A HALLOWEEN SPECIAL
Maury's Least Successful Halloween Costume
(His Mom Didn't Get Her Money Back Either!)
Bad news for Maury always
comes on Halloween night
By MAURY ALLEN
I hate Halloween.
I hated it as a kid. I hated it as a working sportswriter. I hate it as a supposedly retired freelance writer.
I hate Halloween.
It all began when I was a kid in the late 1930s, about six or seven years old, when my mother dressed me up as a little Charlie Chaplin clown and marched me around our Brooklyn neighborhood for free candy.
The fake mustache tickled my nose and the hairs dribbled into my mouth. The little bowler hat always fell off my head. The pants were too damn long and my baseball cards fell out of my torn jacket.
At James Madison High School in Brooklyn some kid would steal my looseleaf book or put gum on my seat as a Halloween joke. On any other day those tyrannical acts would result in a schoolyard rumble. On Halloween you had to take it as a good sport. Good sport, my ass. Oh yeah, Ive always hated gum, too.
I was in the Army in the early 1950s stationed in Camp Drake outside of Tokyo, Japan. I was finally making it with this little secretary from our Stars and Stripes office on October 31.
Just when I was about to hit a grand slam--my sex life has always revolved around the game--she quietly asked me in her newly learned English if I could explain what Halloween meant.
A jug of Viagra couldnt have changed the moment. I hit a dribbler. I hate Halloween.
In the late 1950s I worked for a newspaper in Levittown, Pennsylvania. I was in love. This adorable thing invited me to a Halloween party. I knew it could be trouble. It was that damn day again. She was too cute to refuse.
All went well until we started bobbing for apples. I was in my 20s by then and it seemed stupid but you know, it was that good sport bullshit. I put my head in the bowl, got an apple into my teeth, dropped the damn thing on the edge of the ceramic container, bit down hard and cracked a tooth on the plate.
"Nah, we're not trick-or-treatin'.
We're just here to kick Maury's butt!"
My little lovely went home with some tall, handsome advertising executive from the paper. I went to the dentist.
I stayed clear of the stupid day--Ill never call it a holiday--through my early sportswriting career at Sports Illustrated, the New York Post, a marriage to my beautiful Janet, two great kids, a house on a hill and all that jazz.
Then came the crusher, the coup de gras, the last straw, the lockup to my attitude about the 31st of October in any year at any place.
My daughter Jennifer was eight and her mom dressed her up in a beautiful princess outfit, pretty, short and pink. All went well. We hit a dozen neighborhood houses, she collected candies she loved and giggled through the mild twilight.
My son Teddy was six, dressed in his favorite superhero outfit, Underdog, with the animal filling his chest, the shirt tucked tight in his pants and the cape swirling in the late fall breeze.
We live in a hilly suburb in Westchester County about 15 miles north of New York City. Few cars around. Clean houses. Friendly people. Tons of other kids filling the street.
Be a good sport. Take the kids around for an hour or so. After all, the beautiful wife has to stay home and answer the door for the urchins, give them the candy and watch them scowl when we dont fill the pumpkins with enough stuff.
Now Teddy was four or five homes down the street from our house. He was moving up the stairs to next conquest. The houses around here have a dozen steps to the mailbox, pissing off the postman, and another dozen to the front doors. Thats where the candy is.
He made the first section with ease as I watched proudly at the bottom with another bored father. Then I heard this horrible howl. I looked up and saw a half dozen kids racing down the stairs. No Teddy.
I started up. Underdog was down for the count.
I made it, finally, to the top level of the house and saw my beautiful boy sprawled out at the entranceway. I bent down to pick him up and could see the blood rushing down his face.
Some other kid - may the culprit rest in hell--had stepped on the Underdog cape, knocked Teddy from his feet and watched him crack his head on the cement.
Daddy, get my pumpkin, he cried as I lifted him up.
I slid the handle of the pumpkin under my arm, got down the steps safely, ran a 10 second hundred to our house and rushed inside with our bleeding boy.
Janet was calm and controlled. She put a wet cloth over his face, grabbed a large piece of ice for the cut and ordered me to the car.
We drove quickly to the emergency room of the neighborhood hospital. We knew the way. A year earlier we had been there with our daughter, Jennifer, after I dropped her in the park after throwing her high in the air. Bad hands.
They put 12 stitches above Teddys eye. He never missed a day of school. I think the scar helped him with the girls. He always had a different dramatic story to tell.
Well, that stupid day is near again. My grandchildren, Amanda, Matthew and Ted and Sheryls one year old Ben will be out there.
Me? Ill be out for the evening at a good movie and a good dinner. I hate the stupid day. My house will be locked tight. Any kid who throws eggs at the new paint job risks a lawsuit.
Oh yeah. I once told this tale to a pal. He said he bit into some hard, chewy candy on Halloween. The back tooth went. Five hundred bucks.
All Saints Day. Nothing but a sin.
© 2002 by Maury Allen. The Maury Allen caricature is ©2001 by Jim Hummel. The cartoons are from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA.