There comes a time in every child’s life when they still want 40 pounds of candy stuffed into an oversized pillowcase on Halloween night, but they don’t want mom and dad chaperoning them around a few neighborhoods to bring home the haul.
I was about 11 or 12 when I decided I was too cool for the parents to bring me out on Halloween, or they decided they were tired dragging an older adolescent from house to house so he could procure a mountain of candy he was too stingy to share.
Regardless, this was my first, and I think last, Halloween that involved trick-or-treating.
I went out with boys years older than me — sons of one of my dad’s coworkers — who really probably shouldn’t have been trick-or-treating at that age; they probably would have been better off with a “trick-or-beer” approach, as they looked more like adults than cute kids looking for candy.
They brought me out to their neighborhood on the other side of my hometown, which I was unfamiliar with, and we went to a few houses early in the night.
It was pretty standard stuff initially, but sometime during the night they ditched me and went off on their own.
Let me preface the rest of this column with the fact that I am extremely directionally challenged. In my estimation, the GPS is the single greatest thing that ever happened to mankind, even more so than the discovery of penicillin or the invention of the Internet.
Without GPS, I would not be able to find my way to a Walgreens to pick up penicillin to treat a host of ailments or make my way to locations where Internet is available.
But when I was 12, I had no device that allowed access to GPS, so there I was, left abandoned, in the dark, on Halloween night.
I might as well have been in southern China; the other side of my hometown at night was about as foreign to me as the Far East.
At this point, my memories of that night get a little fuzzy. It’s strange how time does that to us sometimes.
So I’m going to take creative license with what I think happened next: A herd of goblins — goblins travel in herds, I’m assuming — attacked.
It was Halloween night, so this explanation makes sense, in my mind.
I was extremely frightened, thinking they would tear me limb from limb or perhaps do something worse, like steal my candy.
Thankfully, a fair maiden riding a radiant white unicorn saved me. The unicorn used its single horn to gorge all the goblins to death; man, was that a sight.
All right, wait; what really happened is coming back to me now.
I frantically ran up and down the block, desperately trying to find the two boys who had left me behind.
If I had been more logical and not so scared of people who were not my immediate family at that age, I would have just went up to a house and asked if one of the residents knew where Wally, my dad’s coworker, lived.
Instead, I just walked around, assuming I’d have to sleep outside that night, using my bag of candy for warmth.
I kept walking, and eventually I found the two boys again.
I acted like nothing had happened, even though my heart had been racing for the 15 or so minutes it took me to find them.
Once we got back to their parents’ house, I swore to myself that if I ever went out on Halloween again in an unfamiliar neighborhood, I’d bring a map in case I got lost for a second time.
Wait; check that — I’m terrible at reading maps. I think I’m going trick-or-treating on my own this year because I now have multiple devices equipped with GPS. I think there’s even an option on one of them that allows the user to bypass roads filled with goblins, too.