Because I lived in the country when I was growing up, I’d venture into the city and go trick-or-treating every Halloween with my cousins and some friends, who lived in a densely-populated part of town with what seemed like a bazillion trick-or-treaters.
Seriously, you almost couldn’t make your way down the sidewalk without tripping over some other pint-size goblin or superhero.
We did it every year, but one year in particular stands out in my memory.
My cousin, friends and I made our way from house-to-house, like we always did. I was at a disadvantage, as always, because of my mask. I’m pretty sure this year it was a cheap rubber monster mask of some kind, but the disadvantage came in because I had to wear it over my glasses.
As a kid who got glasses in the middle of first grade, I had grown accustomed to all the drawbacks of being a four eyes. But one of the worst was how anything that covered your nose and face – winter weather knit ski masks, for example, but especially Halloween masks – would make my glasses fog up.
So I was flying blind. Or walking blind.
My group walked up the sidewalk to a house much like every other house we had visited that night. But this one was different.
Inside lived someone who loved Halloween very much. That or a sadist who hated kids.
As we drew near the door, someone on the front porch pulled a rope and a dummy fell out of a tree in front of us. It was obviously a stuffed figure but freaked us out anyway. We turned to run.
But they weren’t done with us yet. The homeowner had stationed friends or, most likely, teenage offspring, behind bushes and trees in the front yard. As we beat a hasty retreat they popped out at us, yelling and growling.
We all ran like crazy. Some of us missed the sidewalk and burst out into the nearby street. Luckily cars were moving along at a crawl because of all the kids who were out.
I’ve never forgotten that night. I still think of it when I’m walking my son through our neighborhood and somebody has obviously replaced a stuffed figure in a porch chair with a living, breathing person, ready to jump at us.
It’s fun to be scared on Halloween. A little bit.