Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Memories

Today is Halloween and we’re supposed to get thunderstorms or high winds or something in Central Ohio. Does this mean that Trick-or-Treating is cancelled tonight?  Dunno. 

I probably won’t turn on our porch light either way.  Last year was the first year in our new house and I didn’t know what the Trick-or-Treat situation was in the neighborhood.  Nevertheless, I bought a ginormous bag of candy in preparation.  And, mind you, it was the good stuff.  Kit Kats and Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – none of that Dollar Store no-name stuff. 

But it turned out to be pretty dismal.  We got nary a single little ghoul or goblin.  Turns out there are very few kids in our neighborhood and the neighboring areas probably don’t want to bother with cul-de-sacs.  It’s either thru-streets or nothin’. 

I can understand that. I mean, the goal when you’re a kid is maximum candy collection because, frankly, you know there will be shrinkage.  You have to immediately discard the boxes of raisins and dental floss that some houses insist on handing out.  And you have to throw out any candy that has escaped its wrapper.  Probably your parents are going to filch some of your candy after you go to bed.  

But, most importantly, you know there will be candy in your bucket that you don’t like.

For me it was candy corn.  Yuck.  I couldn’t even give that stuff away. Try as I might, I couldn’t broker a trade with my younger siblings.  Even when they were barely old enough to string a complete sentence together, they were still too savvy to trade their Hershey’s bar for a couple pieces of plastic-tasting candy corn. 

I don’t know how much they focus on candy at my sister’s house nowadays, but my niece has spent the past couple years putting a lot of thought into choosing her Halloween costume.  Last year the kid went as “the body inside out” and she wore her “organs” on the outside of her clothes.  Her intestines were made out of panty hose and, well, I’m not sure what the other body parts were made out of. The pancreas and the liver looked particularly yucky.  But I had to give my niece a lot of credit for originality  – and my sister kudos for her creativity in crafting such an ambitious costume.
Rich Uncle Pennybags?
This year, my niece went as the little tuxedoed Monopoly Guy or Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly game. She looked adorable.  I don’t know this for sure, but I’m guessing that my sister was relieved that she only had to come up with a top hat, cane and spats for the dear child. Guts and brain matter not required.

But back when my sister and I were kids, we had to make our own costumes. Mom might have let us use a little black eyeliner, if need be, but that was about the extent of her involvement. Thus, our costumes were pretty amateurish, as I recall, and I don’t think we have a single photo of us as kids dressed up for Halloween.
Or is THIS the real Rich Uncle Pennybags?

I remember only one time getting a store-bought Halloween mask. I vaguely recall it being some sort of happy clown face, but don't quote me on that.  What I do remember for sure is that it had a flimsy piece of elastic stapled to either side of the mask, which was supposed to hold it onto my head. 

Yeah, like that worked.  My eyes were mashed into my glasses, which were mashed up against the eye holes that didn’t line up with my face so that it hurt every time I blinked. 

And it was hot.  With every breath I took, my glasses got steamed up and I had to stop and clear them so I could see. This definitely slowed down the candy collection process.

But I knew I couldn’t utter a single complaint because, well, I had begged my parents to buy me that mask and they had done so only reluctantly.

The mashed eyeballs-steamed eyeglasses problem wasn’t the worst of it, either. We’d gone to only a few houses before the elastic holding that hard plastic mask snapped and broke. Trying to fix it by sliding the now shorter piece of elastic into the space between the mask and the staple while rubbing the welt on my cheek AND holding on to my plastic Halloween bucket so that the candy didn’t spill out was a major undertaking.  Yeah, maybe that explains the “trick” part of Trick-or-Treat.

Thus, that was the first and last time I ever asked my parents to get me a store-bought Halloween mask. They were pretty savvy themselves, no?

While I don’t remember any Beggar's Nights getting cancelled due to inclement weather, I do recall many a Halloween costume ruined by having to wear our winter jackets over our costumes.  I mean, it’s not like we could fit whatever costume we’d devised from the rag bin over a bulky winter jacket. But the integrity of our costume was not of concern to our mother and her word was law, so we wore our winter jackets.  In retrospect, I can’t blame the woman.  She certainly did not want to deal with four simultaneous cases of sore throats, fevers and stuffy noses.

Ah well. Halloween is one of those “holidays” that bring back fun memories, whether you’re the kid ringing the doorbell or the person answering the door.

Hmmm. Maybe I will turn the porch light on tonight – just in case we get any brave cul-de-sac traveling ghouls or goblins. Wonder if I have any extra dental floss or little boxes of raisins lying around the house? Just kidding. At the very least, I think I can scrounge up a few Kit Kats.

So, whether you're escorting your kids as they Trick-or-Treat or you're the one answering the door, I wish you a Happy Halloween! Oh, and stay warm. (Maybe you wanna ruin your kids' costumes and put that winter jacket on over it -  just to be safe? Trust me - they'll thank you for it.  Someday.)

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