I was thinking about Halloween today, since we have some neighbors who seem to be seriously over-the-top with their decor for this "holiday". My wife informed me that they had placed rubber heads on pikes on either side of their sidewalk. Sure enough, there are some relatively lifelike severed heads there, not too far from my driveway and my small, impressionable children. I was tempted to call the HOA, but I haven't decided yet. There are only five homes on our street, and I don't want to seem like a party pooper, but dang!
At any rate, I was ruminating about my memories from Halloween, both as a kid and as a parent now.
When I was a child, my main memory involves wearing a hot mask made of _____ (I don't know what) with a thin rubber band to hold it in place. Taking off these masks always managed to take out some hair from the back of my head as well. One year when I was about six or seven, I had a lion mask and what kind of looked like lion pajamas. I remember putting my tongue though the undersized hole which was ostensibly supposed to serve as ventilation. I scraped my tongue back and forth on that tiny hole, feeling my taste buds erode. Truth be known, I wish I had an oxygen mask or a mini-fan to keep my face from sweating so much. The cool late October Dallas air never felt so good as when I was able to remove this stifling facewear.
When I was about 11 or 12, toward the tail-end of my trick-or-treating days, I remember getting a large grocery sack and my friends and I stayed out until some ridiculously late hour collecting candy. After returning home, my eyes were always "bigger than my stomach" and I would eventually go to bed feeling bloated and uneasy about what I had just consumed.
However, that bad feeling didn't last long, as I would arise the next morning and greet the day with some Snickers, candy corn, Joe Bazooka bubble gum, Now 'n' Later's, and whatever else I could cram down my gullet before my mom stopped me and made me eat a proper breakfast. That gigantic load of sweets usually wouldn't survive November 1st or 2nd at the latest. Yes, I was a candy junkie and I don't care who knows it.
Another year, in high school, I dressed all in white and made everyone guess what I was. I honestly had no idea either, but it was fun hearing the guesses all day. Once in college, I went to a costume party as a 1940's gangster, although I probably looked more like Walt Disney as a younger man. I remember the unique and excited reaction from my friends (and girlfriend) who had never seen me with my hair slicked back and with a mustache (drawn on – I couldn't have grown one then if I tried, and I did try). My girlfriend treated me like an exotic, rich, attractive stranger. Hmmm… maybe I should look into that mustache thing again. Actually, my wife HATES it when I try to grow one, so that likely won't happen.
As a parent, Halloween night feels different, with the exception of the year that my son and I went together as Sully and Mikey from "Monsters Inc.". That suit also could have used its own cooling system, as it was simply impenetrable by the wind. I probably sweated off about five pounds, but IT WAS REALLY FUN. Also, it must have been memorable, because people mentioned it several times to me months later ("Hey, aren't you that guy who was the blue monster for Halloween?" I guess it made a strong impression on people, and my son was incredibly cute as Mikey. He said, "I have one EYE!" more times than I could count that night.).
I will never forget the first time that we took my son trick-or-treating – he was not quite two. We would go to each home, knock or ring the bell, wait patiently, then whenever the neighbor answered, my son would immediately try to go inside. After about the third house, he seemed pretty perturbed with us, probably because he was wondering "Which of these people are we going to hang out with anyway?"
Once we were able to teach him about the candy part, he warmed to the idea, so we coached him on saying "Trick or treat" several times. Inevitably, he would stand quietly, accepting the treats, then the SECOND that the door closed, he would say, "Twit a tweet" to us. Oh well….
A couple of years later, he was a true master and my daughter went for her first outing. He was trying to teach her how to do it properly, and she was really looking up to him as the teacher. After three or four attempts at different homes, she got the hang of it, and began to just say, "Gimme…candee". Isn't that pretty much what we all want to say? Are we really going to perform a trick if we don't get a treat? I would like to nominate my daughter's innocent catchphrase as the new official Halloween slogan – "Gimme candy!"
In a couple of days, we will take our toddler daughter (barely 19 months now), and I will be interested to see what new memories are created Wednesday evening.
Happy early Halloween, everybody!