I was raised Catholic-ish. My mom was Catholic (although not really that into it), and my dad was a fallen Southern Baptist. I defaulted to my mom’s side and went to mass with her a few times when I was a kid. She thought it’d be good for me, but wasn’t too strict about it.
I loved the architecture. And the choir. The beauty of the sanctuary would keep me awake for a solid fifteen minutes before I’d be rendered comatose, one time even crashing out so hard that I hit my head on the back of the pew in front of me.
I felt horrible, really. But I couldn’t help it.
Later that year, after abandoning the idea of church, I discovered the movie, The Exorcist, and all of a sudden, I was interested in the Catholic church again.
That movie. Terrified me. When the gal’s head started spinning around and she started puking everywhere, I felt my soul being pulled down to hell with her. But I was intrigued.
I wanted. To be. An exorcist.
Wrestling demons and poltergeists out of people?! Are you KIDDING me?!
My desire to pursue the life of an exorcist intensified when I saw the 60-Minute special on real-life exorcisms. It showed actual footage of priests in, I think, South America, reading ancient exorcismic texts in latin, and all of a sudden, the lady in the chair before him would throw her head back and start yelling obscenities.
I was all-in. This was it. Life-path determined at age nine.
My parents told me that if I went to church, I may actually be lucky enough to witness an exorcism. I guess this was their way of motivating me. My mom actually gave me a little Catholic medallion that she said was used in the line of duty by a real-life exorcist.
It was nuts. I dressed like a priest (yes, even to school), carried a Bible with me throughout the day, and shook my medallion in my friends and parent’s faces trying to conjure Satan from their dark souls.
This went on for a couple weeks. I was disappointed, really. Nothing happened… No spinning heads… No pea soup exploding out of people’s mouths… And no exorcisms at church… Before long, the thrill was gone.
As you can probably tell from the above story, I loved Halloween as a kid.
Particularly the late elementary school age.
Dressing up for school (I think I was Freddy Kreuger 3 years in a row — after the exorcist year)… Doing some kind of fun crafty activity (aka no school work). Parading around with friends. Eating lots of candy.
Then, at night, the real adventures begun…
My cousins would come over and our parents would take us to a few different neighborhoods to load up on sweets.
Then, we’d get home and watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, followed by, of course, Nightmare on Elm Street, and cap it off with a little Elvira.
Oh, Elvira… Sorry, where was I?…
Oh, right, Halloween as a kid… It was a night of escape. Of venturing out under streetlights to uncharted streets and front porches. Of attempting to tell scary stories late into the night under forts made of sheets until the wee hours.
This is what I think of when I think of Halloween.
Then, of course, the older we got, the more mischief ensued. From toilet paper to dry ice bombs to ignited paper bags full of dog shit on door steps of neighbors who we deemed particularly lame. At a certain point, we weren’t even dressing up anymore. Just going out and causing mayhem wherever we could find it.
I guess the dream of becoming an exorcist has since fizzled. Plus, I’m not catholic anymore. But I still think it’d be pretty cool. Some people retire and get jobs at golf courses, grocery stores, or in the janitorial field. Maybe I’ll retire into exorcism one day.
I’m not sure what the point of this post is. I guess it’s my ode to All Hallows Eve. To the changing of the seasons. Our connection to adventure, spookyness, and that little bit of mayhem that makes us human.