Halloween was always a thrill when I was a kid. I was always moving, so there were always new houses to visit and unique attractions to see. I loved dressing up as something new each year, and was always trying to outdo the year before. Then came seventh grade, and Halloween lost its appeal. I was big into horror movies, so dressing up and asking for candy seemed both immature and childish. So, that year, my little brother went out alone, and I stayed home to marathon some horror films- my new Halloween tradition.
From 8th-10th grade, I spent every Halloween parked in front of the TV watching scary movies. I had no desire to dress up, go out, or participate in anything Halloween related. I was happy with my VHS tapes. But something happened during the summer between my sophomore and junior year that changed all that; I finally got a hold of a dark blue jumpsuit. How I got the blue jumpsuit was a bit of a horror story in itself.
My grandmother had adopted my step-mom’s dog once she and my father married. Rewis was a very old cocker spaniel who loved playing outdoors. My grandma lives way out in the country, so it was an ideal place for him to live out his last few years. Rewis really took advantage of the North Carolina countryside. It wasn’t unusual for him to be gone a day or two at a time, but he always returned home with his tail wagging.
One day, I noticed a nasty odor inside the house. My grandmother lives in a very old, very small concrete house that had a lot of clutter. It wasn’t unusual to see a mouse here or there, and even sometimes a snake. I checked all of the traps to see if we had caught something that was creating this odor, but I found nothing. I assumed that a mouse must have died in the walls or was buried behind some old, dusty, crap from the 1960’s.
It took three days, several cans of Glade, half a dozen candles, before I realized we hadn’t seen Rewis since the smell began.
I went outside and pulled the crawlspace door off and out rolled a smell of death and decay like no other I had ever smelt before or have ever smelt again. The hot North Carolina summer had taken a normal nasty situation and made it way worse. I could see the outline of his body lying on its side half way across the house.
It was dirty and nasty, and my grandmother didn’t want me to ruin my clothes. The year before, a worker who had jacked up her floor, had left an old blue jumpsuit on her porch. I zipped it up and glanced down, I realized I looked just like Michael Myers.
Without going into too many details, getting Rewis out was a huge undertaking that involved a lot of crawling on my stomach, maggots, a caved in side, and a hoe. I know it’s Halloween time, but let’s move back to the holiday discussion.
When I was fourteen, I purchased a Michael Myers mask. I had an old Styrofoam head that sat on my bookshelf that I had decorated to look like professional wrestler, Al Snow’s, head. I decided to sacrifice my immature Styrofoam head to instead display my wonderful Michael Myers mask. That way, each night, Michael Myers could watch over me as I slept.
It occurred to me as my last Halloween approached that I was now in possession of the two things needed to pull off a great Michael Myers outfit. I had a good mask and a perfect jumpsuit. There was also a sign in my front yard that said Myers’ House so that just made things even better.
My best friend Anthony decided to accompany me on my evening of walking around and looking terrifying. I had no interest in collecting candy, especially since carrying a bag around would ruin my awesome costume, not to mention, I was too old for that. My goal was just to walk the streets of our neighborhood, slowly and methodically, like Michael Myers does.
Anthony decided to ruin that. He had no interest in dressing up as anything, so he walked around as himself. And by himself I mean he was very loud, overly active, and incredibly annoying. My mysterious night of fear was now downgraded to one bad *ss Michael Myers and his annoying high school sidekick.
We had a great time still. We walked around, chatted and attempted to scare some of our neighbors, and Anthony even decided to try and score some candy. One older gentleman, that neither of us knew thought it would be hilarious to mess with Anthony. He refused to give him any candy, and insisted on him doing a trick. We stood out in this man’s driveway as he put Anthony through the ringer. Every trick, joke, or impression that Anthony tried wasn’t good enough. I’ve never seen a man work so hard for a fun size bag of M&Ms. It took almost twenty minutes, but he finally did enough to impress the man. I actually think the man was just rewarding Anthony for making him laugh so much over that twenty minutes of torture.
The second house Anthony approached was the house of a girl who rode our school bus. She opened the door, chastised him for not wearing a costume, then proceeded to beam him with several pieces of taffy. I just stood at the end of the drive in my Michael Myers get up trying not to fall down laughing.
That wasn’t to say that I didn’t do something stupid that night. One of our neighbors called me over to introduce me to my new next door neighbors. His cousin had bought the house next to ours and was going to move in the following month. I walked over, introduced myself and met his cousin and his wife. They were very friendly, excited to be moving into our neighborhood, and seemed to be having a good time. By this point, I had been in my Michael Myers costume for about an hour, and I had really forgotten that I was even wearing it. So, when I decided to walk over and wave hi to their infant sitting in the stroller, I wasn’t prepared for the screaming that was about to occur. It took less than a second for that baby to change from happy and content, into utterly terrified and in need of rescuing. That got the attention of his three year old brother, who came running over and stopped dead in his tracks once he saw me. I also watched his face change in slow motion from happy to “Oh my gawd, I’m going to die.”
I instantly felt terrible for my mistake, so I reached for the back of the mask to show the kids that I’m not a monster. It’s one thing to try and emotionally scar your own siblings, it’s another thing to do that to innocent strangers. Of course, my face was extremely sweaty by this point. It was a humid Memphis night, and the jump suit and latex mask hadn’t helped anything. I pulled and pulled trying to yank the mask off, but it had pretty much sealed to my face. Meanwhile, I can hear all the screaming from one side and the footsteps of adults coming from the other side. For the only time that night, I became scared.
I remind you, I didn’t know these people. I had met them just minutes before. I knew things looked bad, here I was a high schooler, running around scaring their children. I finally wrestled the mask off, smearing the black paint surrounding my eyes all over my face and into my mouth in the process, but I was finally looking somewhat like a normal person.
I was afraid to look up. I wasn’t really sure what face I was going to see on these new neighbors. I don’t think I’ve ever felt relief like I did when I saw them all smiling and smirking. I guess I looked pretty silly being stuck in my mask, and even sillier with black eye paint smeared across my lips. I apologized like crazy, but there was no need to. They knew what happened, found it funny, and were already reassuring their children that all was okay. I was able to bribe the three year old with some of the candy Anthony had acquired, and managed to make everything right in the world.
Of course, Anthony being Anthony, he had actually fell down on the ground laughing while I was struggling with the mask. We decided we had experienced enough fun for one evening, and headed back to my house to watch Halloween. Anthony had never seen it, and even though we watched the entire flick, I’d say he still hasn’t ever seen it. He spent the entire ninety minutes still laughing at me and the goofy dance I did trying to get my sweaty Michael Myers mask off.
That was my final Halloween. I’m not really a party guy, so I’ve never been in a situation to dress up and I don’t have any kids to take trick or treating. I’m actually okay with that being my final Halloween. It was a fun night that I got to spend with my best friend, and it provided us with jokes to make about each other for the rest of our lives. You can’t really ask for anything more than that.