out rolling houses and then he was going to spend the night in the cemetery. I was so jealous of him and mad at my parents for not letting me go. I was determined I was going to have some fun. The evening grew darker and I started walking around the neighborhood. I hooked up with two other friends and we started telling ghost stories. At some point we decided we would soap some windows. We get to the first house when the owner sees us and invites us up to her porch.

Even though none of us were dressed up, she gave us candy. We didn't soap her windows and then the very same thing happened at the next home. We decided to go home, do what we could for costumes, and go trick or treating after all. I rushed home, grabbed two baseball hats and a scarf to become Sherlock Holmes. My two friends put on some camouflage face paint and we were off to beg for candy.

It wasn't long and we all had bags full of candy. We expected some of the houses to turn us away because we teenagers, but everywhere we went we were greeted with affection. I believe that most of the smaller kids went to different neighborhoods. Maybe the folks on our street were just lonely. Or maybe they knew we weren't going to be throwing toilet paper into their trees that night. That was what Halloween was about for most kids our age.

The night grew cool with a hint of rain in the air. The leaves crunched underfoot as we wandered from yard to yard hoping we could see a ghost before we went in for the night. We were sure the older guys were living it up at the grave yard. Our parents began to holler for each of us. It might not have been the most exciting Halloween in history. We were probably too old to have been going door to door begging for candy. But it felt right. It was a last sweet taste of innocence for us.

The next morning was a sunny Saturday. My cousin Freddy came to visit me. We took a walk around the neighborhood to see if anybody had rolled it anywhere. It was a pretty clean place. Most of the activity had been on the other side of town where the cemetery was located. At one house we discovered some unused rolls of toilet paper. I guess somebody had been planning to use them, but chickened out. Since the people in the house were gone, Freddy and I decided to try our hand at rolling in broad daylight.

We did a bang up job. The trees were filled when we finished. We had enough to make toilet paper bunting along their fence. The mail box got a very nice display of white bows and a couple of empty tubes in the box. It was an odd way to spend November 1st. Nobody seemed to notice us and if they did they didn't care. We'd run and hide behind the house when a car drove by. We got the exhilaration of Halloween in the bright of day. And I wouldn't trick or treat until I had kids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always had fond memories of Halloween, (except for the time I was going to dress up like Gene Simmons and my dad got the bright idea to use white shoe polish for makeup - man that burned!I didn't even get to go that year!)that's why I take my kids now.