Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate Halloween

The second best Halloween I ever had was when I was 12 years old and went out dressed as the Grim Reaper.  My mother, who had the homemaking skills of a construction worker, somehow managed to stitch together a long black robe with a hood that was meant to accent the scary rubber skull mask I had chosen at Spencer’s after a long and painful deliberation.  I was as terrifying as a five foot kid in a disproportionately large skull mask could be.  It was with great confidence that I strode out to the front lawn to meet my friends.

Time is different when you are twelve.  The wait from the beginning of dusk until actual darkness seemed like two weeks.  My friends and I were all jacked up, over stimulated by the costumes sure, but more because of the great potential of Halloween that laid in front of us like a banquet.  Anything could happen.  We goofed around as we watched bewildered toddlers unsteadily walk up front steps, nervously peering back at their parents.  It must be odd to be a three year old, doing three year old things and minding your own business.  Suddenly, out of the blue, you are shoved into a pirate outfit and then marched around the neighborhood to ask strangers for candy.  Why today?  Does this mean you can ring doorbells on any day and demand food from the giants that live inside?  Walking is tough enough, much less in some movement restricting costume.  Then add into the mix being forced to carry a plastic pumpkin filled with mini Three Musketeers.  You can see the confusion on their faces.

Slowly and painfully night came down on our suburban world.  Why did that hour take a decade but the decade of my thirties take 28 minutes?  When you are 12, the goal is to get as much candy as possible, but also settle a few neighborhood scores.  You can engage in behavior on Halloween night that most fathers will laugh off.  You toss an egg at some kid on July 7th, you might get an asskicking back home.  On Halloween, you are just “a little rascal”.  My friends and I had a bit of a turf war with some kids in the neighborhood that bordered ours.  This was a time of movies like “Warriors”, “The Outsiders”, and all those 50s greaser knock offs.  We were all under the impression we were in some sort of gang, though in retrospect it would have been a gang primarily identified for mouthy sarcasm and decent grades in school.  I don’t remember any of us actually being involved in any violence or crime of any kind, with the exception of what would become a troubling history of mailbox destruction.

Being one of the eldest kids out on Trick Or Treat is about as close as a boy will be to “having the world by the balls” until he is a senior in high school.  Even then, there is no guarantee you’ll be at the cool lunch table.  It’s maybe one of your last times you can feel totally confident and in charge of your world.  Those kids over there?  Pfff.  Ten year olds.  Look at those pussies.  Still out with a parental chaperon.  Look at us.  Men in charge of our own agendas and destiny. 

It was late.  Really late.  We were one of the last groups of kids out.  It was probably all of nine o’clock, but it seemed late.  From around the bend we heard the approach of our arch nemesis and his crew.  We had carefully carried a dozen eggs with us all night, praying we would have this opportunity.  We hurriedly slunk off into the shadows of the nearby trees, armed ourselves and waited for what would be probably the best ambush of our young lives. 

I would like to point out that whenever you have this type of opportunity, there is always one kid that throws his egg too early.  That kid later becomes the guy that gets his whole squad killed in the jungle when he freaks out and starts shooting at the enemy before they reach the kill zone.  Robert was our guy that threw too early.  The egg landed way left of the targeted kids, and the noise caused them to stop.  That’s when everyone panicked and threw their eggs, all of them landing ridiculously off target.  Our arch nemesis immediately started up with the mocking yells and catcalls.  It was then that what may have been my greatest athletic achievement occurred.

I had held one egg back, and let it go with everything I had.  I don’t exactly have a cannon on my arm, but having spent most of all available free time playing backyard sports, I did have experience.  I think because it was so dark, none of them could see it coming.  I had thrown it above the weak driveway light coverage, so when it struck the boy in the middle of the forehead, he must have been stunned.  I will remember the sound of the impact for the rest of my life.  It was so satisfying.

We whooped in triumph and did what any self respecting 12 year old would do after landing a kill shot.  We ran home.  That Halloween was hard to beat.



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