Halloween: The Good, The Bad, But Mostly The Ugly

In case you missed it, I love fall.  And Halloween is the best thing that has ever happened to the world and the sole reason I binge eat candy once a month; I am preparing my body for the forthcoming goodness of candy, just like Takeru Kobayashi before a big eating contest.    I might even be eating Twizzlers while composing this blog post.  Am I, or aren’t I?  (I so am.)  Halloween is awesome.  Dressing up, getting free candy, carving pumpkins, watching scary movies, apple picking, raking leaves, wearing sweaters, hot apple cider… Sorry, I just went off on a fall tangent there.

Some of my best memories are from Halloween.  Like how for one of my brother’s first Halloweens, we dressed him up as Frankenstein’s monster.  We painted his face and a cut up shoe box (to give him a boxy head, duh) green and added stitches, blood, and even bolts.  He looked good.  But when he looked in the mirror, he began to cry.

“What’s wrong?” my mom asked him.

His tears made his green make up start to run a bit and he looked at us.  “I’m so scary!” We then began laughing, and eventually he did too and then we got tons of candy and laughed and ate it all and became just all-around happy.

And the time we went trick-or-treating in Disney World when I was eleven?  Yeah, nothing beats that moment.  Going through the park in our costumes, getting candy from Disney princesses and going on Space Mountain 10 times in a row.  With candy.  Did I mention the candy?  What can make Disney World better?  Halloween.  That’s what.

Or the year we went trick-or-treating in the rich neighborhood and received the king-sized bars and even a whole caramel apple.  I think that was the same year that my parents dropped my brother and me–along with my godfather’s two sons–off at this Halloween block party because they wanted to go to some adult Halloween party with booze and stuff.  But when we were there, there was this little boy who was staring at my brother for an uncomfortably long time.  He was following us around the block party and staring at my brother.  We all knew he was staring.  He knew that we all knew.  It was weird.  So my brother then slowly turned his head, made eye contact with the boy, and screamed: “STOP STARING AT ME!”  The boy then ran away, we began laughing uncontrollably, and moved on to go jump around in the moon bounce while simultaneously eating lollipops.  The adult supervision was extremely lacking at this Halloween block party.

But later, while we were decorating pumpkins, this man walked up to my brother–with the little boy who was rudely staring, and began chastising him.  “My son tells me you yelled at him for looking at you.”

My brother, cool as can be answered.  “Well, no.  He was staring at me, not looking at me, and it was quite uncomfortable.”

“Maybe he was just admiring your cap.  It’s a nice cap you got there.”  He actually called my brother’s baseball hat a cap.  Yeah, this is the kind of people we were dealing with.

“I’m sorry, but he was not looking at my cap.  He was staring at my face.  It was creepy.”

The dad kept pestering my brother that he began getting annoyed.  “Look, he was staring at me.  You should teach your son not to stare at strangers.  It’s rude.”  And then we got kicked out of the block party and we walked back to my godfather’s house, laughing at the encounter and eating all of our large candy bars.

But with all good things, there are still bad moments.  And yes, I have some bad Halloween moments.  I guess, I will start from my youngest moments onward.  So here they are.

THE WORST HALLOWEEN MOMENTS EVER:

1.  Witch Bitch:  Now I love my grandma, she is a spark plug.  And she goes all out for holidays.  She decorates the shit out of her house and it is awesome.  And we always knew the moment she began decorating for Halloween because of this screaming doormat she had.  As soon as you walked through her front door, a loud voice would scream “AAAAHHHH” at you, instantly causing you to jump ten feet in the air, have a mini heart attack, and pee your pants.  My mom hated it so much that she would jump into Grandma’s house, so not to set off the doormat.  But when I was maybe five or six, she bought this witch decoration.  It was one of those motion-detecting, live-action, screaming at you kind of decoration.  If you walked in front of it, The witch began cackling at you, asking if you wanted some of her brew.  And then she would PULL OUT A SKULL FROM THE VAT AND THE SKULL WOULD BEGIN TALKING TO YOU.  I hated that thing.  I hated it so much, that I figured out the radius of its motion-detecting and routed out a way of walking through her living room without setting it off.  I was that paranoid by it.

Everyone knew I hated it.  Everyone made fun of me for being afraid of it.  But I just hated it.  And one day, my uncle, being the total jerk that he is, bought a king-size Snickers bar–my favorite at the time–and put it INTO the witch’s vat.  He then told me that he had bought me a present and had to go get it.  I stared at the enemy known as the witch and had to make the choice of whether or not I was going to get the chocolate bar and set off the witch, or just not get any candy.  I loved–and still do–candy that much.  Without realizing what I was doing, I ran as fast as I could up to the witch, snatched the candy bar and ran as fast as I could to the dining room where I hid under the kitchen table, eating my justly won reward.

But she still  has that stupid witch.  I am 23 years old and still paranoid about that stupid thing.

2.  Iron-On Irritation:  

My mom loved making iron-on holiday sweatshirts.  Loved it.  She made them all the time.  This really isn’t a Halloween-specific worst, but maybe an entire holiday nightmare.  They were terrible.  Glitter, teddy bears, iron-on appliques.  And she would MAKE me wear them.  They were just terrible.  “But Allex, why didn’t you just take the sweatshirts off?”  Because my mother was smart.  She would send me to school–especially in the fall, when coats were not really a necessity–without a coat.  Just the sweatshirt.  I had no choice.  And no, I am not talking about those new, hip, “ugly on purpose” sweaters the hipster kids are wearing these days.  These were not made to be ugly.  They just were.

Recess was like shooting fish in a barrel for the bullies of my class.  It was target practice.  It was a slaughtering.  Get the picture?  And you know who was the worst of them all?  Christopher Moore.  You know how you always had that arch nemesis in middle school?  Yeah, that was him.  He always made fun of me.  He would call be a lesbo and ugly and fatso for all eight years we went to school together.  Chris Moore, if you are reading this now, I just want you to know that everyone knows that your mom did your project for Spirit Week in fourth grade, and you didn’t deserve to win for best t-shirt design.  EVERYONE KNOWS, YOU FAKE!  And I know that they say that when boys make fun of you, it’s because they like you and blah, blah, blah.  NOPE, that was not the case, he was just a dick.  Sorry Chris, if you’re reading this, I hope that you’re a better person now because you were crap in elementary and middle school.  And yeah, I am a better football player than you, so stop teasing me for being able to catch.

Not to go off on another tangent or anything but seriously, those sweatshirts were just the worst.

3. Pink Power Ranger Paranoia:  Let’s get one thing straight:  90s Power Rangers were the shit.  My brother and I ate that shit up for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We loved it.  It was amazing.  So when I was in second grade, we went trick-or-treating as the green and pink rangers.  It was fun.  We got tons of candy.  We were happy.  But the next day at school, we went around the classroom telling everyone what we went as.  And after a few people say what they were, I slowly begin freaking out.

Because everyone is something a lot cooler than I was.  Baseball players.  Spice Girls.  Non-dorky things.  And I feel trapped.  My entire class is going to know how much of a nerd I am.  I am six and having this mental breakdown.  I couldn’t handle it.  I was having a panic attack at my desk.  Praying that no one found out that I was a pink Power Ranger.  How stupid could I be?  A pink Power Ranger?  How could I let my brother talk me into this?  I should have been a Spice Girl.  Sporty Spice at least.

So here I was, freaking out.  Hoping and praying that it never got around to me answering.   I think this was the moment that I truly began praying.  Going to Catholic school and all, I had religion thrown at me daily.  But this was the moment that I completely gave myself to it.  Please dear God, don’t make me say.  This was going to be worse than when we had to do biography reports and dress up as the people we researched.  I wanted to do Mia Hamm, but my mom made me do ELEANOR ROOSEVELT.  So while other kids in our class were dressed up as Derek Jeter or Amelia Earhart, I was dressed as an ugly, old woman.  (No offense to Eleanor Roosevelt enthusiasts.  But I WAS six.  What did I know?)

But thankfully, right before Mrs. Perciello made it to me, it was lunch.  And miraculously, I got out of it.  Although no one did find out about my terror, it was very self-damaging.  It ruined the afterglow of Halloween and made my candy taste a bit off with each bite.  But let’s be honest, I still ate it all.

4. Haunted House Hostility:  For a while, I went to an after school program called The Hide Out.  It was basically a place where working parents could drop their kids off and pick them up later.  It was awesome.  It was fun.  No one made (too much) fun of me for my ugly sweatshirts.  I had cool friends.  We were the cool crowd.  It was like a different world from my school.

But when I was in fourth grade, The Hide Out did this haunted house Halloween party.  It was quite simple.  They took huge refrigerator boxes and lined them up to make a “haunted house.”  Counselors (who were local high school students) played characters and would jump out and scare you and it was all a laugh and great fun for all.  Except for me.

I did not know that this was a problem for me.  I was just as excited as everyone else to be there.  We were at The Hide Out after hours, it was dark, there were fake cobwebs all over the place, and obviously, there was candy.  But I went through this haunted house and completely panicked.  I knew that it was only boxes.  Hell, I helped build it.  But for some reason, with the lights turned off and the mood set right, it was the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced.  It was like I was transported into Transylvania and walking through Dracula’s castle.  I couldn’t handle it.

And then Greg–his costume wasn’t even that good that I still knew which counselor it was–grabbed my leg.  That is not part of the protocol.  They’re not supposed to touch you.  That is Haunted House Making 101.  NEVER TOUCH THE PARTICIPANTS.  So what did I do?

I ran, dear readers.  I ran as fast as I could through that haunted house.  And screamed.  I ran and screamed throughout the entire tunnel of refrigerator boxes.  I can’t tell you what else was there, or who else was with me.  I sprinted through that fake haunted house and came out panting.  I was ruined.  I was a broken human being.  And I fully believe that it is the main reason that I hate being touched so much.  Greg from The Hide Out creeped me out for all eternity.  Thanks a lot, Greg.

5. Canine Candy Catastrophe:  One year, long after my brother and I moved onto using pillow cases instead of containers for trick-or-treating, we made a large haul in candy.  I think I may have been in high school.  But my brother is 4 years younger than me and I am short, so it wasn’t weird for a kid in high school to still be trick-or-treating or anything.  But we had a good harvest that year and had separated our candies into types, enjoyability, and tradeabiliy already.  The moments right after trick-or-treating is just as important as the actual getting of free candy.  It’s when the marketing strategies begin.

My brother and I had shared stock options, dissected which ones were crap candies–receiving Good and Plenty’s is just a slap in the face–and decided which candies would reign highest quality.  After doing so, we put our candies back into our pillowcases, grabbed a few for the road, and went to sleep.  But when I woke up on All Soul’s Day and came downstairs into our den, I realized something.  There were wrappers everywhere.  I ran to where my bag of candy was left and found it not there.  Instead, my pillowcase was lying next to our sweet and lovable dog, Maggie’s bed.  I picked it up, and found it empty.

She had eaten my candy.  All of it.

Not only that, she had eaten it all through my favorite The Nightmare Before Christmas pillowcase.  So not only did I have no candy for that year, but I also no longer had my favorite pillow case.  To say I was furious would be the largest understatement of the year.  I had nothing to show for that Halloween.  All that work was wasted in one night.  You know that Jimmy Kimmel video about parents telling their kids they ate all their Halloween candy?  Well at least at the end of those nightmares, the kids had their beloved chocolate back.  I, however, did not.  Worse, I had to share my brother’s candy.  We had earned our candies on our own.  And the fact that we had to share was just blasphemous.  But I couldn’t hold a grudge against Maggie.  Because she was literally the sweetest dog in the entire world.  I was upset, but I could never hold it against her.  She is too wonderful for that.

So yes.  With every good, there is something bad.  But this never discouraged me.  With each new year, there is nothing but possibility.  Although I am WAY too old to go trick-or-treating, I am also at that age where getting dressed up is again acceptable.  Although now, instead of candy, you get alcohol.  But let’s be honest: candy would still be better.

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