Bargell: Ghostly guilt
Just like clockwork, so arrives the snowstorm before All Hallows Eve. Before we skip straight into a rousing chorus of Jingle Bells, how about Halloween?
Given an upbeat spin, I think Halloween is a fine holiday for kids. I’m not for the scary occult stuff, or sugar overload. Instead, it’s far more about the dressing up and remembering those days when your imagination really could run away with you. I smile watching the kids brandish the glue gun with vigor to create their own versions of birds and beasts. And really, who isn’t a sucker for a baby in a pumpkin suit – as round as the real thing – or a 4-year-old princess in pink?
Some of my fondest memories of Halloween are all about “the haul.” Back in the day when you would come home, empty the pillow case, and realize every single one of the Butterfinger bars was yours – all yours. At least until your older brother showed up and raided the stash.
I also recall learning a more interesting life lesson when my high school trick-or-treating turned into, well, trick-or-terrorizing. Those days when you are far too old to go door to door, but still manage to grab an old sheet, skirt your parents’ questions about just where you’re off to, and fly outside into the spook-filled streets.
Our Halloween pranks typically were innocent enough, a bit of toilet paper here and a few snowball fights there. One year, however, someone showed up with a carton of eggs. Eggs, Halloween and high school kids is not a good combination. Fortunately, my aim was poor, and when I tossed one at an oncoming car it exploded on the pavement nearby. But that second, when the egg slipped from my fingers – and I take full responsibility – our innocent fun took on a different character, one I’m not so proud of.
No, I did not hit my mark, but I knew instantly that I had crossed the line. Then, a helpful friend told me that the police were sure to fingerprint the egg shell and I’d be hearing from the authorities. I won’t say I was gullible, but I lived the next few weeks in fear of a knock on the door with a policeman carrying my eggshells in a plastic baggie. The scene spun out in my head. Dad, of course, would be so disappointed – you see, even though he knew I had no business being out, he still trusted me to do the right thing, given a choice. Plus, his anger that I had disrespected someone’s property surely would mandate several weeks of grounding – it would not matter that I had missed.
As you might guess, there was no knock on our door in the days to come. And, even though the fingerprints did not actually incriminate me, they remained imprinted on my conscience. We all know when we’ve stepped over the line, and have stopped doing what we know is right. It doesn’t just happen on Halloween. As the girls become older I hope we’ve helped them recognize the lines that should not be crossed – when fun becomes mischief, a joke turns bitter or laughter comes at someone else’s expense. Just in case they forget, however, I may let them know their fingerprints are on file.
Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com.
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