I had a huge affection for monsters as a kid. From Dr. Frankenstein’s befuddled electro-charged jarhead to that ultimate rejected pound puppy, the Wolfman. So once I got old enough to say no to Mom’s “you would look adorable in this!” suggestions, I chose every time to be a monster. (⇐ Note 3rd grade class photo with “improvements” by me).
But a crisis occurred when I hit 13. I very desperately wanted to be hideous, but prevailing teenage culture decreed that trick-or-treating was “for kids.” Yet I wasn’t enough of a teenager to be invited to any actual teenage parties. So where and how could I be monstrous? It wasn’t the candy I wanted, it was the costume. I longed to recoil in horror at my own hideous countenance in the mirror!
Buddy Rory and I finally came up with a solution: We would distribute candy. As monsters! Here’s how it played out: We placed a folding table in the entrance to the family garage, leaving a shadowy grotto in the background full of instruments of terror (brooms, shovels, Christmas lights), and then festooned the room with kite-string cobwebs. I hung an elbowed section of duct pipe from the rafters and backlit it with a red bulb. The piece de resistance was a large pitchfork hung precariously over the entire scene. Et voila! The creepiest candy distribution center ever!
Rory sat at the table, oozing Miracle Whip from eyebrow-pencil wounds. I loomed, twisted and hideous, in the rafters. As assorted Tinkerbells and Daniel Boones approached, Rory would greet them with a black-toothed grin, and then pound the table. From above I would groan an Igorly, “Yes, master!” and drop candy down the pipe. Then, as the quivering seven-year-old palmed the candy, I would leap down, cackling like Quasimodo, and the trembling child would run off with a terror-ific squeal, clutching a squished fistful of chocolate.
It was the greatest Halloween ever! Until, along about kid number forty-six, something went horribly awry. I jumped down, admittedly a little over-zealous, to scare an annoyingly cocky kid, causing the rafters to rattle with gusto. This, in turn, caused the pitchfork to vibrate with verve and finally leap free of its tiny picture-nail hook. Whence it plunged with zest into my bare foot below. I still remember the sound of the tines pushing their way between my meaty midfoot tarsals and striking the concrete beneath.
The E.R. waiting room was full of 13 year old monsters.
The following year I attended my first teenage Halloween party. Dressed as a leprechaun.
Not a pitchfork in sight.