(This is the fifth story in my series titled “Tragic Stories From Matt’s Childhood.” To read the others, click here,)
This may be a surprise to you readers, but I am actually a huge fan of halloween. Okay, so maybe this isn’t a surprise to you, considering my blog’s new orange background color, my unhidden love of Stephen King, and the fact that my last post featured an evil talking spider that threatened to suck the blood from my veins. Nevertheless, it is true.
But my love for halloween now doesn’t even compare to how much I loved it back when I was twelve(ish) years old, where this story takes place. I was specifically excited for that year because it would be the first time my friends and I were allowed to go trick-or-treating on our own. In the years before we’d always have a bunch of lousy parents following us around, stopping us from staying out too late and making sure we always said thank you after each house. (I said it every time, but unless my parents heard it all the way from the mailbox, it didn’t count.) This year though, we were free.
A list of the notable people in my original group of trick-or-treaters: (Note: these are not their actual names.)
- Josh, who you may remember as the guy who got me addicted on ding-dong-ditching.
- Brendan, my brother, who has been weirdly absent from this blog, all things considered. (Did you guys even know I had a brother? Did you guys know I had two?)
There was another guy, who was supposed to go with us but he bailed at the last minute for some reason. That’s okay though, because we were quickly introduced to a new group member, who immediately invited himself along for the night mere minutes after meeting us. Some facts about him:
- His name was also Brendan, which is how I first met him to begin with. I was calling out my brother’s name for some reason and he responded, and we both thought it was a neat coincidence.
- He didn’t actually live in the neighborhood, but was just visiting his grandparents’ house for the weekend.
- He was extremely annoying.
Admittedly, I didn’t think he was that bad, but everyone else in the group’s patience with him quickly grew thin, and I understood why. He was very loud, a bit too energetic, and his jokes were terrible. They were the sort of jokes that were just so painfully unfunny that the act of not cringing was too much of a struggle to bear. By the time we’d gotten through five houses with him, one thing was clear: he needed to go.
But I was a bit too nice to just kick Brendan out of the group, (“We don’t want you here, nerd!”) so I just accepted the fact that I’d have to put up with him for the rest of the night. Maybe next year I’d have an enjoyable Halloween, I figured.
Josh and the other members, however, weren’t quite so willing to spend the night with this kid, and immediately started looking for an opportunity to get the hell of way from him.
Said opportunity presented itself as we reached one specific house, belonging to that old man who had recently threatened to shoot Josh and I if we ever stepped on his property again. For reasons that should be obvious, Josh and I didn’t want to trick-or-treat this house, even with our current disguises. We also didn’t want to hang out with the human version of Jar Jar Binks all night.
So Josh came up with a plan to kill two birds with one stone, and right outside the old man’s house he said to Brendan, “Okay, you go trick-or-treat that house over there; we’re all just gonna stay here and huddle.”
Weirdly enough, he actually fell for this.
As soon as he started towards the old man’s house, all of them sprinted towards the shortcut, through a neighbor’s yard and out onto my street. I didn’t go at first, (because morals!) but then I ended up caving and following anyway.
But Matt! you say. You were the only kids Brendan #2 knew in the whole neighborhood! How could you just abandon a friendless child in the middle of the night?
I know, judgemental reader, I know. I still feel bad about it years afterward. (In fact it was one of my confessions when I went to penance later that month.*) It didn’t help that according to Josh’s sister, who was about three houses behind us her friends, Brendan #2 was hella scared and confused after we left. He was going around to random trick-or-treaters and asking them where we went, thinking we’d been kidnapped or something.
Admittedly my actions were sort of um, less than ideal, but in all honesty I’d probably do the same thing today. The way I saw it, I had two choices. I could’ve spent Halloween with my friends, or I could’ve spent the rest of the night having to explain to this total stranger how, “Those other kids that were here before? Oh yeah, they ran away because they hated you.”
Which would you choose?
(Please say the former.)
While the rest of the night was okay, I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped because I kept worrying that we’d bump into the kid all over again. I wonder what would happen if I bumped into him now? I’ve forgotten what he looked like, but maybe he’s got my face memorized. What if he got super buff over the years and he still holds a grudge? That would not bode well for me.
To help me forget my feelings of shame, I will end this story with a completely unrelated gif from The Simpsons. I’ve been watching that show a lot lately, as you may have guessed.
*Speaking of which, did I ever mention that I was raised Catholic? I’m not a very good catholic (what’s the sabbath again exactly?) but I technically am one. It explains why I’m always feeling guilty about something at any given time.