It struck me during a 6-mile run this morning in increasing rain that today is indeed Halloween. I can recall many a fall evening on October 30 being excited about the next day’s promise. Often a conference cross country meet in high school or college was held the last week in October. That meant not staying out too late or wearing out one’s legs being a juvenile delinquent in the darkness of night.
Of course I also saw the birth of my son one early October 30th back in 1986, so the time of year we celebrate Halloween has always been special to me in some way.
As I write this, my dog is over slobbering up the remains from a yogurt cup he dug out of the recycling bag. He’s a scavenger by practice, and I can’t leave anything out where he can get it. A couple years back he found a bar of dark chocolate I’d accidentally left on some shelf. The effects of eating that gave him the shakes so bad it required a trip to the veterinarian. They pumped his stomach and found the bright green remains of an eraser as well. That was the trick after his treat I suppose. At least for me it was.
The rest of the dogs at the vet were there because they’d eaten their owner’s panties. So my dog was the least embarrassing of all the animals in “the joint.”
Such is life with animals of any sort. It’s almost always “trick or treat.” We don’t need to wait around all year for a special night. There is always time for barf on the carpet, poop or pee on the floor and hairballs waiting by the door. Trick or treat!
But I do have some fun memories from Halloween.
- Winning is always a treat. There were several team conference cross country championships won over the years on Halloween or abouts. And I won some road races that weekend too. Of course one of the prizes I won turned out to be more of a trick than a treat. The winner was given a Marathon Santa Christmas Ornament. Talk about a confusing treat.
- Carrying kids and pounds of candy too. As a young parent, it was a joy to take my children trick or treating. Their cute costumes and eager faces made it fun, as it was to say hello to neighbors. But sooner or later the adventure turned into a slog. The kids would tire and legs would give out. I recall one long October night with cold winds and spitting rain. My daughter got tired and her cheeks were pink. My legs were exhausted from a hard 10-mile run that morning. The walk back home was one of the longest miles ever experienced, with a heavy bag of candy and a daughter heaped like a sack of potatoes in one arm. My eternally patient son trudged along in his spider costume looking like he’d emerged from a prisoner of war camp. But we made it home.
- Being scared of big kids was part of the real “joy” of Halloween. As a grade-schooler, dressing up for Halloween was fun. But the real fear was running into a group of older kids when it was just you and a buddy trudging along through the dark. It taught me that the darkness of the soul was not to be feared from spirits, but from real human beings who might very likely steal your candy.
- Eating too much candy is impossible. Despite all kind of lectures that eating too much candy would make me sick, it never really happened. I’d get sick of eating far before I ate too much for my stomach. It’s one of nature’s laws that parents forget too soon. Oh, I’m sure some kid has barfed from too much candy, but not any kid that turned out to be a runner, a cyclist or any other endurance athlete. We learn our limits by testing our limits.
- Apples suck. When you’re trick or treating, you want junk like chocolate, Smarties and caramel that sucks the teeth out of your head. You do not want apples. Yet people used to throw those in our bags now and then, and as kids we politely ignored this ugly transgression, especially because the kind of apples these people gave out were typically not hard and crisp. They were always soft and squishy and unfit for human consumption.
- Your sibling always somehow got better candy than you. Even if you went to the same doors at the same houses and said Trick or Treat in the same way, somehow when you got back home, your brother or sister always had more cool candy than you. It’s one of the laws of the Halloween Universe.
- Costumes seldom work out the way they are planned. Except maybe once in a lifetime…Most often the mask on your face carved a slice into the skin of your nose or your silky Superman pants were half falling down the entire night. Yet one year I crafted a Vampire outfit and makeup using some white powdered baking soda caked on with my mother’s cold cream. It was a truly scary look that I concocted for the elementary school band Halloween Party. Not even the teachers knew who I was, and I kept it that way. Then I won the Best Costume award and still would not tell anyone who I was. This angered some people, but I was resolute. I slipped off when it was time to leave and went home triumphant that night in my warped little world. It was delicious.
- The slutty Halloween Costume is a post-2K invention. Somewhere along the way, women of a certain age, or any age for that matter, decided that dressing up for Halloween was a good chance to show off their slutty side with a good excuse. Where was this tradition when I was a younger man? Well, apparently something in the social code after Y2K set off a post-millennial time bomb that turned a percentage of the female population into naughty vampiresses, push-up zombies and bloody nurses wearing garters. Every guy that loves such costumes sees Halloween as a blessed holiday, and that drives the ghoulishly uptight conservative right even farther into the hell of their imagination of what Halloween is about. Serves them right.
- Trick or Treating before dark is bogus. Well, it’s 4:15 p.m. as I write this. Soon the parents will come dragging their preschoolers around the neighborhood if the rain has not scared them off. Yes, it’s much safer than having them get run over by zombies driving Chevy Suburbans after dark, but you know, that can happen any other day of the week.
- That Halloween Candy won’t go away on its own. You’ll have to eat it if no kids come to your house tonight. That means your vow going into the winter season to keep off extra weight will be four pounds behind by Thanksgiving. So get up and run or hit the computrainer bright and early tomorrow. Then grap four of those small Snickers bars as a reward. You’ve earned it. Somehow.