Editorial: Grape eyeballs and hot dog organs

Photo Courtesy of Raw Pixel

It’s officially spooky season, and sadly The Signal editorial board is a bit too old to go trick-or-treating (at least by society’s standards). So instead, we will take a walk down memory lane, throw ourselves back into the Halloween spirit and recount our most memorable pumpkin and haunted house-filled experiences.


With all the spooky sights and frightening fun, every year Halloween captivates our hearts and our stomachs. I’m sure we all share the same memories of sticking our unsuspecting hands into a bowl of peeled-grape eyeballs and trusting the school carnival’s volunteer moms that the concealed hot dogs covered in slime were indeed human remains. Whether you were the breed to buy your costume or make it at home with Mom, in that special moment the bell rang, releasing you from whatever joke of homeroom you were forced to rally in, you were indeed your true self: a witch, a magician, a vampire, a princess. For once, you could be recognized for who you truly are, even if it may just be a 12-year-old in a princess costume on a sugar high.


We never had a close community in my home county in Effingham, Georgia. But on Halloween, down Brittany Lane close to where I grew up, I truly felt part of one. The way to the actual neighborhood where the street was where we went trick-or-treating was greeted off the highway by a tunnel of overhanging branches. The stars and moon were completely blacked out, the only light coming from our 2001 Camry’s headlights. Once we were in the neighborhood and began the festivities, we would make our way house by house to the famous — or rather infamous — haunted house. As a nine-year-old, I was completely terrified by the murderous clown at the entrance and a polka dot room, where a person would stand flush with the wall waiting for unsuspecting families. Being able to be lost in the magic of Halloween and spending the time with my family, all unified in the venture of being scared, is something I wish I could still do today — and maybe I can.


At age 15, I was in my bed at midnight on Halloween, my costume folded and my covers warm. My anxious eyes focused intensely on the plain ceiling as I fought the urge to sneak out. The compulsion itched inside me, dangerous and alluring. I was convinced Halloween was magical, that this night held some fast secret I was missing in bed. When I locked the backdoor behind me, my body hummed with excitement but my frantic brain asked, “Now what?” The cold crept in my collar and I walked, not going anywhere. I was running into other high school-aged kids, who were out skating or smoking in the park or by the baseball field. The adventure ended when I ran into a loose dog and wasn’t trying to deal with that at 2 a.m.


As a child, I remember associating Halloween with one thing: candy. The sweet satisfying feeling of that last handful of treats filling up my pillow case was the only thing that kept me treading through the brisk winter air after sunset. But, my hard work was always met by my father’s rationale. I’d walk through my front door and reluctantly hand over my pillow case to hear him say, “You can’t eat this much candy.” Then, if I was lucky, I’d be left with ten pieces for the night. I still wish that I could have been able to indulge just once, but I’m thankful for a mouth not plagued by cavities and regret.


When I was younger, I used to get in trouble a lot. I never did anything major, but it was enough for my parents to feel like they had to ground me. One year, I got in trouble for something — probably not doing my homework — so my mom told me I wasn’t allowed to trick-or-treat that year. She knew I wanted to go, so as a punishment she told me to watch all of the other kids and hand out candy at our door. Alas, I handed out candy to all of the kids in my neighborhood and once they were all gone, I grabbed my bag of candy corn, sulked up the stairs and watched the Disney Channel Halloween movie marathon. I won’t lie, it was pretty fun. I mean, why walk around the neighborhood for candy you might not even want when you can literally buy your own bag of candy? Now, I buy a bag of candy corn and have my own movie marathon every Halloween in honor of the year my parents decided to ruin my life.


Growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, under the roof of a Baptist family, I was not allowed to celebrate the “Devil’s Holiday,” aka Halloween. My mom dressed me up once as Blue’s Clues, I think just for the pictures and to say I had a normal childhood. Anyway, I remember my grandpa’s church had a lock-down where my family and anyone else who happened to attend the “family” church spent Halloween night. We locked the doors, prayed and slept on the benches, next to the Psalms books on the back of each seat. As the night grew darker and everyone was sound asleep, there was a tapping noise on the wooden floor, as my little sister pitter-pattered around the church. She lightly woke up everyone to ask to go trick-o-treating and wouldn’t yield until her request was made. To this day we talk about that historic night.


I went trick or treating until I was about 15 years old. I loved the chill in the air, the free candy and the promise of mischief with my best friends as we wandered the streets late into the night. As my friends and I made our rounds on what would be the last year of trick-or-treating, we came to a house with a little old lady. The woman who lived there wasn’t giving out candy, but stuffed animals instead. She invited us in to pick out one we’d like. Like any teens who listen to their parents’ advice on strangers (and on the lookout for a strange adventure), we went right in! She was a bit of a hoarder so there was a lot to look at and even more to talk about. We spent a few hours there keeping her company. Those friends have since faded from my life, but the desire to try new things, talk to new people and make unconventional decisions has long stuck with me from our time together. Needless to say, only the brave took her dirty stuffed animals home in their goodie bag.


I remember one Halloween night in particular that really shook me up. This was when I moved to Salem, Massachusetts, when I was in high school. On Halloween I explored a creepy house with my friends, but there was something off-putting about it. We soon found out it was an old coven of three evil witches that once ruled over Salem. After almost being hurt by the resurrected witches, we found a black cat who helped us steal the witches’ magical spell book. We then ran from the house and tried our best to remain alive until sunrise, which was when the three witches would disintegrate back to dust. Long story short, we survived the night and the witches turned to dust, thankfully. That was a crazy night — good thing this is just the summary of “Hocus Pocus.”