The date is Oct. 31, 2003 and the annual West Patent Elementary School Halloween parade is in full throttle. Tiny princesses, werewolves and vampires march around the spooky fortress with elated expressions on their innocent faces. Everyone except for a newly 8-year-old me.
My third grade self voluntarily sat in the computer lab with all of the other children forced to go there for religious reasons. Most of them were Jehovah’s Witnesses and raced to the entrance of the computer lab alcove to witness this marvelous spectacle. For the past three years of elementary school, I consistently remained glued to my plastic chair as the bewildered teacher, forced to watch over us, comforted me.
I couldn’t bear to make eye contact with horribly distorted faces made of rubber and plastic white veils dripping in blood. Salty tear drops zigzagged down my face and the minute the goblins and ghouls entered the library I utilized my hand shield. “Why is today my birthday,” I exclaimed the minute my mom retrieved me from the bus stop.
This immediately answered her mental question of whether or not I had adorned the black witch costume sneakily placed in my beloved purple L.L. Bean backpack. She could not fathom the idea of a kid being so afraid of a holiday full of candy and playing make-believe. On Oct. 31, 1995 she gave birth to her little “pumpkin” and the joy of having a Halloween baby left her with a euphoric sensation.
For most of elementary school I refused to trick or treat in fear of getting tricked rather than treated, and when most of my peers went to Party City in search of the perfect Day of the Dead garb, I avoided it like the plague. The wall of masks past all of the delicious candy suddenly made me never want to eat a sweet treat again. In third grade the Scream costume was particularly popular among my fellow classmates, but the real fans donned the masks with fake blood pumps.
I remember washing my hands in the community classroom sink and turning around to a ghostly white face that transformed before my eyes into a scarlet crime scene. At the time it seemed as if the nightmares of a Halloween birthday would never end.
Eventually I recognized the perks of being born on All Hallows’ Eve. I have the palate for a day full of candy corn, gummy worms and candy bars. My love affair with candy is a truly defining feature of my personality and I now delight in the spookiest day of the year.
In fifth grade I even mustered up the courage to dress as the witch I secretly hoped I was and marched in the parade. However, if you’re ever looking for someone to watch a scary movie with, I’m not your witch.