Monday, November 9, 2009
When I was a kid, Halloween was a time for us to do our own thing. Parents were exempted from the celebration and were relegated to staying at home for the evening. We had this night to ourselves.
As darkness fell in the late afternoon, we would travel to the outer, unknown neighborhoods, and rove in our small costumed gang of five or maybe six, knocking on doors, looking menacing and threatening as possible.
We would dress like the stinking dead: a hangman with a blood soaked noose around his neck, an executioner with a hurley stick for an axe, a murdered school teacher with a ruler stuck in his back, stumbling and dripping in ketchup.
We intended to shock and to scare and to extract our toll or they would face the horrible consequences of the night: ketchup smeared over the front door, a stink bomb down the letter box, a shower of pebbles hurled at the windows, or if we were really riled up, a slew of illegal fireworks thrown at the door.
We would race away and hide; filled with glee and excitement and feeling powerful for that one night of the year. If some unfortunate mother had neglected to stock up on candy, we would demand money. What choice did she have? Helpless among us, she would fumble in her purse and empty all her change, and sometimes, if we were luckly, even a stray pound note into our insistent hands. We were the owners of the night.
Nowadays, in America of course, things have changed. Parents are afraid to let their kids out of the house unless it's for a soccer game or some other organized activity with adult supervision.
They cite the dangers: Child molesters. Rapists. Kidnappers. Food poisoners. Perverts and the like. The streets, are no longer safe, they say.
I say the dark streets of Dublin were just as dangerous back then, but we knew how to take care of ourselves and our parents knew it too. Why, if a child molester or kidnapper dared approach any one of us, we could assault him with ketchup in the eyes, break a stink bomb in his hair, stuff pebbles in his mouth, let a firework off down his trousers and beat him to a pulp with the hurley stick. We never felt afraid. They, the perverts and the kidnappers were more afraid of us.
I guess it's a different world now.
Posted by A wandering vein at 9:12 PM