Chris landed with a staggering thud in the middle of the floor between the two beds. Sure, we girls watched him climb up to the top bunk in his Superman costume. Which, by the way, consisted of a large threadbare towel pinned around his neck for a cape. For his torso, one of our leotards with a capital “S” plastered to his chest. And to complete his super-hero costume, his tighty-whities.
We four girls listened to Chris as he proclaimed that he was really and truly Superman. Bursting into laughter, we told him how silly his idea was. Chris, having a full six or seven years of male mettle under his belt took our ribbing as a challenge.
“Oh yeah?!” He shouted. “I can fly! You just watch me!”
My sisters and I giggled even harder. Our brother was no stranger to teasing.
“It’s only a stupid Halloween costume, Chris. Take it off. Let’s empty the pillowcases and trade up the candy.”
“It’s NOT just a costume. Mom said I am Superman.”
We mocked, “Well Chris, if you’re so sure of being Superman, go ahead and prove it.”
“Okay, I’ll fly right in front of you. Then you’ll believe me.”
Hilarious girl guffaws now as he climbed the ladder at the foot of the bed. I, for one, didn’t think he’d actually jump, or if he did, he’d at least make it clear across.
He reached the top. Then, in one swell foop, my brother thrust both arms straight out in front of him, flattened his body, and shoved off the mattress with both feet.
Splat! He hit the floor spread eagle, face down. Towel-cape draped over his torso, skinny body splayed across the bedroom floor. Capital “S” for “Suckered into that one” buried underneath. After Andrea’s initial screech we all stared, aghast. For a nano-second in time, we four sisters were silenced. Chris? Dead at the tender age of six? Then the horrifying realization that our own untimely deaths were imminent.
“Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph-God-forgive-me-for-swearing what was that bang!” Mom careening down the hall in her typical “one of them broke their neck” panic. Sometimes she was dangerously close to the truth.
Chris, the future four year college hockey defenseman/real life hero made a snap recovery. Oh, the concussion? Back in the day we took our lumps.
We enjoyed Halloween. It was good, simple, cheap fun. Costumes consisted of ghosts, goblins, witches, fabled characters and cartoon heroes. Door to door trick-or-treating was relatively safe. We dressed up only once, ran through the streets, collected our stash until exhausted then hit the pillowcases.
Over the past four decades it seems we’ve witnessed a surge of Halloween inspired violence. An obsession with the grotesque and macabre. Prolific gruesome imagery, grisly scenes of killings. Pitch dark trails with hatcheted, dismembered bodies. Acts of bloody, perverted violence performed in the name of entertainment and profit. Halloween and its agents have carried their game frightfully too far.
The line which separates fantasy from reality is normally blurred at certain stages of development. Unfortunately, some experience difficulty establishing that line throughout life. Unquenchable violent themes play no small role in our world where mass killings have become common quasi solutions.
Halloween ought to be bettered, simplified, focused on tradition versus revolting horror. If you’re not an ostrich, you’ll encounter plenty of that in real life.
Let’s take the terror out of Halloween. Eliminate adult competition. Give it back to the children. Allow their innocent imaginations to run free. Let threadbare towels be capes, six year olds to be homespun Superheroes, kids to take their lumps.
The holiday could fall flat.
Or, kids being kids, they might just fly.