On my own, I don’t like this holiday; in fact the only time I can remember my mom every really upset at me was over a dispute we had with regards to my unwillingness participate in Halloween (It’s a long story…). It seemed decadent, absurd, and more than a little pagan to my young Christian mind, somehow in a way my favorite holiday, which consists of finding candy-filled eggs concealed by a giant bunny, didn’t.
Today, I enjoy it a good deal more, through the eyes of my children. The first year they were pumpkins, then a monkey and a lion, adorable. The year after that they were cows, and we were cowboys, a year ahead of the fad :-), and twice as adorable as the year before. I’d show you the pictures if I didn’t fear you’d seize up, over-dosed in some epileptic fit of cuteness.
Last year they began choosing for themselves, a bubble bee and a puppy. This year we have one scientist; B said he wanted to dress up as me (Yes, I’m choked up at that). Our other boy chose to be a pirate, but, sadly, R is not a pirate by profession. Anyway, I’m looking forward to tonight.
But enough about adorable us ;-), I want to post some advice for them impressionable teens out there; too late for this year, but for the next.
I never liked Halloween in my youth, save for one year. Three of my buddies and I got jobs (paying nothing really) at a haunted house. I loved it; it was weeks of some of the most fun I had as a teen.
We had all secured positions in the Mad Scientist Room. It was filled with Jacob’s ladders, plasma spheres, and so on; it reeked of ozone, sweat, and artificial fog. The guy we worked for “experimented” with two of my friends in the center of the room, and another friend and I directly worked the crowd, who were segregated from all the equipment by a railing.
I was some nondescript monster mask in a pitch-black robe, but frightening enough. Girls smelling of hairspray shoved their boyfriends into my path at my approach; their boyfriends sometimes acted like even younger girls for the same reason :-). It was great humor therapy for a just-coming-out-to-himself gay.
By the last night, I had it all figured out for optimum results. I kept in my favorite location most of the time, with my face in a dark corner of the room, my hood up; I was practically invisible. The customers would all have to file past me, the center of the room cordoned off. They’d come in their groups, typically in the following order: 1. Those posing bravely for a date up front, 2. the most vulnerable in the center (not coincidentally the folks who have the most fun), and 3. the kids who think they’re witty with their detached observations in back (my position when I was a customer :-)).
In our room, though, they’d all be focused on the gruesome/cheesy scene of plastic body parts, electric arcs, and bad acting playing out in the center of the room. No one would notice me as they passed unless they touched me.
About halfway into my last night, it was packed. A group of apparent collage students entered the room, and all set into making fun of the scene. I let the first couples brush by me and once I was in the center of their huddle I turned and roared. They all screamed and turned to meet my hideous, bloody “face”.
Most the guys were visibly terrified, and the all girls ducked behind them. I had surprised them perfectly; some even had their backs up to me, barely touching. One guy--I’ll not forget his face--threw both hands up, fingers spread, and let out the most high-pitched squeal I’d yet heard from a guy. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen. But then, still with the terrified 1950’s-horror-film-actress look on his face, he clenched his fist and swung wildly, hitting me right below the hole meant for my eye.
He clocked me good, and I was stunned, but the humor of it won out.
Once sense returned to the guy (“Oh yes, I’m in a haunted house, that was a mask, I just hit a kid, and there are no such things as monsters…”), he started repeating apologies, intermixed with “Dude, are you okay?” I was fine, just trying to catch my breath from laughing through pain.
But that one bruised cheek was well worth the price of those weeks working in a haunted house. I’d recommend it. Heck, the look on just that one guy’s face was worth it, and getting punched in the face now seems like an added bonus :-).