Ghosts of Halloween Past

Ted Peterson
Authored by
Ted Peterson

November 1, 2011
11:14 p.m.

You know, people ask me what my favorite holiday is, and I always say it’s my birthday because why would your favorite holiday not be the day dedicated to yourself. Right? But then Christmas is kind of nice with the tree, and presents, and (some of) the songs, plus the time off. Which is always nice. The 4th of July has fireworks and happens during the hottest time of the year, which I appreciate in a holiday.

But I’ve always thought I should be the Halloween guy.

For a pretty happy, marbles-together more or less guy, I’m a morbid fellow. I can talk about Jack the Ripper and modern serial killers to an alarming degree of detail. Possibly prodded by me, my brother and I wrote seventy-eighty gazillion horror screenplays, including a couple that were good enough to make us a few bucks.

The point is, I can be dark if I want to.

But the closest I got to being really enthusiastic about Halloween occurred in about 1980. I was ten, and it was the year that the second Stars Wars movie came out, and if you weren’t talking about Darth Vader being Luke’s father, you were talking like or talking about the new character, who was eclipsing Harrison Ford in charisma and raw, animal sex appeal: Yoda.

Passing by the coolest costume shop in Dayton, Ohio, I saw the mask of Yoda too amazingly perfect to be believed. My mom said I could be Yoda, if I promised to be Yoda for the next 20 years. I readily accepted that deal for that mask.


I kept the mask sacrosanct until the day of Halloween. Meanwhile, my mom pulled out her sewing machine and put together a (very scratchy) robe for me to wear. On the day of Trick-or-Treating, I put my Yoda mask on … and I couldn’t breathe. Literally.

That night, my amazing mom sewed together a wizard’s hat and I wore the sack robe and that was that.

Over the year that followed, I had some other good costumes. The last year I went Trick-or-Treating, I wore a smear of white under my nose and my dad’s old navy officer’s uniform, and carried my dog in my arms as the Old Sea Cap’n. Would have been more effective if that dog weren’t a toy poodle. In college, my fraternity little sister and I were going to be Archie and Edith Bunker, until she tried on the house dress we bought at Goodwill, and, with her boobs, it turned out to be too sexy (as in too tight around the D-cup) for Edith. So I was Edith and she was Archie. My first and only time in drag, and it wasn’t so glamorous.

On the other hand, on a Halloween six years ago, I met up with Ian on our third date. He was dressed as the devil. My housekeeper the next day surveyed the splattering of blobs of red latex that covered my condominium, the remnants of what I had torn off of him, and was afraid her employer was a madman.

My mixed feelings about Halloween were totally unmixed Monday night.

Ian got Mikey into his Buzz Lightyear costume, but when I first saw him, he (Mikey, not Ian) was scared. We were meeting at our friends’ house, who had done their place up with lots of cobwebs and scary characters in the yard, and it was great, but only if you’re into creepy. Mikey clung to Papa and then to Daddy, and gradually climbed down when there was pizza to be had.

Very slowly, we followed the the other kids out, and across the street to our first house. By our fourth house, Mikey figured out the routine, and began running down the street, bag open, yelling, “Trick or Treat!”

Then he became concerned that the girls might find the experience as scary as he did. At one house, which was definitely decorated for the older crowd, the girls ran screaming and Mikey followed. He went to Annabelle, who, though three months older, was still the youngest of the girls, and talked to her:

“You were scared?”


“Me too. But I protect you.”

And he took Annabelle’s hand, and held it until she bolted away when she saw a house promising more candy.

He took three candy bars out of his bag, and brought them to the candy-giver, after Annabelle left. He actually replaced candy people were giving out.

Something I have realized about Mikey lately is that he may be small, and not quite speak articulately, and his room might be very messy, but he is inherently a wise, noble creature.  Who can lift up X-wings out of the swamp with the power of his mind!

No, wait, I’m sorry, I’m thinking of Yoda again.


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