By John Hubbuch
Somewhere along the way the adults hijacked Halloween. I'm not sure when the hijacking occurred, but for evidence one need only go to one of the seasonal Halloween stores that, like mushrooms after a rain, spring up every year around the first of October.
I recently went into one of these stores in search of orange and black plastic eggs. Papa had the brilliant idea that he would have a Halloween/Easter Egg Hunt for his two grandchildren. I found no such eggs, but I did find a baby impaled on a pitchfork, multiple amputations, several beheadings, gallons of blood and an arsenal of medieval weaponry. There was a vast array of "sexy" costumes — not for little girls, but really big girls. There was the slut vampire, the slut witch, the slut nurse and the slut policewoman. There was enough fish net hose to outfit the Folies Bergere forever.
Halloween is the second biggest holiday for liquor sales after the Yuletide. Dressed up in costumes, adults can get drunk and nobody will know it's them. Sure, Batman will have another drink.
In 1961 Halloween in New Albany, Ind., was much different than it is today. Halloween was for the kids. The idea of my mom dressing up as Vampira is almost unimaginable. For sure it is disturbing. I mention Halloween 1961 for a reason. It was my last one to get dressed up.
In the run-up to the big day, I had suffered the annual angst of deciding on my costume. For reasons lost in the mists of time and memory, I decided to be a clown. I headed out to trick-or-treat with my brother, flopping along in outsized shoes, red bulbous nose, orange hair and baggy pants. Everything went OK until about the fifth or sixth house.
There then occurred one of those moments of piercing clarity.
Ding Dong. "Trick or treat."
The lady goes to get the candy. She returns.
To me she says: "Aren't you a little old for trick or treating?"
Her comment confirmed what I was already thinking. I was too old to be doing this. And even worse I was wearing a stupid clown suit.
I pivoted away from the door, and ran home in tears. I was Pierrot, the sad clown. Adding insult to injury, I had hardly any candy in my bag. At least my brother Bob, after seeing how distraught I was, gave me some of his candy when he returned home a couple of hours later after a successful evening of foraging.
To this day, I remember my last Halloween. That night I learned the hard lesson that life moves on, and you couldn't be a kid forever.
And to this day, I hate clowns.