“Halloween always reminds me of you!” says my mother’s old friend Luanne whenever we meet, and there is always a clear shade of worry in her eyes when she says it. This is utterly unsurprising. I was a weird kid.
I blame all of this weirdness (AND MORE!) on the fun fact that I grew up in what I to this day believe to be a thoroughly haunted house (and I dare you to spend a night in the old unfinished basement and not come to a similar conclusion). It was really rather charming, in a horrible way. Ergo, Halloween! To say I’ve been obsessed with it since birth is an exercise in gross understatement.
I eat horror movies for breakfast, my greatest role models growing up were Endora and The Wicked Witch (I’d gladly give my left nut for an army of airborne monkeys and, oh! The orgasmic joys of a flying broom…), and even now my bathroom is decorated in wall-to-wall Ouija Boards. Vintage, of course. It’s just the wicked way I roll.
When I was five years old I was even convinced that I alone had invented the Halloween party. I was eating a novelty Frankenstein-green ice cream cup on my grandmother’s porch when it suddenly hit me. “I know! I’ll invite Kevin and Keith and Jenny and Joey and we’ll wear our costumes and play scary games and I’ll decorate with ghosts and spider webs and junk! What a great idea!”. And so it was done, and from that moment, Halloween season became an endlessly-anticipated mega-production and my own gore-drenched raison d’etre.
All I really wanted to be when I grew up was Dracula. I was obsessed with all things vampire. (They were dead, sure, but they didn’t stink and leave rotting clumps of themselves on the sofa like zombies did, or do pointless tricks like make the toilets overflow as did the foolish ghosts in Amityville Horror–vampires had class, thank you, and nifty accents). To this end, my indulgent mother made for me the loveliest black velvet cape. Big mistake.
That cape became my satanic security blanket–if I was home, I was wearing it, sometimes I even slept in it, and once or twice it even managed to follow me to school. But never was it more gloriously worn as when I was lying in my coffin…
There was an ancient wooden chest–a trousseau of sorts, no idea where it came from–that lived in my parent’s aforementioned haunted basement when i was small. My little six year old self fit into that old trunk perfectly, if i bent my knees just so, and when I was feeling particularly Dracula-like, I’d brave the downstairs ghosts to cross my hands across my chest, corpse-style, and lie in it, only to arise with ghoulish drama from it moments later. Practice makes perfect.
In the farthest, largest room of the old basement was my mother’s ceramics studio, from which she gave ceramics lessons for a time. The classes were attended by all of her friends, including Louanne, and was really just an excuse to get them all together.
Now the old trunk that served as my coffin was far removed from my mother and her friend’s crafty shenanigans, way on the other side of the basement. But the shelf upon which the students stored their ceramic projects while they were in process was located directly across from my ersatz coffin, approximately five full feet away.
One fine late October afternoon, my mother’s ceramics class was in full swing. My father had come home from the office for lunch, and he was upstairs, in the kitchen, enjoying his tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich, as usual. I however, was in my coffin.
Deep in my very best Dracula mode, my keen vampire senses detected a presence lurking just outside my box. Rudely woken from my hellish slumber, I stirred creepily in my vampire grave and slowly creaked open the lid an inch or two to peek through the crack. It was a woman. Louanne. She had clearly wandered into my lair from my mom’s ceramics class. Her back was to me. Foolish mortal!
When she squatted down low to get whatever she was working on from the bottom shelf, Draculadrian saw his chance!
I carefully and slowly (so as not to make the slightest sound) lifted the lid from my coffin and rose in perfect, stiff, Nosferatu fashion. I turned my head and regarded my prey with an evil vampire grin. I crawled slowly, loathsomely from my box, positioned myself behind her in my very best undead-stalker pose…AND POUNCED!
I landed on my victim’s back, threw my arms around her neck, and BIT!
Louanne screamed like a broken banshee!
She jumped up like a cork from a champagne bottle in shock and alarm–with little vampire Adrian still attached like some blood-sucking ginger tick–and screamed and screamed and spun wildly, trying to throw me off. I bit down even harder and held on for dear undead life!
Louanne was thrashing, trying to dislodge me, when my mother and the rest of the class came running to investigate the commotion. Louanne finally managed to pry me loose and fling me from her neck, but no more had I hit the floor that I sprung back up again, hissed at her once, and in a dizzying blur of red hair and black velvet cape, I flew up the stairs, through the kitchen, past my bewildered father sitting wide-eyed with half a cheese sandwich hanging from his face, dashed into the blessed sanctuary of my bedroom, and quickly locked the door. I am sure I was punished soundly, but I’ve blessedly blocked out the details…
Yes, many people think of Halloween when they think of me. I hear it all the time. But Louanne’s got the neck-scars to prove it.