Sunday, October 23, 2016

Nurse the Hate: The Halloween Pitchfork Incident

When I was six years old I went out for Halloween as The Devil.  I generally entered into Halloween with the idea that my costume would be much like those I saw in TV shows where The Brady Bunch or other TV family would go to a party in totally incredible outfits.  It never occurred to me that the reason they looked so scary in their skeleton or devil costumes were that a Hollywood make up and wardrobe team were throwing their complete attention into it.  I, on the other hand, had a five-dollar budget and whatever the discount store had in stock.  As a six year old I was convinced that the rubber mask and polyester cape I had purchased would enable me to look exactly like Lucifer himself.  I would strike fear into all those that gazed upon me.  The key was a two-foot long plastic pitchfork.  It was the piece de resistance.  I believed I was somewhat convincing in the role.  Instead I looked like an undersized six-year-old kid in an adult sized head mask.  A fixed expression, smiling, melon head, midget Lucifer just doesn’t pack the terror punch that I had anticipated, but I tried to live as optimistically as I could within this distorted reality.

My six-year-old friends were Christopher, Michael, and Billy.  I don’t know why it wasn’t “Chris”, “Mike” and Billy as it sounds like I was running around with a bunch of six-year-old interior decorators, but those were their names, OK?  Christopher wasn’t allowed to go trick or treat as his overprotective mother was completely convinced that he would get maimed on a doctored treat given out by some madman.  For whatever reason, the urban myth of kids having their mouths ripped open by razor blades inserted into apples was a known fact.  Though none of us could specifically name a kid that had that fate visit them, we all knew that the risk of having your tongue sliced off by an apple was about 50/50.  Christopher’s mother feared her son dying from a cold in 60-degree weather, so you can imagine the idea of him running around with jackoffs like us was completely out of the question.  Christopher would spend Halloween inside his plastic bubble.

Michael’s family was made up of 14 kids and two very tired looking parents.  His mother was nice and his father appeared only occasionally to administer quick fierce beatings to any child that broke a rule.  He then quickly went back into the shadows of his workshop where he would emerge only to inflict quick justice at the urging of the mother.  Michael was one of the younger kids, so by the time he rolled around to age six the parents had almost no real interest in what he was involved in.  They had given up.  As a result he was always a “hobo” or “pirate” on Halloween as the parents would never go buy costumes but urge him to do something with the mountains of hand-me-downs in the attic.  Michael’s costume, as a result, always sucked.

Billy, on the other hand, had a very artsy craftsy mother.  He would show up for Halloween and win all school costume contests without breaking a sweat as his mother was essentially the equal to a Hollywood big budget movie special effects department.  The year I was a half assed devil he was a knight in shining armor.  It was totally homemade and looked completely real.  His mother had custom made an outfit with painted family crest on his chest and feather protruding from the back of a helmet with adjustable face guard.  I have seen museum pieces for child princes that looked less convincing. I'm surprised she didn't rent him a stallion.

I felt pretty inferior next to Billy, but looking at Michael’s piece of shit hobo outfit I was able to feel like I was at least sort of scary.  I felt like we were a pretty intimidating crew swaggering around, though in retrospect three six year olds dressed as a midget devil, suit of armor and a drifter doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of men.  Yet being six years old, you don’t have a chance to feel like you have any power, so even the illusion of being something other than six is pretty great.  This was setting up to be one of the greatest nights in my six-year-old life.  The future was ours.

A quick note…  When I was a kid it was not unusual for three six year old kids in vision clouding costumes to walk around a neighborhood on Halloween by themselves at night.  On a normal day we would wake up in the morning, shovel cereal down our throats as quickly as possible to get outside exploring our world while constantly pushing the boundaries.  Things have changed in America.  In my neighborhood currently there are kids that might not have ever left their yards except on parent supervised group activities.  I never see kids running around making up their own fun.  Parents now believe that their children are always seconds away from being featured on cable news because they were abducted/eaten by an alligator.  When I was a kid we were like a pack of feral dogs.  No one had any idea of what we were doing or frankly cared.  It was a Golden Age.

So there we were, swaggering around getting candy and being generally badass.  I felt somewhat convinced I had frightened adults that had answered their doors to reveal a four foot tall vision of Lucifer in a polyester cape and Keds.  I stood menacingly with my two-foot plastic pitchfork, a true vision of eternal torment.  We had been out forever getting candy, which in retrospect must have been 35 minutes.  We knew we needed to maximize our candy haul in the remaining time.  This was when we made an ill-fated choice.  We decided to take a shortcut through the woods to get to the adjoining neighborhood.  Our thinking was that they would have better and more candy since this was an exotic location a block away.  This would have been my first foray into “the grass being greener” concept.

As I was walking in the ink black woods in an adult sized mask, I couldn’t see shit.  I think I looked through the nostril holes of the mask since my head was too small.  We formed a line down the path.  I was second in line behind Billy, he being the most familiar with this “short cut”.  Had I been more familiar with it I would have known about the small hill we had to traverse and wouldn’t have slipped and fallen.  I somersaulted down the treeline, banging off trees while clutching my pillowcase of candy with a death grip.  When I stopped rolling finally my mask had shifted around completely and acted like a hostage hood.  I took a quick inventory and figured I would have a couple bruises and bruised ego from Billy and Michael laughing at me.  Then it hit me…  My pitchfork!  Where was my pitchfork?  I panicked.  It was at that point one of my prized possessions and the key to my amazing costume!

I searched and searched in the darkness to no avail.  Billy and Michael kept moving.  “Come on!  Come on!”  Those bastards left me and kept going down the trail.  I heard their voices and footsteps get further away.  Now I had lost my friends.  My heart and mind raced.  I made the difficult choice and left my pitchfork behind and ran to try to catch them.  When I emerged from the woods I couldn’t see them anywhere.  They had been swallowed up by the chaos of kids trick or treating.  I was freaking out.  I lost it and began to cry inside my smiling Lucifer mask.

There can’t be anything more pathetic than a six year old sniffling inside a devil mask carrying a pillowcase of “fun sized” candy bars walking home alone in disgrace.  It was a long journey back.  My crying came in waves.  I had trouble seeing through the tears and mask eyeholes.  I was embarrassed I had lost my composure but as I struggled to get control back I would think of my precious plastic pitchfork lost forever in the woods and my complete abandonment by the alleged noble Knight and his hobo pal.  That would start the sniffling all over again.  It was a long lonely walk home. 

When I got home crying my parents wanted to know what was wrong.  “Did you slice your mouth open with a razor blade?  Check his mouth!” No…  No… I… I… I lost my pitchfork!  “You lost your pitchfork?  Is that all?  Don’t worry about it.”  There was a lack of empathy there that is somewhat understandable as that pitchfork was probably $1.29 and not very convincing.  Yet, it was a big deal to me.  My parents took my candy and inspected it, as we all knew that there was a 50/50 shot the candy was festooned with razor blades, amphetamines, and syringes.  I went up to my room in shame.

I woke up early the next morning and quickly scarfed down my cereal.  I ran out the door as quickly as possible to the woods to look for my pitchfork.  The leaves were wet with dew.  The smell of autumn decay had replaced the summer sweetness in the woods.  The hill I had fallen down seemed absurdly small compared to the perceived monumental tumble of the previous night.  I rooted around the general area.  There was no pitchfork.  It was gone.  I walked slowly home.  When I started up my driveway I saw Michael.  He was holding the pitchfork.  “Hey!  I found your pitchfork last night! Where did you go?”  Yes!  It was back!  I played it cool and intimated I went solo trick or treating for quite some time after they had probably gone to bed.  Lone wolf, that was me.  I certainly wasn’t crying like an infant.  I was doing TONS of cool shit without you two.  By the way, where did you guys go?

I took my pitchfork to the safest place I knew, the closet in my room.  It would make only one more appearance two years later in a poorly conceptualized demon outfit.  By this time I had grown which made the tiny pitchfork look like a small trident or oversized grilling tool.  After that Halloween debacle I placed it in the back of my closet where it remained until I packed for college and threw it and most of my childhood away.  Even then I felt a tinge of sadness tossing it.    


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