Age 0-3: I am dressed as a frog. I am a quiet baby, I don't say much, no one realizes I'm petrified. Someone makes me touch a doll.
Age 5-6: Everyone now knows I'm terrified. I wear extravagant costumes stitched and molded and stuffed by my mother who never backs down, even when she should. My parents cover the dining room table in torn velvet and spooky lace. I let it cover my face, only peaking out to see the trick-or-treaters come to the door. They scare me too. I hide again. I watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on VHS and feel better.
Age 7: I'm dressed as Flareon. The boys in my elementary school dressed as Ash Ketchum chase me and throw rocks and bark chips at me and call them Pokéballs. I hide behind my mom but my costume makes me bigger than her. I avoid the playground the next day and reorganize my Pokémon cards in order of cuteness before organizing them back chronologically.
Age 8: I am a pink and purple seahorse. I can't run due to the tail. Mom eats all the Almond Joys, Dad eats anything with peanuts. I stuff an entire Kit Kat Bar in my mouth.
Age 9: A costumed goon jumps out of a coffin and scares the kids ahead of me in the trick-or-treating line for the pink house with the big front yard. I turn to my mom and say, "One year I'll go up there and get my candy, but not this year." I never do.
Age 10-13: I help Mom set up the Halloween decorations because I'm tall enough to hang the ripped cloths and lights. The dining room table features tarnished silver dishes and candle holders. Candy is everywhere, the creepier the better. Gummy eyes and brains plated with fake blood accents, a squash and radicchio pizza completes the set. My entire family comes over like they do every year, we eat a lot and everyone raids my candy stash. We wrap the front steps with caution tape when we're out of candy so no one can reach the door.
Age 14: The final trick-or-treat of my life takes place on the less taken street. At the first house a kind looking grandma gives us Smarties... But also rape whistles. Which she demonstrates.
Age 15: I hand out candy for the first time for a full night. I tell the little ones how cute they are and tell the older ones riddles. Most of them grab the candy and run.
Age 16: A grandfather rented a pony for his granddaughter, a princess, and his grandson, a cowboy, to ride from door to door. I let the horse chew my hair. Everyone kind of ignores the kids because there is a goddamn mini horse in the front yard. My dad hopes he can collect manure for his garden later.
Age 17: I've finally figured out the best way to scare kids. I wear a plastic glove that looks like a witch's hand, put a candy in the palm, and shuffle my hand through the mail slot. When a kid reaches I grab their arm. I made two kids cry and a 16 year old swears to never come back. His friend asks if he pissed himself. Since he doesn't answer I assume that means "Only a little."
Age 18: I'm handing out candy to a cute kid dressed as a fairy, her dad starts hitting on me. I stand in shock. My friend asks if that really just happened, I nod and say "I think so," and cringe. When the kids over 16 come to the door I chase them off the porch and refuse them candy. I throw a Dum Dum at the one that didn't even bother to wear a costume. A new mom with her baby gets a fistful of chocolate.
Age 19: I'm in Olympia crying because I hate it so much. My best friend says it could be worse and I blubber "How could it be worse? I'm stuck in a smelly dorm on Halloween with a drum circle outside!" I am inconsolable and buy my own candy the next day at the Halloween fire sale at Wallgreens.
Age 20: I pout alone in my room in a Pikachu onesie and demand everyone leave me the hell alone while watching Shaun of the Dead.
Age 21: I work at a chain restaurant and bar as a waitress. I get stuck with the Halloween shift. I'm in the Pikachu onsie and my boss, dressed as Elvis, jokes that if I take it off he'll fire me. He leaves the trainee manager in charge and heads out for a night of galavanting. Later in the night I see a girl collapse outside. I put down the beer bucket in my hand and run out. I ask the four people around her what happened and they say she's had too much alcohol. She's dress for weather fifty degrees warmer that this. Two of the girls don't know her and wanted to try to help, they're dressed as the Blues Brothers, the other is the fallen girl's boyfriend, who is borderline hysterical. I grab her and start carrying her in my arms into the bar. I can barely lift her but I try and the posse follow. I yell for the bus boy, who is six feet and all muscle. As I struggle to pull her he picks her up for me and runs with her to the bathroom. I follow while the manager yells I can't do this, I'm as good as fired. I usher everyone out of the bathroom except her friends and hold her up on the floor feeding her water slowly, wet cloth on her forehead. I call an ambulance. Her boyfriend is crying, their dorm won't let her in drunk. I hold his hand and say she's going to be okay, I'll take care of her. A women walks in and tries to get a picture of us on the floor I rip the phone out of her hands and tell her I'll rip her throat out if she tries that in my bar before giving it back. The other waitresses cover my tables and push my manager back from ripping the drunk girl from me and throwing her back on the street. I hold her and keep saying, "You're going to be okay, I'm right here. You're going to be okay. I've got you." One of the waitresses finds out that a customer at her table is a nurse and rushes her to the bathroom to help me. She checks her pulse and checks to make sure she hasn't bumped her head and helps keep her awake.
The Ambulance comes and I hand her over and put my arm around the boyfriend and say, "You did the right thing, you got help, you didn't leave." He gets in the ambulance with her. All my old tables ask if I'm okay, I'm shaking but say I am. One of them hugs me. Someone sends me a shot.
My next shift I'm called into the office. My boss is not dressed as Elvis. He says what I did was the most irresponsible thing he's ever heard, that having a minor in the bar drunk could have got them shut down, that the bar could have gotten bad publicity, that I made customers uncomfortable, that I undermined my manager that night, that he wanted to fire me, but then he got an email from corporate. The boyfriend wrote a message in an effort to find me to the regional managers. He said I was with them and helped them and that he never expected someone to do that for him and his girlfriend. That he wanted me to know that I changed everything for them that night and that he considered me a hero. My boss says the higher ups were ecstatic and told him he should be proud to have someone like me on board. He said that he realized he is.
An hour later we share a quesadilla and he says again "I'm proud of you."
Age 22: The Pikachu onsie prevails and in 7/11 three different people take pictures with me. Then four more at the pizza joint down the street.
Age 23: We're sharing Halloween stories in a writing class. One of my classmates was with the girl that night two years ago. She enthuses to the class, "Gasp was a hero. She pushed her manager out of the way and carried this girl. She saved her life." Everyone looks at me, I kind of shrug. "You would have done the same." She says not to say that, because I did it.
Age 24: I teach my partner how to carve a pumpkin. We laugh as we pull out the guts.