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Now…it’s time to unveil my Halloween memory.
My grandfather made it his life goal to terrify me each Halloween, and each year I both anticipated and dreaded seeing what he would do. It never failed: no matter how prepared I was, he managed to scare me right out of my costume. (I wonder if he was keeping his skills sharp in case the opportunity to steal candy from the little kids ever came up, as I’m sure it must have in his own youth.)
The year I turned twelve, I was trick-or-treating with two of my BFFs, and we resolved that together, we would finally best my grandfather. We made my mom park the car far away from their country house, so he wouldn’t be alerted by the sound of the engine. (The walk through the dark to my grandparents’ house probably had us on edge, but at the time, it seemed sensible.)
Arm in arm, we strode up the driveway. Well, I tried to stride, but our human centipede insisted on moving slow. With Gina clutching my left arm and Colleen holding my right, I finally felt like Grandpa wouldn’t be able to scare me.
It was a perfect Halloween night, which in Michigan means it wasn’t snowing. The moon was out, shrouded with fog, and the air was cold enough to make you shiver. Halfway up the long, gravel drive, I spotted something moving inside the house.
“He’s waiting inside.” I announced with confidence. We all relaxed, starting to chatter with anticipation of how we would try scaring him. We never saw the figure that moved behind the pine tree and sprang out at us with an inhuman scream.
We all shrieked in response, terrified. If our arms hadn’t been linked, I think Gina might have tried to run down the driveway and escape into the night, but as it was, we were frozen with fear, pulling on each other while my grandfather busted a gut in front of us.
Oh, I was so mad at him! I loved being scared each year, but we’d worked so hard NOT to be surprised.
That may have been the last year he and I played our annual game of Halloween chicken, and over the years that have passed, that’s the thing I miss most about my childhood Halloweens. I still love to be scared, but I want to feel remotely safe in the midst of my fear: Grandpa always understood that.
Either that, or he just loved messing with his oldest grandchild.
Trick or Tweet!