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GUEST COLUMN: Summoning forth the friendly ghosts of Halloweens past

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Bob Boulton

I’ll wager two cups of coffee that if this is Halloween night then it’s raining. And despite my repeated endorsement of the Mediterranean paleo high-veg low-carb diet, I will eat way more candy than is good for me.

On Halloween night we’re surrounded by the smoky breath of demons, black cats yowling, and candy apples.

And rain.

For that, my mom would wrap her shower cap over this little kid’s Frankenstein hair. Even so, I could look at myself in the hallway mirror and, for a moment, stand straighter and wonder at the power my costume bestowed.

Once outside, my mom would mumble an urgent prayer for careful drivers. The ghouls and princesses were drawing swirls in the air with glow sticks. Magic wands and swords and candy bags drag on the ground.

Mom says: “Go up to the door, honey, and knock. That’s right, knock. No, on the door. That’s it. No, louder, honey. Knock louder. It’s OK. No, no, no, don’t cry. Please don’t cry.”

When I grew older there was the fun of going out with friends, and our overlapping, non-stop talk. We’d grandstand past that one particular neighbour’s house, the perennial overachiever with the blinking orange lights placed precisely around the door, and the chilling screams from a buried speaker.

For me, one pain that still makes me rub my eyes a little is the year the nice lady down the street explained how she gave her candy apples to children, not to older door-knockers. There I was, dressed like a cowboy, thinking I was a kid and realizing in a flash I wasn’t anymore.

The following Halloween I attended my first costume party. My robot costume with the cardboard box head looked so homemade. Bobbing for apples, which had sounded like a fun game, turned out to be mostly coughing and sputtering while friends laughed.

Some bad dreams can haunt us any time of year – such as the relationship advice in grocery store magazines. But there are other consternations in the universe only Halloween can summon forth.

Like the night I couldn’t stop my big sister from tying a flowery hat on our humiliated dog. Or the year mom covered herself in a white sheet. After one magnificent screech, she needed to pull it off so I could touch her face and be certain it was her.

And now, here I am, all grown up, squeezing into that old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume. I’m hoping for dry skies and that no one notices my age. All I want to worry about is explaining to my dentist why I have red candy apple stuck between my teeth.

Bob Boulton is a Sarnia writer and the creator of a blog for new and renewing writers, bobswritefromthestart.blogspot.com


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