Halloween used to be one of my favorite times of the year.
Not the 2013 version of hide your black cat and inspect the treat bag.
That's not my Halloween.
Unfortunately that's the version children are faced with due to the actions of some in our society, and it disgusts me.
The Halloween I love and miss is the innocent time of hard plastic masks held to young noggins with thin nylon cords, making faces sweaty from the built-up condensation due to the breathing holes which were always too small.
The costume from my Halloween was purchased in a square box with a clear plastic window. I knew that magical costume would help me bring home a haul of popcorn balls, caramel apples, full-sized candy bars and enough wax lips, fangs and orange Wowee whistles to last for weeks. No house was free from our neighborhood costumed horde.
However, today's children are forced to go to church parking lots or neighborhood shopping areas for "trunk or treat," for safety reasons.
I hate that people have ruined the cherished holiday.
My Halloween was a time before we knew there were real monsters lurking in shadows who could do unspeakable things to people.
Growing up, the only monsters on Halloween were the families who handed out toothbrushes, pennies, boxes of raisins and those huge brown soft-candy peanuts. I wanted wax whistles, fangs, lips, Dubble Bubble, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops and little red packs of Indian pumpkin seeds -- I still want them.
During my Halloween, we were able to walk around the block without fear of being invited into a home and never coming out. Now a child cannot walk to the corner store alone without a parent watching every step.
My All-Hallows'-Eve was full of wonderment, parades and scary adventure.
Allow me, if you will, to share a few of my favorite memories.
Our neighbors used to decorate their homes for Halloween. One of my stops was a home with a large cardboard box on the porch. The box, maybe 4-feet tall, was decorated with holes and a variety of trinkets.
We were encouraged to reach our hands into one of the holes and pull from the "worms" a selection of candy. To an 8-year-old's imagination, the warm spaghetti noodles felt like worms waiting to pull me deeper into the hole. That was freaky, but incredibly fun.
We loved dressing up for the neighborhood pillaging and grade school class parties. Now, some schools have banned Halloween costumes so no one will be offended.
What? Who will be offended? Frankenstein? Spider-Man? A zombie?
One of my all-time favorite costumes was a uniform I borrowed from my Uncle Mike when I was in sixth grade.
Uncle "Mighty Mike" Taylor (yes, Mighty Mike was his skating moniker) was a professional roller derby skater for the Tri-City Bucks. His team wore shiny blue, padded pants with a gold stripe down the leg. The jersey was white, with blue and gold numbering. I even had arm and knee pads and a white "jammer" helmet. As we marched around the school that afternoon (I wheeled) for the Halloween parade, the metal wheels of my black street roller skates hit every pebble and slipped into every sidewalk crack. But I loved it.
And no one was offended.
Other favorite costumes growing up was a headless man, a football player and a young hippie wearing a "make love, not war" cut-off seat shirt.
However, I also had my share of Halloween wardrobe malfunctions.
One year I wanted to be a mummy. So, my mommy decided to help me fulfill my frightful dream. Strips of sheets were torn, wrapped around me and diaper-pinned in place. As I left home I knew I was going to be hit with my pre-adolescent posse.
The mummy plan started to die as I walked toward school. One leg started to unravel. I tried to twist the strips, to keep them in place -- not a great idea. As I tightened one area, another section would unravel. About halfway to school I knew it was a losing battle and took my broken heart home.
Another time I was a Dracula.
Now, no matter how impressive you think a vampire costume will look with greased back long hair -- do not, let me stress, do not, use any kind of petroleum-based jelly. No matter how much you wash, brush, comb, and repeat, the substance will need to wear off naturally. It takes about two weeks.
Perhaps I'm looking at Halloween and the changes through the eyes of a jaded adult who reads, hears and often times writes about the worst society has to offer.
I hope the modern version, while more cautious for this generation, is just as fun as it was for mine. I hope all the little ghosts, goblins, princesses and superheroes out there have a wonderfully safe and bountiful Halloween.
Now, if you see some big kid knocking at your door, wearing a press pass and slightly longer than normal gray hair, toss him some wax lips, a Tootsie Pop or a few pieces of Dubble Bubble gum -- and try to guess who he is.