Thursday, October 30, 2008


The Undertaker Halloween maskI gathered fallen leaves and spread them on the porch. I positioned a green spotlight on the dogwood in the front yard. I chalked an outline of a dead Frankenstein on my driveway. I played The Undertaker’s theme song on repeat, the bells tolling, signaling the annual night of ghosts and ghouls.

Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. I loved the cold, the darkness, the tricks, the pranks, the festive atmosphere and neighborly spirit, and above all, the candy. Many of my friends gave up trick-or-treating in high school in favor of parties, but I didn’t. Like many traditions, especially those revolving around fond holidays, I couldn’t let go no matter my age.

One year I trick-or-treated in two neighborhoods with two different groups of people, steadfast in my wish for a long, continuous sugar high. Unlike my brother, JD, who devoured his candy (he once ate 50 Starburst in 8 minutes), I was a saver. I ate my final Snickers well into the winter. My candy would’ve lasted until the summer if JD hadn’t stolen some. I should’ve made him eat the Almond Joys for punishment.

At sixteen I wouldn’t let cancer ruin my fun. I got released from the hospital on Halloween morning. I went to Best Buy in the afternoon to buy Outkast’s newly released Stankonia, where the employees were dressed in ‘70s costumes. I ate McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets afterward for my first solid food in two days.

My lack of energy and inability to transport adequate oxygen throughout my body didn’t stop me from trick-or-treating. My friend, Robo-Lax, joined me. I wore my Undertaker mask like I did the previous three years. Robo-Lax and I traded candy afterwards. I gave him the Almond Joys for free.

The three Halloweens prior to cancer I couldn’t wait to take off my Undertaker mask because I got so hot. Looking like the Sick Kid made me wish I had a mask. On that Halloween night with Robo-Lax, behind Undertaker, I felt like myself for a brief few hours.

I went trick-or-treating at nineteen, and again at twenty-three purely on a joke/dare/“Are we seriously doing this?” basis. Facing embarrassment, that’s how I justified it.

Age has taken away the excitement of Halloween, something I once vowed to never let happen. I have passed the torch to a younger generation of kids. It is their holiday, their candy, their chance to be The Undertaker.

Someday the excitement will return and I'll answer the door in my Undertaker mask with his signature phrase, "Rest in peace!" My desire to accumulate loads of candy will be replaced with a desire to scare the shit out of children.

Happy Halloween.