One of the greatest joys upon returning home from my Kuwait deployment was arriving just in time for Halloween. I could finally go trick-or-treating.
I needed a costume and a large bucket for all the free candy. But there were a few problems. Firstly, I didn’t have a costume. Then came the sad realization that junk food is bad. I had one cavity in my life and don’t want to go through that again. All that drilling and filling at the dentist was no fun. Most importantly, I’m an adult.
Some might consider it inappropriate, strange, or pathetic for a grown man to go door-to-door on Halloween night for candy. I might even get shot. Suspicion would further arise once I drove to different neighborhoods with hopes of doubling the score.
They’d accuse me of encroaching on a children’s holiday, invading their space, or stuck in permanent adolescence. My retro video game collection comes to mind. Months before one of my earlier Middle East deployments, I sold most of my old games because it was time to let go of the past.
My collection of games for the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Xbox, etc. were up for grabs. But I just ended up building a new collection some years later. It’s in my nature as an enthusiast, curator, and historian. That’s the ticket.
Night of the Creeps
One of my last Halloween outings took place during the middle school years. My childhood friend Ryan and I neared the trick-or-treat pre-teen cutoff age with work to do. We knew our neighborhood well and all the best houses to go to. Not much thought went into our costumes. Candy was the ultimate objective.
I donned a Friday the 13th hockey mask I had purchased at Halloween Horror Nights, tattered blue jeans, and a red flannel shirt. Purists might question if Jason Voorhees ever wore a flannel shirt in any of the films (he didn’t), but I stood by the wardrobe choice.
Perhaps I was paying homage to both Jason and his arch-rival Freddy Krueger. Freddy didn’t wear a flannel, but his iconic red-and-green-striped sweater is similar in spirit, so who cares? I can’t remember what costume Ryan or my younger brother wore, but it was probably as haphazard as mine.
We ventured out with pillowcases in hand. Our trek began at dusk and carried late into the evening. We hit house after house for miles, circling the entire neighborhood and beyond.
We looked for decorated yards, porch lights, and signs of life within each home. Along the way, we encountered one of those candy buckets with a “Take One, please” sign outside the door. I took three.
With little resistance from adults, we ended the evening tired, our feet sore, and our pillowcases filled with sweet goodness. Nowadays, kids and their parents seem more in tune with the inherent dangers of our world. We were always told to check our candy for razor blades or syringes, but it’s different today.
I don’t see anyone trick-or-treating at night. I haven’t had a single visitor for the three years I’ve lived in this neighborhood, but I continue to buy candy every Halloween.
Last House on the Left
I hope to take my own children trick-or-treating one day. In the meantime, I’ll wait for that one Halloween visitor to come to my door. They’d undoubtedly get most or all the candy I have.
Encountering some weirdo in their forties longing for trick-or-treaters would have been a dream for me, Ryan, and my younger brother back then. It would have saved us a lot of time.
And Ryan would have never been bitten by that werewolf, a curse he still carries today.