Every time I hear this music I am taken back to my childhood. It is 1978 and I am a precocious nine year-old boy. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I look forward to celebrating it every year. I have a neighbor who lives across the street. His name is Sam and we walk to and from school together.
Some days I go over to his house and we play together until dinner time. Sam has an older brother named Harry who knows much more than we do. In the years that come he and some of his friends will be the guys who educate me about girls. They have magazines that they’ll show us. Magazines with lots of pictures of naked women, but that is a post for a different day.
For now I am focused on the memories of the 9 year-old boy who watched horror movies at Sam’s house. Good old Sam who loved the horror movies and had a room full of models that he would build. Plastic replicas of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Frankenstein and more decorate the walls. When his mom is home we often work together to assemble the latest model. Sometimes Harry suggests that we try sniffing the glue that we use to build the models, but I don’t know why. It smells funny but I am afraid it will hurt me so I don’t do it.
Most of the time Sam’s mom isn’t around so we watch television. We look for the horror movies because those are Sam’s favorites. I like some of them, but not all. I can’t tell him that the reason that I don’t like some of them is because they scare me. If it wasn’t for Harry I might mention that they bother me, but I don’t dare when he is around. He loves to torment us and I refuse to let him call me a baby. Sometimes he hits us but I never cry because I won’t let him know that it hurts.
Time passes and the nine year-old boy I was has a birthday or maybe two. It is hard to remember exact details, but I know that one day I am at Sam’s and they have a machine that you can use to watch movies. One day we watch Halloween. I know the music from the commercials, but it isn’t until I see that movie that I realize that it is kind of scary.
For a long time after that I find myself worrying about whether someone is hiding in the bushes or in the closet in my room. It doesn’t take much for my active imagination to start thinking about possibilities. Many years later a 21 year-old man who hates the dark will punch another guy in the mouth. It happens very quickly. The 21 year-old is walking in the dark and all of a sudden he is surprised when someone jumps out at him.
He doesn’t feel badly for hitting this other man, even though he knows him. It was an accident, a mistake and something that probably shouldn’t have happened. But in many ways it did because a kid who was scared silly by a movie felt powerless to defend himself. So as he grew older he forced himself to learn self defense as he couldn’t take the idea of not knowing how.
Twenty years later the man who hit the other man in the mouth is a father. He’ll take his kids trick or treating because they love going and he takes pleasure watching their joy. But at the same time he’ll be scanning the surrounding areas for danger because it is Halloween and part of a father’s job is to make like the Secret Service.
It will probably be fine and his concerns will be for naught, but he can’t help himself because somewhere inside him that nine year-old still lives.