Last night we went to check out a local school’s Halloween production that took place in the woods. I always think that waiting in the line of these things is the most fun. I was in no hurry. I was content to breathe in the October chilled air, the smell of burning wood and grilled hot dogs. From deep within the woods, we heard a chainsaw go off at intervals, the screams of little girls. We heard canned Halloween sound effects blaring from the loudspeaker. We heard the woman behind us cough repeatedly.
I enjoyed the feeling of layers—long socks, long sleeves, and the zip sweater that was finally being worn with true purpose—to keep warm—and not just because I found it stylish. I enjoyed the feeling of the freshly fallen leaves crunching vigorously beneath my boots. I enjoyed the feeling of anticipation.
For me, Halloween has always been about anticipation. Sure, trick-or-treating was awesome, but those thirty days leading up to it were pure energy: daydreaming of costumes, watching scary movies, and dancing to a record of the Monster Mash in my room. I was a graveyard smash.
This is why I still countdown to Halloween. I may not be able to collect a half ton of candy from strangers, but I can still anticipate. And do the mash.
We lumbered towards the entrance of the woods, step by step. I enjoyed watching people. They were mostly families associated with the middle school, and I remembered that middle school was awkward. Every kid walked with an importance, a flair, a high-drama, if only to buy a bag of chips at the snack tent. Girls chattered in pink headbands. Boys smirked behind gorilla masks. A fat kid in shorts paced the length of the line a few times. There’s always a fat kid in shorts. He looked like a tree stump.
We thought it might be tame, since it was a Catholic school gig, but at least it didn’t attract asshole college students or scary gangs of high-schoolers. The line was filled with mostly families. I expected nothing more than a bunch of people plodding through the woods while middle schoolers hyped up on Red Bulls jumped at us. And I would have been completely satisfied with that.
But you know what? These Catholic kids must have had some divine inspiration from Satan, because the Wicked Woods was crazy. There were tents and stunts set up along the trail, and the scenes were anything but tame. Among them was a electrocution scene, a decapitated head scene, a circus tent with ten-foot-tall psychotic clown puppets, and a hanging with a noose and executioner. The middle schoolers were having the time of their lives shrieking and murdering each other.
At the end, there was even a spinning vortex tunnel. This was no dinky theater-geek middle school crap. It was professional-looking and pretty scary—for the little kids, I mean. I wasn’t scared, but then again, nobody was coming at me. The actors were jumping at the easy pickings, and the little kids in the our group were easily developing phobias for the rest of their lives. It was a sincere, creepy, fun night.
And with that I say, Happy Halloween. Now, whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?