When I was a kid, Halloween was a little wilder than it is today. You went out to trick-or-treat only after dark and no kid over the age of 8 went with a parent in tow. Kids stayed out until 9 p.m. or until people turned off their porch lights and brought in their jack-o-lanterns.
The Halloween I’m remembering took place when I was 10. That year, I dressed as a witch, complete with raggedly black dress, tall black hat, and painted green face. When the designated time came for trick-or-treat, I popped across the street to fetch my friend, Yvonne. I was appalled when she answered the door. Instead of wearing her matching witch costume, she was garbed as a fairy in a frilly pink tutu and glittery wings. But that wasn’t the worst of it. As we were preparing to leave, her mother appeared, dressed in a puffy, fuchsia-colored jacket, and announced she would be joining us.
My humiliation increased as we worked our way down the block. Most parents, if they escorted their kids on Halloween, had the good sense to wear dark colors and linger on the sidewalk, preferably hidden by a tree. But not Yvonne’s mom. She came right up the walkways with us and then proceeded to gossip with each neighbor who answered the door. At this rate, we’d never make a decent candy haul.
After another two blocks, I couldn’t take it. To this day, I can’t remember exactly what happened. Maybe I went too far ahead or turned a corner before they did. But, suddenly, I had lost sight of them. I was out on my own. At first I felt kind of guilty, but then I was excited. I’d never been out trick-or-treating without a friend or parent. Buoyed by my newfound liberation, I made my way down one street after another, steadily filling my bag with candy.
And then I realized I was on a street I didn’t recognize. None of the houses looked remotely familiar. Halfway down the street, I came upon a lane – an unlit gravel path that ran between the houses. Even though this lane was completely dark, with no sign of any people, I felt compelled to go down it. By now, my heart was pounding, my hands clutching my bag of candy. But even though I was truly frightened, I was also exited. My overactive imagination had kicked into gear. What if this unknown lane led to somewhere magical, where witches really existed? What if it was a portal to a different land?
But when I emerged from the dark, spooky lane, I was back on a familiar street. It wasn’t long before I figured out how to get back home. Eventually, I ran into Yvonne and her mother, who had barely noticed my absence. But I never forgot that feeling – that wonderful mixture of fear and excitement. And I never stumbled upon that lane again.
What about you? Any memorable Halloween experiences to share?