I can’t really remember when I stopped being a kid. Maybe it was debunking Santa Clause’s existence or having to buy my first “adult” bra (which introduced me to the hell that is underwire), or maybe I gave it all up when I stopped trick or treating around 11 or 12.
Most of those nights I remember vividly. Running down sidewalks clogged with leaves and other costumed children, trading candy with my cousins and friends like we worked in Wall Street finances: a Reese’s Cup for a Twix, Starbursts for Skittles. Candy corn and those nasty caramel taffys with their odd cream centers were left at the bottom of the bag until Mom threw the whole thing away by Thanksgiving.
I was a typical product of the 90s, either carrying a huge plastic pumpkin, a McDonalds witch, or a treat bag attached to a fake monster hand, entreating for candy with an opened green palm. We would travel through neighborhoods where every adult seemed to be ancient, ordering us to tell jokes or sing songs for our sugar filled suppers. My favorite was Black Cat and I never turned down the chance to sing for an adoring crowd, no matter how cute or hellish I looked.
I think I was either a witch or a vampire for most of my childhood costume parades at school. Peppered in was Cleopatra (along with a stuffed snake), Cruella De Vil with a fake cigarette holder and bright red lipstick, and my ultimate childhood costume: a ghost of the Titanic complete with an authentic turn of the century dress and hat, a rubber innertube with R.M.S Titanic spray painted onto it, and FX makeup done by mom’s Halloween obsessed best friend (and second mom) that included blue lips, and fake plastic crystals that looked like ice.
That year I won a costume contest at a Halloween car show. I still have yet to be prouder of a costume.
As I got older, I started doling out candy at my second mom’s house that always looked like the Haunted Mansion come alive, but way cooler. A large spider sat on their roof as humongous inflatables of different characters and creatures lined their walkway. I was the one ordering little kids to sing songs for their candy, and scared them one year when I wore a werewolf mask and stayed perfectly still until one passed me by to get treats only to lunge and growl at the unassuming kid. Another year, I was a teenager with vampire fangs and a Twilight T-shirt, and in college I was a brain eating Snooki, my bangs bumped up as high as possible, fake blood covering most of my face and body.
But it was the years of repeatedly singing Black Cat for a whole block, my cheeks pinched by people who are now long gone, visiting family in different parts of town to show off my myriad costumes that still stick with me the most.
For the last few years, I either went to Halloween parties, or led a group of giggling preteens through their cul de sac like a short Steve Harrington, marking their path with a night piercing flashlight. But this year I’m a little lost.
I have a dress rehearsal for a local show tonight, so the porchlights will probably stay off. I had a half-baked costume idea that definitely won’t happen at this point in the day. My porch is devoid of my usual spider themed decorations and I’m not really sure what I’ll be doing after the aforementioned rehearsal. This Halloween definitely feels a little different from the other ones, but still, I’m not really sad about that fact.
While I’m not doing any of my normal traditions, a small spark of the girl who stared intensely at the camera with a rubber tube over one ghostly white shoulder, itchy from the frozen makeup all over her face is still, surprisingly, there (the picture, sadly, is missing in action from both my house and my grandmother’s). While she no longer has to wear a thermal underneath her pretty costume, or is terrified by a neighbor dressed as Ghost Face while passing out candy anymore, she’s still there.
Not so much outwardly, but the feeling of Halloween, the anticipation for fun, spookiness, and (mostly) family-friendly thrills that I’ve loved since I first watched Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, and (the much underrated) Tower of Terror is back with me.
So yes, I can’t really remember when I stopped being a kid, but in some aspects, I never really did stop. Now, adult me is going to dig into a big bag of candy I bought myself the other day and watch every Halloween movie I can before the clock hits midnight and a new month begins.
See you ghouls soon!