My name is metrofudge and I am 27 years recovered from being the child of a former Jehovah’s Witness. There. I said it. That felt good. What didn’t feel good was missing out on everything fun that every friend of mine did growing up. Right off the bat you’d probably think Christmas but you’d be wrong.
The fact I had relatives that ignored the religious hamperings of my parent meant there were plenty of presents and ham dinners next to a stupid tree. The thing with Christmas, Thanksgiving or even that pastel nightmare they call Easter is that all of them revolve around family. These gatherings are technically unavoidable to even the strictest religious zealot if they have family who fall under the category of “nonbelievers”, which lucky for me, 98% of my family was. So, Christmas & birthdays? Yes, I opened many gifts from my aunt and ate many cakes baked by my meema. Got to watch Madden & Summeral call games while drinking egg nog & tinkering with my G.I. Joe Shrinky Dinks. Ate turkey with all the fixin’s and can remember one or two egg dying occasions. The real killer for me during ages 7-14 was being deprived of donning a No Name Transformer, Heathcliff or even a Mr. T mask, walk around town with my buds ringing bells, collecting mini Mars bars & whipping Now & Laters at passing buses. (Ok, that I did do) Under the circumstances, Halloween was the only event that truly gave me the feeling of being left out. It’s not about family assembling together to eat animals, unwrap earmuffs or look for poorly hidden eggs that smelt of vinegar in your cousin’s backyard…Halloween is about you. Your fears, your creativity, your candy, your friends and your Mischief Night (See also Goosey or Cabbage Night). Oh, and sincerest apologies to those of you born after 1995, but it was all done without adult supervision. Yeah, mom would check for razor blades in your Whatchamacallit when you got home, but for the most part, you were at stranger’s doorsteps late into the night with nothing close to resembling a phone on your person. Sometimes alone. Shit, that sounds so much scarier now. Actually, it was pretty scary then too.
The first and only time I snuck out with friends to locally trick or treat, I had an experience that I’ll always remember. Now I can’t say it was much of a costume I threw together, as this daring sacrilege was a spontaneous occurrence, but if I remember correctly I believe I just grabbed a bandana and either put it over my face bandit style or on my head like a member of the band Poison. The regret and/or fear of what would’ve, could’ve, maybe should’ve happened ate at me for through the early years of puberty. A puberty, by the way, heightened by all those horrible sex charged 80’s movies. I grew up in a town in northern New Jersey that was a fifteen minute drive to both the GWB and the Lincoln Tunnel with the NYC skyline within view. So even though it is probably deemed a suburb, it was dense enough and busy enough to be considered a small city. This actually made for an ideal trick or treating atmosphere, as there were tons of residential one or two family homes and a nice blend of commuter filled apartment buildings. The following occurred in one such building directly across the street from my house. A young (older to me then) attractive woman answered her door scantily clad and in her most seductive voice and supported by suggestive body language, haunted me with the line “No treats, but the tricks are inside.” I was expecting a box of Lemonheads or a Bleep-Blip for crying out loud! Needless to say, a silent alarm went off and l ended up backing away in slo-mo and booking down the stairs only to never see her again. The way I look at it, either I would’ve became a man at the ripe old age of 12, or, I’m not here to write this today. Point is, it was creepy, scary, exhilarating and is now a fond memory of my rebellion against restriction that is owed all in the name of Halloween.
By the time I was independent of my parent’s religious path, I sadly felt I had outgrown the customs of Halloween. However, it didn’t completely stop me from trying. The first time I donned an actual Halloween costume was years later at age 19. I allowed my then girlfriend to doll me up as “The Crow” in order to attend a friend’s party. As excited as I originally was to garner the attention of her hard work on the way to this costume only event, once there, I couldn’t wait to rid myself of the getup. I felt stupid. After washing my face in the bathroom and getting into a heated argument with her, I capped off the night by falling asleep next to my inebriated friend who went as an impressive Uncle Fester. Not a glowing impression of Halloween and most likely tainted by the absence of it throughout childhood …yet still, I love the memory.
Between then and now, there are few Halloween themed moments in my life that are worth reflecting on and that bothers me. The one thing that does get me excited this time of year other than marathons of the classics or window shopping Target displays of decorations & 10 lb bags of themed candy will sound ever bit textbook cornball, but I don’t care. It’s watching my daughter go out and enjoy what I never did. Living vicariously through her experience of cruising the ‘hood with a plastic Jack o lantern filled up with , wait…what the hell are they passing off as treats now, UTZ pretzels?! Wow. Terrible. So there’s that…, and there’s also wearing my “Wacko Jacko” mask while doling out Nerds & scaring the living shit out of children, in turn creeping out the stroller pushing parents, that unfortunately nowadays must chaperone their monsters. Halloween is fun. It was more fun then, but it still gives it a go and I’m sorry I kinda sorta missed it. I’ll try to make up for it as much as possible by watching non-stop Horror films for the next month and devouring all my kid’s non peanut free riddled chocolate she brings home. Happy Halloween.