I’m not real good with the scary stuff.
You’ll never find bloody skeletons or the like gracing the front of my house in late October. I never really liked telling ghost stories around campfires. To this day, I’ve never watched a horror movie.
My son couldn’t be any more similar, temperament and personality wise, if he’d been cloned from me. We’re both bookish, sarcastic, rather prickly. Turns out, though, we’re not a 100% match. Because he likes his gore.
We went to a Halloween superstore this weekend, to find costumes. And greeting us at the front door was a massive display of decorations, both static and moving. And the boy, who I thought was just like me, the boy who jumps at any unexpected sound, the boy who I thought was scared of everything, could have spent all damn day, pushing buttons that made displays like this:
pop up and scream. He was delighted. Enthralled, really. He bounced from section to section, holding up severed limbs, laughing at serial killer clown masks. “Mom! You have GOT to come see this! The zombie’s head does a 360, then he PUKES at you! Can we get it?”
And as I was trying to process exactly who in the hell my son had suddenly become, I noticed people giggling at me. More specifically, at my leg.
Where my little girl, who is normally without fear, was clinging, covering her own eyes, too terrified to even tell me she was scared.
Would this shape her, make her into “me” as she got older? What was it that scared me so badly, that I could never enjoy Halloween, and all things creepy, the way my son seems to?
If I had to blame something, I’d blame it on the potluck.
The annual Halloween potluck. I grew up in an area so sparsely populated that the nearest “neighbor” was over 2 miles away. So to hit even 4 or 5 houses would have taken an hour, at least. The community, instead, threw a Halloween Party in the community hall. We’d dress up, have a potluck supper, then at the end, we’d line up, and the adults would come to us to give out candy, instead of the other way around. (Although we’d always be secretly jealous of the “town kids” who got way more candy, we tried to act like our system made us superior. They never bought it, though.)
I couldn’t tell you what I dressed up as the year I was 5. I couldn’t tell you anything about the games we played, or the candy I got, or who the hell handed out sunflower seeds (which are a COMPLETE cop-out, by the way). But what I can tell you is what happened at the end of the party.
The crowd starts to part, people move to the sides of the hall, and in walk two men. One of them is there merely as a guide, making sure his friend doesn’t bump into anyone. The friend he’s guiding – is decapitated. Huge black boots on his feet, big, swirling black cape, and blood, all over the hole where his head should be.
I ran. Maybe I screamed. I don’t know. But I remember willing my suddenly jellied-legs to get the flying fuck out of there. The sides of the hall were lined with built-in benches, and I remember jumping up on to one, but then wanting to scramble right up the wall, as if it were possible or would help. And right beside me was my friend Anita.
The thing was, we both knew that the headless guy was Anita’s dad. We knew those boots. And it was what the adults who were trying to peel us off the walls were telling us. But I really didn’t give a tiny rat’s ass, right then, and was trying to claw my way up a wall, thanks very much. Just when we thought it was safe to maybe come down, they did another pass through the hall, since their “act” had obviously been so riotously popular. I lost it. The only thing I remember after that was being forcibly carried out to the car, covering my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see “it” again.
It didn’t matter how logical I was, even as a 5 year old. Didn’t matter that the blood was so obviously fake, and that everyone else around me (except Anita) seemed to get the joke. I was full of panic, and I always would be at anything remotely macabre.
So, baby girl, I really, really hope our visit to the store isn’t the thing that wrecks Halloween for you. Because the kids who like it, seem to really like it a lot. But if it is wrecked for you? You’ll always have me for company.
(Image from here.)