And jack-o-lanterns?  They’re scary.


In the town I grew up in, Halloween meant chaos.

It meant teenagers cruising the streets, knocking over mailboxes, smashing pumpkins on sidewalks, throwing eggs at houses and middle schoolers.  But it’s okay because—surprise—the middle schoolers were running loose, swinging flour socks (yes, that would be an athletic sock, filled with flour; oh my gosh, it hurts so bad) and spraying shaving cream on little kids dressed as ghosts, fairies, dead zombie-rockstars.  The middle schoolers would make the little kids cry.  But the little kids would also cry when they didn’t get the kind of candy they wanted, when they couldn’t take a second handful of candy from the cauldron-shaped candy bowl, when their friends got more candy than they did, when the wind blew too hard.  Etc.  Later in the evening, it felt like anyone would cry at any time for anything, including (ironically) (or appropriately) feeling ill for eating too much of the candy they cried to get.

I eventually volunteered for candy duty so I would have an excuse not to go out with my friends, who, incidentally, were the ones who taught me how a flour sock feels.  And at some point during candy duty, I would look out from our front porch and review the Halloween scene: dark night, windy, leaves a’swirling, and a parade of big and little kids, all with stomach aches and tear-streaked faces, glaring eyes and homemade weapons, or squeal-y cars and mean laughs.

I hated Halloween.  Everybody was their worst self.

And I never had a good costume.

“Me?  I’m a teacher.  Thanks for the Tootsie Roll Pop, Mrs. Coonerty.”

I’d like for Halloween to be redeemed for me.  But I’m not sure what it would take.  I have this idea that it would require me to be different than I am.  I’d have to like ghouls, ghosts, howls, and thrills.  To want to eat too much candy.  To hide my identity and prowl the night away.  And I’d have to–have to–be good at putting together a cool/funny/smart/awesome costume when, let’s be honest, I can barely pull it together for my everyday clothes.

Oh, bahpumpkin.  I guess what I need are the three ghosts of Halloween past, present, and future.  Only, tell them to come without the clinking chains, wild laughing, and ghoulish no-face.  That’s scary.