So let me just kick this whole thing off by saying my Mom and Dad always appeared to be good people.
They came from good families, a hearty midwestern stock and all. And as parents? They meant well. I mean, God bless their hearts, they tried their best.
But looking back on it, years later? I don’t know how they went so wrong.
You see...Mom and Dad taught me the important things in life:
Never put your tongue on the stove
Always appreciate the value of a dollar
Constantly look for the best in people
Again...never put your tongue on the stove. (Long story involving fondue night and 2 trips to the ER...yeah, like YOU were a friggin angel!)
Now, with all of Mom and Dad’s loving care, they had big hopes for a happy, normal son. However they soon realized that was not to be. So when it came to holidays, their boy turned his back on the warm and fuzzy, and embraced the creepy and crawly. That’s when, Gentle Reader, yours truly found...Halloween.
Why Halloween? Are you kidding me right now? Halloween has all the stellar elements you could ever want in a holiday! I mean holy crap it has monsters, pirates, creepy crawlies! What more could you want?
Then, on the lighter side, you got your fairy princesses, your unicorns, I mean it has a little something for everyone. Other holidays? Please. (insert eye roll here)
Halloween is the only holiday where you are practically invited to scare the crap out of people and spook them out for the fun of it! I mean how fucking cool is that? All the other American holidays are all nicey nicey....ooh look we have presents....ooh look the happy bunny left colored eggs and chocolates around the house! Sure, it is good to have a feel-good holiday here and there. Yet many holidays are coated in so much sugary sweetness that they seem...well...boring.
So now you understand where I am coming from. Throughout my life, All Hallows Eve has been my thing that love. So now, Gentle Reader, now that you and I have an understanding, a history together if you will... I want to share a little bit...a little story..a little something I like to call:
Ummm..yeah, okay this story really has nothing to do with the music dying...I just thought that sounded like a good subtitle...makes it sound like the story has some depth and emotional significance you know?
Too much? Ummm..yeah..you know what? You’re right...just the Halloween of Shame thing then...let’s go with that..The music part? Forget I ever said it. My bad. Continue on.
It goes a little something like this:
I was 7 years old. It was early October, and as each day dropped off the calendar, Halloween’s boney fingers crept closer and closer. I could practically smell the candy corn in the air, and the “fun-sized” chocolate bars were sprouting up everywhere.
Our family lived on a farm, so it was always road trip time whenever we met up with friends. Just a few miles into the city, Jimmy lived in the suburbs, David lived in the suburbs, Bill and Brent lived in the suburbs...okay okay maybe everyone just lived in the suburbs and it was just us out on the farm. Regardless, everything it seemed involved a drive.
At Halloween, when it came time for Tricks or Treats, the need to drive to a more populated area also applied. The candy to effort ratio really didn't pan out in a farming community with a house every half mile or more. I mean, unless we wanted 3 candy bars over the course of 3 hours and 5 miles or something like that,..that wasn't going to work. So whenever it came time for trick or treating, the folks would drive us into the city.
Gentle Reader: Where in the city?
Eric: Thank you, Gentle Reader, I’m glad you asked.
St. Johns, Michigan is not a huge city. However, it was big enough for there to be a variety of neighborhoods. All of this was key demographic material that a 7 year old took into careful consideration when selecting a neighborhood for Tricks or Treats.
Houses close together
Full candy bars
Lots of homes in one group
No dog poo
So while you may have a best friend that you would go to the ends of the earth for? It was well understood by all Halloween aficionados, that a well planned Tricks or Treats neighborhood plan was a fragile thing and not to be messed with. That sometimes led to hard conversations.
“Ooooh yeah, Jimmy..ummm you’re cool and all? But I went through your neighborhood last year and, can we be honest here? Not really the best selection. Oh yeah, and coming back to your place afterward? I mean your dad is a dentist Jimmy! Not too cool of him asking to donate half of my stash!”
Yeah, it kinda went like that.
So the plan for this year was to go with this guy I knew, Kyle. Now Kyle and I weren’t best of friends. He was a good guy, but a bit quirky and he and his pals ran outside my usual 3rd grader social circle. However, I heard a rumor that he had a stellar neighborhood for some serious trick or treat action. How can you turn that down right? You don’t.
So it was time to prepare:
List of candy faves: CHECK
Practice post-trick or treat candy exchange negotiations (i’ll give you 2 Twizzlers for one 3 Musketeers): CHECK
Trick or treat partners established: CHECK
Costume. Oh yeah baby. Costume.
So I found this book at the local grocery store. (Where you’ll find all the fine literature in a wire rack next to day old cream filled baked goods...seriously good deal on pastries if you can get there by 8:30...ask for Lolly!)
Anyway, it called to me. The book, not the maple bars...It was titled:
“Oh My God You are Not Going To Believe How Fucking Scary You Are Going To Look: A Super Monster Movie Make-Up Guide!”
....or something like that. It looked sooo fucking professional. I had to own it. I had money set aside for something very, very special...and this, my friends...was it. I was amazed. I had to share with Mom. Let her know about this majesty of the macabre, this guidebook to the grotesque!
Scenario: At the grocery store. Mom filling up the cart with Hamburger Helper, a gallon of Reunite (on ice...so nice!) and a carton of Parliaments.
Me: “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” (Repetition is the best way to get noticed)
Me: “I gotta get this book! It has tons of super scary costume ideas! Oh my gosh I could be Dracula or Frankenstein or a Zombie...or a..a...ummm..! They all look so super scary! Oh my gosh! Do you think the Mummy would be too scary? I mean I wanna be scary but I dunno? How about the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Do you think he is in there? Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!!”
Mom: “Mmmmhmmm?” (as she checks out the sale on BallPark hotdogs for the Hudson home weekly Beans n’ Franks night)
Me: “It looks super cool Mom! But can you help me with my costume again this year? Pleeeeeeeeaaase??? That would be so cool! Oh my gosh you would be the bestest Mom ever! (oh my gosh...)
Mom: “Mmmmhmmm. Sure.” She takes the book from me and gives it a parental once-over and hands it back. “Eric, you know Halloween isn’t for a few weeks anyway...we’ll have plenty of time.”
“We’ll have plenty of time” she said.
That line has haunted my dreams ever since.
The second I got home I raced to my room and opened OMGYANGTBHFSYAGTL: A Super Monster Movie Makeup Guide and raced through it. Making sure not to drool on, or wrinkle any of the disgustingly wonderful images inside, I carefully pulled back the page. Each one revealing a nearly bottomless pit of the macabre!
The book had the usual line of monsters: Frankenstein, a realistic Dracula, etc. Further in, I found more of the classics: “Creepy Guy with Brain showing” or “Guy with Flesh Falling Off his Face.” I perused the book like a guide for fine wines. In my mind I had costume discussions with some sort of Sommelier of the Undead.
Me: Hmmmm..this one seems a bit too grotesque...no..that one is too disgusting...Do you have anything with a strong spooky factor and just a whisper of gore?
Sommelier of the Undead, we’ll call him Karl: Very good sir! May I recommend you peruse our Bela Legosi line?
This book was fantastic.
So which look do I choose? I want to say that the perfect one just jumped out at me. That there was a flash of light and a vampire bat landed on my shoulder whispering the ultimate costume choice in my ear. But it wasn’t like that. Finding the right costume takes a lot of time, energy and research. I needed a plan.
I would try bringing it up in casual conversation at school. I would try to find out my classmate’s costume plans without revealing any of my own. It was a delicate bit of espionage for a 7 year old.
Scenario: At school cafeteria. Rocking my Snoopy lunchbox, trying not to make folks jealous. Approaching my friend Dave, sitting, eating his dill pickle sandwich.
Me: Sooooooo Dave....Ummmmm...Halloween this year right? Big day..big day....yep yep yep...Soooooo any big plans for...wha? Ooooooh, Frankenstein eh? Hmmmm...fine choice...fine choice...I think that suits you...no really...you have the shoulders...you could pull it off...yeah, yeah...Oh me? Ummm....still working on a few things...working it out and ummm..Oooh look at the time..yeah...I gotta...I gotta thing...gotta run...but we’re still on for kickball right? Meet you at the monkey bars later? Hey yeah...good catching up with you Dave!
After days and days of intensive 7 year-old super spy work, and laborious readings over my makeup guide, I finally came to a conclusion: The Wolfman.
Oh yeah baby..the Wolfman! Scary, growling, frothing....OMG he is one fucking scary beast! And that was going to be me all over! I could just picture it.
I would ring the doorbell, anxiously waiting in the glow of a dim porchlight, when suddenly, the door would open. All the other kids would yell “Trick or Treat” in those wimpy little voices of theirs...beggars for candy. Whereas I would be growling in the crowd. A frothing, snarling beast of a boy! The homeowners would recoil in fear! Who was this half boy half beast on their doorstep? They would seriously fear for their own safety! They would throw handfuls of candy at me in self-defense! Hoping that somehow the flying Twizzlers would cause a distraction! Maybe confuse this beast...and finally....when the opportunity presented itself, they would race back inside! In their crazed mental state they would slam the door shut behind them and latch every available lock! Once inside they would run screaming to the phone to call the authorities about this abomination that appeared before them! Call the police! The FBI! The National Guard! There is a sugar-crazed boy-beast on the loose! Our community is in peril!!! Save us all!
It would be magic.
In the days to come, I had a few conversations with Mom. They all seemed to be variations on a theme, but they went kinda like this:
Me: Soooooo Mom....how ya doin? Ooooh....I see it’s beans and franks night tonight! Mmmm...You make the best beans and franks ever! You are the bestest Mom in the whole wide world! I don’t tell you that enough little lady...You are Mom-extraordinaire!
Mom: (Not looking up)Mmmmmhmmmm
Me: Sooooo....know you’re busy...got a lot on your plate here...places to go..things to do...but ummm..hey...was wondering when we could pencil in some time for ummm..you know...costume shopping...I got a list right here of all the things I am gonna need for my scary Wolfman look!”
Mom: Mmmmhmmmmm...Can you set out napkins? You know, Halloween isn’t for two weeks. We’ve got plenty of time Eric.
Me: Oh hey, hey, hey, I know, I know...Puh-len-teeeee of time! No presh! Nope, no pressure at all. Just, you know, trying to get a little costume time on your calendar. I will ummm...check in with you again later when umm...you may have a bit more time. You just focus on those beans and franks for now...gettin em perfect. Wow...did you go to a culinary institute or anything ‘cause....
Mom: Just go get your sisters and wash up for dinner.
And that’s how it went around the house. I would bring it up, and Mom kept reminding me we had all the time in the world. It was as if time stood still for that woman! I would talk to my friends at school and the subject of costumes inevitably came up.
Friend of Eric #1: Yeah, so anyway, I’ve been working with my Dad on my costume. Yeah. He knows all about hydraulic systems which really helps my giant robot costume. I should be able to lift about a gazillion pounds with these bionic arm things. Plus he is installing real lasers for the eyes so I will also be able to use my eyes to cut through solid steel doors. Gonna be pretty danged sweet.
Friend of Eric #2: Yeah, I know what you mean. My folks are helping me out with my Godzilla costume. My dad works with industrial rubbers and plastics so he had a suit custom fit for me. It looks awesome. Meanwhile, my mom rigged up the flames that will shoot out of my mouth. Should be able to shoot fire about 20 feet. Yeah, could be the sweetest Halloween ever!
Eric: Ummm..that sounds pretty sweet i guess.
Friend of Eric #3: So Eric, whats up with your costume? How’s the Wolfman coming along? That looked pretty sweet in your “OMGYANGTBHFSYAGTL: A Super Monster Movie Makeup Guide”
Eric: Yeah..well..you know...It’s a work in progress. You can’t rush these things. You have to find just the right materials. You don’t wanna just use any old stuff. I mean you saw the book. The Wolfman is going to be pretty spectacular. You have to find pretty specific makeup and materials to achieve THAT level of horror. That's what I am shooting for here. But it’s coming along..it’s coming along...Yep....yep....mmhmmm…
Cut to Eric racing home as fast as he can. It is now the day before Halloween and thus far, nothing...nada...zippo...on the costume front. I race through the house, find Mom and explain my plight. I beg her, I plead with her to help me! I pull out the list of materials necessary for a proper transformation. Materials required to reach the desired, no wait, necessary Level of Horror that this 7 year old desperately needed to achieve.
I begin to read the list out loud: Dark Brown Make-up Base...Darker Brown Makeup Stick....Mom glances over the top of her newspaper, and cuts me off, a tired looking Parliament dangling from her lips.
“Eric, honey, I think we already have most of that stuff here already. I think we are going to be fine.”
But what about the costume itself ? I ask. What about the clothes part?
Mom put down the paper and said “Well let’s go check things out!”
Oh my gosh! She is helping me right now! I am on my way! Mom says the makeup part is probably good so really all I need to worry about is the clothing part now! Oh my gosh! I mean she knows right?
We go up to my room and find some old jeans and some older flannel shirts. “See Eric? These would work! I can take some scissors and shred them up a little bit. Make you look scary for your friends.”
Perfection. That is going to be awesome! I have some shredded clothes, cause I mean, the Wolfman, he is all shredded and scary right? Put on some work boots or something. I think Mom may actually be onto something here. Suddenly my costume fears were decreasing. Mom is helping just like she said. The clothes part have serious potential. I mean, I won’t have a custom made Godzilla costume, but once I get the scary Wolfman makeup on...Watch OUT! This is from a professional Halloween Make-up book. So they mean serious business!
Halloween is tomorrow.
So Halloween that year was on a Saturday. Which meant I had all day to get ready. If it were up to me, I would be all Wolfman-ed up and ready to go at 8AM!
Dad: Oh Honey? What the heck is this incredibly frightening beast doing at the breakfast table in front of a bowl of Cocoa Puffs?
Me: Who me? Oh, you know...just chillin’...enjoying a nutritious breakfast!
But no....I had family stuff to do. Chores...Blah, blah, blah. As I labored through the day, all I could do was watch the clock....ticking closer....and closer....I had my scary wolf clothes laid out on the bed ceremoniously. They lay there, awaiting the transformation from mere clothes...to wolf-wear! It would be amazing! It would be incredible! It would be…
“I sure hope this weather clears up.”
That’s dad. Looking out the window at the drizzling rain and darkening clouds.
“Getting a little colder out there too.”
This is not the kind of thing you want to hear on Halloween day. Not like Dad is a bona-fide meteorologist or anything. But then again, nothing, but nothing will stop the Tricks or Treats. For some of us, it is a mission.
5PM: Scheduled Trick or Treat Time
2PM: Moooooooommmm!!!!! Is it time yet? Is it time yet?!!
Mom assured me that it indeed was NOT time. That the clock was my friend and that we had plenty of hours left in the day.
2:30 PM: Moooooooommmm!!!!! Is it time yet? Is it time yet?!!”
At this point she said it was getting close. I didn’t want to get done early and ruin it by sitting around the house did I?
3:00 PM: I am dying here. Seriously. This is killing me. Two hours to the greatest holiday event ever? Two hours left? I need to prepare! I am not even close to ready! This is killing me!
Mom looks over at me....I’m pacing...waiting nervously...anxiously for her to start my transformation from boy to beast. As she stubs out her cigarette she says “Okay kiddo! Let’s do this! Go get your book!” Get it? Like it hasn’t been waiting at the dining room table for three days opened to the exact page? The horrifying face of the Wolfman staring out at passers by?
I grab mom by the hand and we race over. My sisters pull up chairs as well. Jealous, I’m certain, of the bizarre metamorphosis to come. From Brother to Beast. It will be nothing less than extraordinary!
Mom pulls out a big box of makeup from the bathroom. While I’m not looking to go as Max Factor for Halloween, I have been assured that this bin of sticks, creams and powders will have everything we need.
Mom: Okay...first off...it says we need dark brown makeup for a base! Hrrrmmm...
Eric: Okay first off...No “Hrrrmmm.” There will be absolutely, positively no “Hrrrmmm-ing!” We NEED this dark brown makeup! It says so in the book!!
Mom: Well...It doesn’t look like we have that exact shade. We may need to improvise.
Eric: Improvise? Improvise? There will be no, I repeat, NO improvisation! Do you understand what is at stake here woman?
At that point Mom pulls back a lid on a container that I swear looked rusted shut. She peeled it opened and a cloud of dark red makeup filled the room. I don’t know if she had a previous job as a circus clown before I was born, and I’m not really an expert on my color wheel, but I DO know that red does not equal brown.
Mom: Well would you look at that! This will work just fine honey!
At that point she begins to cover my entire face with red makeup, assuring me that it looks convincingly scary. Now, I don’t know about scary, but it does look disturbing. I mean, I am not going as Satan for Halloween (although file that away...Satan could be good for next year. Our priest Father Hankard may not be on board, but still, the Catholic Church has to take one or two for the home team right?)
Next: deep dark brown wrinkles.
According to the book these are drawn in to give me an old wrinkled dog look. The book makes it seem like it is inconceivable to go without as they add a certain “verité” to the whole ensemble.
Eric: AGAIN with the “Hrrrmmm!” NOT exactly filling my heart with hope here Mom.
Mom: Well, we have white! I know that’s not quite dark brown, but still, it will stand out and Eric, believe you me, it will look super scary!
Yeah..well..I guess...I mean okay...the book says dark brown..but you ARE my Mom...I mean you wouldn’t steer me wrong right?
Mom proceeds to use the white stick to put in “wrinkles.” Since it is white and not dark brown, the wrinkles look more like highlights, making my face seem puffier and rounder instead of wrinkled and dog-like. I sat in the chair. Not quite understanding what was happening. The transformation went a bit differently in my head. I mean...I’m hoping I’m looking scary.
Mom: Okay Eric, now it says we need...what is this? Brown wool?
Eric: Yes! Yes! Brown wool! It is the piece de resistance! It is what makes a boy a beast! The brown wool shows that I am slowly transforming into a drooling, growling beast that would steal the candy out of your hand while contemplating if I should rip your heart out in the process! The brown woolly fur is what makes the Wolfman the Wolfman!!
Mom: Oh honey, I don’t think we have any brown wool.
My heart stopped.
I don’t know how many ambulances are called in for 7 year old Halloween costume-related heart issues, but if there was a certified category for that kind of thing...I would be number one on the list.
Mom: Let’s see what we can find kiddo!
Eric: Ummm...excuse me? What is this lame ass “Let’s see what we can find” crap?! I mean what? I need big scary, fuzzy brown fur just screaming out from every pore! I need to be the imposing animal that I was meant to be! You said we had everything! YOU said we were all good! YOU said that it would take no time at all for your only son to transform into something totally frightening! YOU said...
Mom: Ahhh HERE we go!
Eric: Oh sweet Jesus you scared me Mom! I thought you were going to be trouble. I thought this was going to be the worst Halloween ever. I thought...
“These cotton balls will work just fine! We have some old spirit gum from your sister’s costume last year! We can take the cotton balls and kind of stretch them out a bit so they look like fur! Oh this is going to be just fine!”
And at that moment....
I died a little bit inside.
I looked at the clock
4:00 PM No time for a backup plan.
No time to get last year’s costume out of storage and put it all together.
Sitting in the chair...Resolved to let my Mom finish at least some semblance of a costume...I just sat there. I just sat there as she happily applied cotton balls to my face. Humming to herself...Brushing the spirit gum onto my cheeks and sticking each little bright white cotton ball onto her increasingly gloomy son. One, by one, by one. They went on. Her smile grew larger. “Oooh Eric you are going to look sooooo scary tonight!!”
She was lying.
I knew she was lying.
I knew this costume was going horribly, horribly wrong.
Mom finished her small town movie magic and I was left..resigned...sitting in the dining room chair. I could tell by my sisters’ reactions that I had not, repeat, not achieved the level of horror that I had so eagerly anticipated. My face was a mish mash of smudgy red makeup and cotton balls. Disturbing yes. Horrifying? The only thing horrifying was knowing I had to go out in public that way.
“Now let’s get you upstairs to put on the rest of your costume!” Mom said with parental glee as she lit up another Parliament, evaluating her work. “This is going to be very nice. You look very scary honey.”
I didn’t look scary. At. All.
I dragged myself upstairs and looked at the shredded shirt and jeans that Mom had cut up for me. Maybe a wild man? Maybe if I just play it up I will just look like some crazed guy and still freak some people out. I thought about my friends’ Godzilla and Robot costumes that would be walking the streets. I thought about the armies of undead that would be going out for Tricks or Treats. I put on my clothes and looked in the mirror.
The Wolfman was not looking back at me.
I was going to make this work. I could do it. I would just have to play it up!. Growl. Froth. Be the scariest I could be. Like all those feel good books and shows tell you...it is all inside of you...not on the outside. I was going to have to dig deep. Play off the makeup and costume as if this is what I intended all along! Okay! Okay! I could do this!
I came downstairs. Cotton balls waving in the air, shredded clothes hanging off my 7 year old body. I did look disturbing! I growled viciously at the family in the living room.
Mom: You look soooo scary!
Dad: It’s cold. You’re gonna need a coat.
A coat? A fucking coat? Let me tell you something Gentle Reader, if you don’t already know. But a coat to a kid on Halloween is like Kryptonite. It is more evil than anything you could ever imagine. The transformation you spent so much painstaking effort putting together is now going to be covered up in a big ol’ winter coat? No fucking way! No coat! It ain’t happenin’ Daddio.
Does the Wolfman care about high pressure zones? Does the Wolfman worry about wind chill with rain and possibility of snow? Hell fucking no! The Wolfman will rip your heart out and feast on your remains! The Wolfman will gouge your eyes out with his fangs! The Wolfman will...
Dad: Here you go buddy.
Dad is holding up a coat. A fucking winter coat. A fucking big, giant, puffy, down filled coat. And is it red? Oh yeah. It’s red. Nice. Hey, that parka really goes with the fucking red makeup that mom put on my face! Thanks for that! What the fuck? I honestly don’t know how this could get much worse.
Mom: Oh you can unzip it part of the way and they will still see how super scary your costume looks! It will be fine!
No Mom. It will not be fine. China is fine. Hair is fine. A lame-ass Wolfman costume covered up in a down filled parka is less than ideal. So no, it will not be fine. But thank you for saying so. You’re a peach.
This is going to be the worst Halloween ever.
Mom dropped me off at Kyle’s house and would be there to pick me up later in the evening. Hand to God, if Kyle’s Mom weren’t waiting there on the front porch I would have made a run for it. Howdy Texas! Hello Mexico! Anywhere but here. Do they have Tricks or Treats in Tijuana?
It’s Kyle. Inside are Kyle and his friends, waiting around. Kyle is wearing an executioners outfit..and it is stellar! Basic to be sure, but he had all of the elements in place perfectly. As a Halloween aficionado I reviewed his costume in my head like a red carpet review at the Oscars.
“Oh and Kyle is going with the oh so stylish Executioner Wear this evening. The black hood is the shining diamond of the ensemble. The black boots and black robe can only enhance the scariness of the overall look! And what is he holding? Oh, a giant rubber axe! This axe is a perfect accessory for anyone planning to behead evil-doers! Let that boy walk down the red carpet because I would have to give Kyle’s look this year five stars!”
The other kids there had passable costumes. My discerning eye evaluated them all, determining if they were indeed Halloween-ready. Did they pay attention to detail? Can the person on the street identify the costume immediately? How scary was it? None of those cartoon-ey type costumes were around so that was good. The boys seemed to be fitted reasonably well and I could see myself doing Tricks or Treats with this crew.
Kyle: Ummm...hey Eric. So ummmm..what are you supposed to be?
What was I supposed to be? Apparently my friend you have not heard of the Wolfman! I will rip you apart! I unzipped the pinkish red parka to reveal my shredded clothes! I took an aggressive stance and growled, frothed and howled like nobodies business! Grooowwwlarghhharrghhhowllll!! Hide the children! The Wolfman is here!!!
Kyle: I don’t get it.
I don’t get it.
That is the death knell of the Halloween Costume Kingdom.
I don’t get it.
When you are an adult you can come up with cute, odd costumes that are political, or maybe just a play on words. When you are a kid the last thing you want to hear is “I don’t get it.”
Eric: Wolfman baby! I’m the Wolfman! Fear me! I will terrorize your town! Break out your silver bullets if you will, but I am coming!!!
Kyle: Oh...I guess I can kind of see it.
Thanks a lot.
The executioner, his pals, and Eric ventured out into the sugar coated streets. But disheartened as I was, I was not, repeat NOT going to let this get to me. As I said before, I was going to dig deep. Deeper than any 7 year old ever has. Get ready world...’cause you’re about to experience some serious horror! We were entering into MY realm of Tricks or Treats. For everyone else, it’s amateur hour. For yours truly, it is the most sacred of sacreds. The most holiest of holies. Ladies and Gentlemen, get ready for a journey deep into the heart of Halloween!
The house was unassuming. A ranch style typical of what you might find in this small suburban community. It appeared to contain a relatively well-to-do family. The man of the house I pictured to be a captain of industry, or perhaps someone who aced his bar exam and was reaping all the financial benefits deserving of a partner in a prestigious law firm. In short, the house looked good...real good.
(I made a mental note to commend Kyle on his Halloween route. So far his neighborhood showed promise for substantial treating ahead.)
The shrubbery was well trimmed, as sharp, angled shadows splayed over the well manicured yard. A pristine stone walkway was our guide as it led us up to a threshold of antique wood. The porch light, something in a Craftsman style, beckoned us toward the deep, rich mahogany door.
The rest of the gang scampered nervously in a disorganized jumble, while the Wolfman strolled confidently across the paved stones toward the first conquest of the night!
I am King of the Night. Knowing that while Mr. Lawyer may pay the mortgage, I own this house. This is MY domain! I am, after all, the Wolfman!! Master of Tricks or Treats!
Kyle nervously pushed his index finger toward the hand crafted doorbell, a smiling ceramic moon glimmering back at him.
The chorus of Trick or Treat steamrolled the chime of the bell.
We hear rustling behind the door...Kyle and the gang gather anxiously. I look at them. Bush leaguers. I dig deep. I am ready. I know the drill.
The unassuming home-owners normally gather in the safety of their precious doorway and review all the costumes one by one.”Oooh, don’t you look scary!” or “Awww, what an adorable little princess!” But then they will see me...And when they get to MY costume I am going to bring it. Bring it all. I hope they have their tennis shoes on because they are going to fucking run, run, run, when they see...the majesty, the horror...of..the Wolfman!
But I keep it in check...all in due time my friends...all in due time....The door glides open on its well greased poly-sealed copper hinges....and this is how it goes:
Scenario: Open on The Man of the House and the Little Lady. I really can not remember what the fuck they are wearing, but it is the 70’s, so let’s just go with a Mr. Moneybags kinda guy with a velvet smoking jacket and a firm jawline that says “I can close the deal!” Oh yeah...and a pipe. I am certain there must have been a pipe involved, right? The Little Lady is wearing a conservative dress. Maybe with a robin’s egg blue apron or something?..With pearls? I am sure this is wholly inaccurate and more than a little bit sexist, but just work with me here.
The Man of The House: Ooooh what do we have here?
The Little Lady: (Holding an obscenely large bowl of delicious, high end candy) Aren’t you ADORABLE?!
Now, for the record, no. No. No. No. We are NOT fucking adorable...we are horror personified..the Dukes of Dispair....we will rob your soul of your very will to live! We will…
The Man of The House: (Holding his pipe in his hand, a la Hugh Hefner) Well honey, looks like we have a very, very scary executioner here! Hey, son, do you have a license for that axe? Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. (apparently very pleased with himself at this pathetic attempt at humor)
Little Lady: Oooh and a zombie? Aren’t you just PRECIOUS! I could eat you up!
Again...really? Eat you up? Where in the name that all is holy do these people come from?
I look around at my guys...my group. They are all schoolgirl giggles and dimples and seem to be almost giddy with the response their costumes are getting. What the fuck? Come ON gang! Bad jokes? Precious? Sure! Completely precious if you dressed like My Pretty Fucking Pony! Don’t roll over on me gang! Where is your fucking Halloween dignity?
And after they finished with they guys, when they handed out the last bit of candy to Kyle standing next to me, their gaze shifted to me and my costume.
They saw me...and I knew...it was go time.
The culmination of weeks and weeks of planning. Sure a few things went a bit sideways. But now...Now? Now it was show time.
Their eyes looked over and our gazes locked. I had them. I knew I fucking had them. And I brought it. I brought it all!
I didn’t break their stare. The big puffy red coat was a bit constraining, but I threw my red coat covered arms into the air!
I rolled my head around uncontrollably on my shoulders!!
I even mustered up a little spittle drooling out of my mouth.
I was screaming now! A madman on the front porch! Oh people! Beware of my wrath!!! Beware of the unholy...the amazingly powerful...the incredibly scary...WOLFMAN!!!!!!!
But the beautiful young woman and her lawyer husband didn’t bat an eye. They simply stared. I thought I was the scariest thing in town. I thought I was bringing on the horror show. I thought I was showing them what scariness and Tricks or Treats were all about.
And they simply stared.
They stared at this young boy.
They stared at this young boy in the huge, puffy red parka that was less suitable for Michigan and more suitable for the North Pole.
His cheeks red with makeup.
His chin covered with puffy white cotton balls.
And he was drooling.
And when the growling stopped...and I stopped to catch my breath...and I stopped to wipe the drool off my chin. The Little Lady finally spoke. Her voice was soft. Her voice was gentle. I must have scared her. The Wolfman must have shaken this one to her freakin core!
And the Little Lady said, “Why is little Santa so ANGRY?”
That’s what I got.
Think about it.
That’s what I got.
After weeks and weeks of planning. After working on being the scariest beast ever. EVER! That is what I got.
I looked down at myself. And she was right. Fuck.
She was right.
I was fucking Santa Claus.
I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t see it before. I was blinded by the mayhem. By the beast within. But here I was. On All Hallow’s Eve.
And I was fucking Santa Claus.
I shamefully took the candy and slinked off into the night.
The giggling from my cohorts was not, I repeat NOT encouraging. After all my planning..all my work...on the holiest of holy nights. I was Santa Claus. It was easily the most humbling and humiliating day of my short life.
The rest of the night played out exactly as you would expect. The growling got quieter, and the manic flailing les and less as each new door brought on the same response. “Ooooh! Baby Santa! But why is he so upset?”
Each new door brought new embarrassment. As the crew I ran with all were giggling and stupid, at least their fucking costumes looked exactly like they should. My costume simply brought confusion and a pitiful dip into the candy bowl. All hope was lost.
As the years progressed and I got older, I chose costumes that were obvious. That had no chance of being confused with say, the Easter Bunny. I am still all about the horror show. And Halloween is still my favorite holiday of the year. I continue to bring it. Bring on the scary. But I will always remember that night. Right? I mean how can you not? But with everything that went wrong, Halloween will always hold a place in my black, spooky heart. And I hope you too recognize the true meaning of the season!