I’m sorry if I offend some of you with this statement, but I’m not a fan of Halloween. For me, it’s just an annoyance, sort of like having a stone in my shoe for several weeks leading up to it. But I have a valid reason for not liking Halloween. Catholic school nuns. They scarred me for life. When they got done with me I had no chance of ever enjoying the holiday.
You see, I went to Catholic grammar school and high school but it was in grammar school that the real damage took place. On Halloween, everyone had to dress up as their patron saint. So while all my public school friends dressed up in their costume of choice on Halloween, I had to dress up as Saint George. I’d like to tell you that it was a simple costume but I had a little old Italian aunt who was not only very religious, but she sewed. She also had several little old italian women friends who sewed and who viewed this creative event as a calling from God.
You haven’t really lived until you are forced to stand on a chair with three or four old women surrounding you with pins, scissors and fabric. It’s a frightening experience. Needless to say, my St George outfit was pretty detailed, and heavy, and embarrassing, especially when we had to parade outside for our families and the entire surrounding neighborhood. This is pretty much what my costume looked like minus the horse and dragon.
Thank you for feeling my pain.
The result of this humiliation was rebellion. Now I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. I was a good kid growing up. I never gave my parents any problems or got into trouble. I was a boy scout, an altar boy and was respectful to almost everyone.
But two things happen to intersect when I was ten or twelve years old. Cranky neighbors and mischief night. Now I didn’t know until recently that only the state of New Jersey refers to the night before Halloween as mischief night. A few other areas of the country call it goosey night or something else but most don’t refer to it as anything at all. Where I come from it’s a night for kids to get even.
You see, I had a couple of neighbors who just didn’t like kids. When I grew up, playing ball on the street happened everyday. Whether it was stickball, football, basketball, punchball or kickball, it was our neighborhood and many times our parents would come out and play with us. But there were a couple of neighbors who were just….well, you know who they are. Everyone has one or two. We had two, one on each end of the street. They would call the cops on a regular basis. The cops would come and try to reason with them and explain that we weren’t really doing anything wrong. We weren’t damaging property or playing late at night or creating a disturbance. But it didn’t stop these people. They just continued to call.
Then mischief night came along. I think I read somewhere that the definition of mischief night is when a group of juveniles get together to cause property damage. I suppose that’s a fair statement, and though I never considered myself to be a juvenile in a West Side Story kind of way, I sort of like the label. Cause when you’re a Jet you’re a Jet, right?
Nowadays this is an example of mischief night.
A little toilet paper thrown over trees and lawns.
Yeah, I didn’t do that. My mischief was a little more difficult to clean up. It just so happened that my mother and father owned a little grocery store. As a result, I had access to lots of eggs and tomatoes. So lets just say that the next morning someone had to pull out their power washer in order to clean up the mess created by angry Saint George. Oh, that’s right, power washers didn’t exist fifty years ago. Oh well.
There was one other thing I used. Wax. You see most kids would take a bar of soap and write on car windows. But soap is easy to wash off. Wax, on the other hand requires a straight edge razor in order to scrape it off. If all your windows were covered in wax, it’s safe to say you’d be late for work the next morning.
So that’s my confession. There was a little thing I did to someone especially annoying that included a bag of dog droppings placed on his concrete steps and set on fire as I rang the doorbell. It was fun to see him stomp it out with his foot but we don’t have to talk about that now. It’ll be Halloween soon, and mischief night is right around the corner.
You didn’t irritate any juveniles this past year, did you?