Bully Incident #10: The Long Halloween (1979)


Being that Halloween is next week, it seems an appropriate time to tell the bully story I recall for Halloween. On one level I loved Halloween as a kid. Who didn’t? But the 70’s was somewhat of a strange time for Halloween as a kid.

UnicefSchools gave us these boxes from Unicef and part of what we had to do was collect money with the candy. They would teach us to say “Trick or Treat…Unicef” at every door and we would collect the money as well as candy. It wasn’t that this was annoying, it was fun to go, but a strange night to choose for a fundraiser. I notice that today it’s not done. It must not have lasted much past my childhood.

One particular Halloween fits with a bully story. Most of us go out with our friends. I was no different. My friends in the neighborhood were named Aaron, Amed, and Ken. One Halloween we had all arranged to go out together. I remember Aaron calling me to tell me to meet them at his house down the street.

I got dressed in whatever bloody costume I thought would be cool when I was 11 years old. I remember doing the blood. I’d make it out of corn syrup and red food coloring. I got all ready and headed down the street with my flashlight to Aaron’s house. When I got there, his mother told me they left 5 minutes earlier.

I was pretty shocked and sad. I headed away from their Yellow and Green house and down the street, planning to head back home. I recall crying a bit, but trying to hold it in. Then I heard it. Some laughing from the bushes. Then they called my name. It was my friends. As I approached the bush they’d run. I tried to catch them, but it was dark and they’d hide again.

They were laughing and calling my name, but not letting me catch them. This went on for quite a while. Eventually they ran into the woods and disappeared. I remember thinking that, if they were joking, they’d come out. It didn’t feel like a joke to me. At this point I was really upset and hurt. I went home.

When I got home, my mom asked me what happened and why I wasn’t out there. I made up some story about not really wanting to go out this Halloween and I just turned on the TV and watched a movie called “Phantasm”. I remember watching it, because I remember that night. It just doesn’t go away, these memories. That was the last Halloween I went out Trick or Treating. Now, I say to myself that I had outgrown it at 12 years old. One year later, we would be moving away anyway. But I’m not sure if I wouldn’t be still going out on Halloween for a few more years. I’ll never know.

The next day, my “friends” acted like nothing happened. They acted like they were joking. I can’t say 100 percent that they weren’t, but they didn’t show back up at my house to pick me up and say that the night before. Maybe I was overreacting, but at that moment in time, at that point in my life, with all the other bullying going on, it really did hurt.

So, that’s the long Halloween of 1979. I do enjoy Halloween with my family today. That didn’t stop me from enjoying it. And I’m glad that my kids enjoy it…and don’t have to carry around the Unicef boxes like I did.

Oh, and it wasn’t all sad. That same Halloween my dad thought it would be fun to dress up to answer the door. He bought a gorilla suit to wear. I don’t think he read the tag on the costume carefully, because it was a female gorilla suit. We could tell because it was…well…big on top if you know what I mean. So there were some laughs that night and the strange looks we got from the kids and parents when he answered the door are also memories that I have today. Those are memories that I cherish and help me to laugh.

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6 thoughts on “Bully Incident #10: The Long Halloween (1979)

  1. I did the Unicef gig one year–in’74 or so, while we were living in Gaithersburg. I don’t recall anyone being too annoyed with me asking for money. I was more interested in the candy anyway and I sometimes ‘forgot’ to ask. I think all tolled I raised a little over 6 bucks—alot of money to a 6 year-old back then. It was mostly in change, though, which added to the weight of the bag. I just remember alot of pennies.

    In ’78 I went around as Darth Vader. We’d just moved to Towson, MD earlier that year which is where my bully problems began. I was out with my [girl]friend Anya and thankfully at least on that night there were no problems. I felt safe behind my mask. Speaking of fond memories I always try to catch the Charlie Brown Halloween special when I can–good kid memories!

  2. My first post on my blog is about lies between kids and people. I mentioned that teasing isn’t fun unless both parties are in on it. When it becomes one-sided like that, that’s when it starts being cruel.

    I got that treatment a lot. People who *would* play with me would never let me be truly an equal. We always had to play games that involved a bad person (ie – a wolf, a monsters, saddam hussein . . . whatever) who would either chase the other kids or be chased. I’m not a fast runner. On top of that, I had pretty bad asthma as a kid that made it nearly impossible for me ever to catch someone. They all thought it was funny. I didn’t.

    But you work with what you’ve got.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog.

  3. Alan,

    For what it’s worth, and what I recall of that night, it was just kids being kids… I think we were all just being goofy with the mischief of the night, being halloween and all….

    …and I will say I am sorry if your feelings were hurt.

  4. WOW! This day was not imagined when I began this blog. Of course we were just kids being kids. Your words “I am sorry” as an adult are very powerful.

    29, 30 years later it is long past and only memories (from my perspective I might add). We grow up and hopefully we learn. But every day I still make mistakes and every day I learn and sometimes learn again. Sometimes I am viewed as a bully as well, even though I didn’t mean to hurt someone. I also must apologize.

    I doubt there are many in my stories here who look back as I do here. I imagine many of the true “bullies” I named don’t recall me or what happened in these situations.

    The only real question I have is “did we learn?” We being all. There are tears in my eyes as I write this, because it’s not my intent for anyone in my stories to feel bad or feel they need to say “I am sorry”, but simply to understand. It is a time where I looked back and wrote my memories. It is, in some ways a cathartic and selfish experience for me, never taking into account the day you would read this, Adam.

    I should and will mention to the readers here that I met Adam the day I moved to Lexington and he was there, and my friend, the day I left Lexington. He might be the only person who was my friend and there from day one to the final day of my Lexington years. As he said in his post somewhere else, kids go from being friends, to not, to being friends again all the time. Truth be told, this story was the only time I recall from my youth where I thought Adam wasn’t being my friend. And, as I said, the next day he was there like nothing had happened. I don’t use this blog to talk about all of the fun times Adam and I had as friends. There were lots of them and I think that should be known.

    But, what you wrote in your comment above is very powerful. You had no need to apologize, but did. It does mean something here in this blog and I hope others will see it. Not because you should apologize for events from when you were 11/12 and not that you should feel bad, but that you chose to. That was very brave. Thank you for that.

    I’m glad your memories of our youth are there as well. That also means something to me.

  5. Pingback: A Reunion of Sorts « Bullying Stories

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