A Halloween Story
October 21, 2010
October 21, 2010
by Katherine LaCroix
For my beautiful and talented cousin, Julia, on her 28th birthday. In the spirit of family, I give you a story of childhood memories, holiday traditions, and cardboard robots.
Celebrating Halloween in Montana is a tricky thing. No matter how cold it gets, kids will always find a way to drag their parents away from their cozy fireplaces and into the bitter snow for nothing more than teeth-rotting candy. The more resourceful and responsible parents coerce their little ones into choosing a costume bulky enough to facilitate a snowsuit, or, at the very least, long underwear. The other, dare I say, less conscientious parents, on the other hand, gladly allow their children to select their costumes willy-nilly, and wait until Halloween night to crush the kids’ visions of the perfect getup by requiring a parka and mittens before leaving the house. (This restriction, I have grown to believe, is partly responsible for the recent trend of slutty-girl costumes. Those women aren’t whores, they’re just rebelling against their parents and that miserable long underwear that ruined their Little Mermaid costumes in first grade.)
My freakishly crafty mother typically forced me to choose a costume in September, as she required a good month to sew together a fabulously intricate costume for me to flaunt, making her the town Super Mom. She still scoffs at her shoddy handiwork when she comes across photos of that Halloween when I was four, dressed as a bunny, with one ear that didn’t stand up quite right. One fateful year, Mom had too much on her plate, and the task of constructing my costume fell to Dad. After wandering the garage and collecting an old box, a half-empty can of silver spray paint, and some extra dryer vent hose, Dad declared I was to be a robot. It was a great idea, Mom said, urging me to agree, knowing the box left room for a snowsuit.
Halloween night (or eve, if you want to be spooky about it) began that year by visiting the grandparents for photos with the cousins. Grandma and grandpa live in what you would call a more urban area of Montana, where the houses are close together and connected by sidewalks, making it prime trick-or-treating ground. Our crew took off down the street like a pack of ravenous wolves, frenzied by the scent of sugar. We ran from house to house, ringing doorbell after doorbell, bouncing with the youthful enthusiasm that seemed to scream, “Shut up and hand over the candy, we got a pace to keep!”
I’m sorry. That last bit was a mistake. My brother and cousins may have torn down the road like Thoroughbreds right out of the gate, but if that’s the simile we’re going to use, I would have been the retarded Clydesdale with a lame hoof. My adorable robot costume permitted only a limited range of motion, making it difficult to bend at the knees, and nearly impossible at the waist. Climbing porch steps was a feat in itself, especially with my clan rushing past me, back down the stairs and onto the next house. As I clambered down the sidewalk, my plastic candy bucket in tow, I kept shouting, “Hey, wait up guys!” It was to no avail.
Our next stop was my family’s neighborhood in a more rural part of town. Houses sat about a quarter acre apart on a dirt road with no sidewalks, allowing for great expanses of darkness between homes. Being an unusually warm Halloween that year, our crew was free to race across peoples’ lawns without the threat of waist-deep snow. As I longingly watched my brother and cousins dart from door to door, I waddled along at top speed alone and frustrated. Determined to catch up, I cut across an incredibly dark span of yard, eyeing a porch light in the distance. Suddenly, I caught the toe of my hiking boot on a semi-overgrown sprinkler head and plunged face first into the grass. I tried squirming and bending, attempting to adjust my robot box enough to stand up. No luck. I was like a fallen T-Rex, trying to use its tiny, useless arms in a futile attempt to roll over. Next, I hollered and called to my brethren, realizing that by that time, they were already at least two houses up the road. Finally, I gave flailing a shot, thinking someone might just see me and come to my rescue. Again, nothing. I went limp, sobbing to myself over all the candy I would miss out on that night.
Like I said, Halloween in Montana can be freaking chilly. Parents know this, and they have managed to work out a trick-or-treating system that is both safe for the kids and comfortable for them. That year, Dad and Uncle remained in the toasty-warm truck, drinking their “adult cider” from an old Thermos no doubt, and crawling along in first gear while keeping an eye on us kids by the beam of the headlights. Several minutes after my tumble, Dad’s familiar green Ford crept down the street behind me. I can only imagine my father’s horror upon realizing the peculiar grey box in some stranger’s side yard was actually his daughter, face down and looking quite lifeless. He dashed up to my rumpled robot form, insisted that I was okay, and snatched me up by the armpits. Wiping my tears and most of my face paint away, I scrambled to collect my scattered candy. Across the way, my gang came trotting up to the truck, satisfied with their night of pillaging and prepared to take on the next block. Seeing a lapse in their focus, I dashed straight-legged for the street corner, screeching something about being first to all the candy.
Mad love to my cousin for crafting this wickedly awesome Halloween/Birthday Story. Best. Present. Ever. All that aside, I would like to thank her for being a Guest Blog Contributor for the month of October. Lord knows it wasn’t easy with me breathing down her neck (not in the creepy sense) and reminding her of deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, people! Sometimes I think that between the two of us I win the title for being the funniest, but then she wows me with something like this and I know she takes the medal.
But it’s in our blood. Storytelling comes naturally to Kathy and as I’ve learned from our childhood tales together, there is never a dull moment when she’s around. I hope you’ve enjoyed her tale and may you never dress as a cardboard robot on a snowy Montana night.
Or better yet. Do.