My brother used to love Halloween. Not anymore.
Jay’s change of heart began while living in a small prairie town. That October he went whole hog on decorations. His house looked positively Gothic and the front door creaked and groaned like the soundtrack of an old horror movie. More importantly, he bought an enormous supply of chocolate bars and potato chips. Those were his favourite treats as a boy and he always made sure every child who came trick-or-treating got something nice. Luckily, there was always plenty left over for his mooching brother.
I popped over on Halloween to survey his handiwork.
“The house looks terrific,” I said admiringly.
“Yes but you haven’t seen the pièce de résistance. Get a load of my costume.”
We walked into the living room where he put on his werewolf mask. It was hideous. The cat, who had been sleeping contentedly on the windowsill, woke up and turned to look at us. Suddenly her fur stood on end and her tail grew to three times its normal width.
“What on earth is wrong with her?” Jay asked.
“I think she just established that’s you’re wearing the mother of all scary masks.”
“Do you have a costume, Ray?”
“Nope, I don’t like Halloween.”
“Remember when I was 12? I had a growth spurt. I was six inches taller than my friends. And at every house I got stiffed because they thought I was too old. At the last house I ever went trick-or-treating, the lady gave everyone potato chips but not me. She said, ‘Halloween is for children. I don’t give treats to teenagers.’”
“I tried to explain I was only 12, but the old woman called me a liar and chased me off her front step with a broom.”
“Well, we’ll make up for it by having some leftover chocolate tonight.”
After trick-or-treating ended, I popped back over only to find Jay sitting glumly on the couch.
“What’s the matter?”
“Everything was fine until four smart aleck teenagers came to the door. I gave them all chocolate bars and a few minutes later there they were again! They kept coming back. Same costumes, same kids. So I finally said, ‘Hey guys. I’ve got to save some chocolate bars for the little kids too.’”
“Not unreasonable. What did they say?”
“They started mouthing off. And guess what? Not five minutes later there they were again. This time one of them actually threatened to egg the house. So I told them not come back.
“Then, not two minutes later, there’s the doorbell again and I thought, ‘that’s it!’ So I put on my werewolf mask and decided to get a little payback. I jumped out from behind the door and screamed like a banshee.”
“Serves them right.”
“Yes, but there was just one problem. It wasn’t the teenagers. It was the four year-old girl from next door.”
“Mom screamed and the little girl promptly … umm … wet herself.
“Oh, I bet her Mom was annoyed!”
“Annoyed doesn’t even begin to cover it. She was livid!”
“Not a great night, Jay. But I know just the thing to get your mind off your troubles. Let’s eat some of those little chocolate bars.”
“Uh, we’re not having chocolate.”
“Because I felt so guilty I gave the little girl my leftover Halloween candy.”
“All of it?”
A few minutes later, we were sitting at the kitchen table morosely munching on cheese and crackers. After a long silence Jay said, “ I hate Halloween!”
“Me too,” I replied, wistfully thinking of chocolate. “Me too!”