Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a kid. It was the one time of the year when I could go out and get as much as I wanted. I just had to put in the work to get to as many doorsteps as time and distance allowed.
I had two major costume themes growing up. The first was the classic Hobo. Back then it wasn’t in bad taste as we hadn’t invented homelessness yet. I went with the classic depression era tramp look, baggy coat, crumpled hat, smudged face, and the iconic kerchief on a stick bundle thingee. The rail-riding vagabond type I’d seen on the Red Skelton show, warming himself over a makeshift trashcan campfire, cooking beans in a can and roasting weenies on a stick.
A rather romanticized ideal of life on the road. Not the mentally ill squalor of today’s homeless, but looking back, a need for freedom and escape, a yearning to be away from constraint and the tyranny of society. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day analyzing my 12 year old psyche.
Then came the Knight in Shining Armor phase. No doubt a shrink would see a misguided attempt at the hero role in the family, but for me it was a practical approach to self defense.
At the end of our street lived an older guy who loved to terrorize us younger kids. He was a true villain, complete with henchmen and devious ways to separate us from our candy. He would prep laundry hampers full of water balloons, knowing that most of us used paper grocery bags to collect our candy. One well placed shot by his goons would soak our bags, and soon they would disintegrate, spilling candy into the street and killing our joy.
If that didn’t do the trick, then outright terror from firecrackers tied to rocks would certainly do us in. Again, he had an ample supply prepped, and would light them as his evil little sidekicks took aim at us coming down the hill, chasing us down as we scattered for cover.
After coming home one year a wet, miserable Hobo, I vowed never to be victimized again. But positioned at the end of the street, I had to get past this house if I ever wanted the luxurious supply of candy waiting for me in the neighborhoods beyond.
Enter the Knight. Or as I should say, The Shield. The knight getup was just an excuse to carry a huge shield, big enough to protect me from rocks and balloons, made from heavy cardboard covered in water resistant aluminum foil. It looked cool and worked very well.
So well that it was the last costume of my Halloween career. Three years in a row I made it past that house without a bit of worry. I even began to taunt the henchmen and their evil genius, taking many rounds square on my shield, laughing my way past their stronghold.
So how was it for you? Did you play out some fantasy or deep hidden desire? Did you go full-on slut or homicidal maniac? Or something cute and fuzzy to regress back to your family’s wholesome bosom?
As I’m getting ready for tonight’s Trick or Treaters, I’m curious to delve into your twisted psychosis, while I reminisce fondly of my youth on the greatest night of the year…