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.
Schools 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.