Danny has never been trick-or-treating. His mother disliked Halloween, so the holiday didn’t figure much in his childhood. His family usually spent that evening at the movies, enjoying overpriced candy from the concession stand rather than mini Snickers bars out of a plastic pumpkin bucket.
While a childhood without trick-or-treating is a little incomprehensible to me, I’m pretty indifferent to the holiday these days. No children parade through our apartment complex, and I avoid campus this weekend as Rice students indulge in the irresponsible and ill-advised debauchery of the annual party aptly dubbed NOD, or Night of Decadence. I don’t mind a little creepy, but the campiness and the fake gore turn me off. I prefer Halloween as a marker of fall, a sign even in 95-degree Houston that I can bake pumpkin pie.
My mom was a little anti-Halloween herself. She believed, rightly, that the holiday gives adults and children alike license to do stupid and sometimes dangerous things. We did, however, go door-to-door in costume, and I remember quite a few years when she helped me assemble pretty impressive costumes. She managed to sew together a Figment costume, complete with bright orange wings, when I insisted on planning my Halloween attire around a cartoon character baseball cap I’d purchased at Epcot. And the Ford Family Kermit Costume, which has been passed down generation to generation, won me a small trophy in a neighborhood costume contest one October. (Pictured is my nephew Andrew in the costume, transformed into a frog prince.)
Of course, while I was standing on the makeshift first-place pedestal, ready to receive my award, I was whacked smartly on the head by the pitchfork of a little devil (quite literally), who was angry that his arrowed tail hadn’t merited higher recognition. Halloween, I found, kind of hurts.
And then there was the haunted house my Franklin, Tennessee neighborhood would set up each October in the patch of ground past the pond and near the swimming pool. In my memory it’s a creepy lean-to, a building with its own halo of dark even at two o’clock in the afternoon. I never ventured through the haunted house. We moved from Franklin at the end of my second grade year, long before I gathered my Halloween wits.
And, in any case, I was convinced that the actor posing as a maniacal surgeon would terrorize me with a real human kidney or heart, because my brother told me he watched as medical professionals packed human organs into ice-filled coolers at the end of the night.