Halloween was always a scary time for me when I was growing up. Not because of all the ghosts and goblins and such, but because my mom made all my costumes.
Every kid knows that an acceptable Halloween costume must either be scary or cool, and Mom’s costumes fell short on both counts. I was that kid walking around the neighborhood wearing the nasty old worn-out sheet. It’s hard to look like a ghost if your sheet has three years of slobber stains on it.
After a while, Mom just quit trying. She would send me out the door on Halloween night in my normal clothes and say, “Tell the neighbors you’re dressed up like a kid who can’t afford a costume.”
Even worse than Mom’s costumes, though, were the hand-me-down costumes from my older siblings. This wouldn’t have been so bad if my older siblings hadn’t all been girls. It was humiliating and there was no talking my way out of it either. I tried convincing my friends that I was wearing Superman’s summer costume but they knew a Wonder Woman costume when they were looking at it.
So, thus outfitted, we kids would forage for goodies in our neighborhood. When we got home with the spoils of our evening, my parents made us dump our candy on the table for inspection. One solid rule of inspection was that we kids could not eat anything that was not professionally wrapped for fear that someone might have poisoned it, which was just fine with me. What kind of nut gives a kid an apple or popcorn ball for Halloween anyway?
All I wanted was chocolate. That’s it. Just chocolate. Sure, I was willing to wade through a few Smarties and Sweet Tarts, but making me trudge around the neighborhood dressed up like Wonder Woman for an apple just seemed wrong. How tough is it to stock up on a few bags of Snickers or Milky Ways anyway, for crying out loud?
The candy my parents were offering wasn’t much better though. The kids visiting my house got a handful of that peanut butter taffy wrapped in the black and orange wrappers. This was (and I believe still is) the nastiest and cheapest candy known to Man. Back then, you could go out and buy a dump-truck load of the stuff for about a buck seventy-nine, and it’s even cheaper today. They still use this candy in hospitals in some parts the country to induce vomiting if a patient has swallowed a poisonous popcorn ball.
So once again, here comes Halloween. But don’t look for me to ever don the Wonder Woman costume again. Not that I don’t still have the legs for it, though.