Since it’s almost Halloween, I’ve been carving pumpkins, singing Halloween carols and reading up on all the latest holiday news, fashion and events. It’s safe to say that I’ve been fairly obsessed with it all week, but that’s what this glorious time of year is all about. As I was reading the headlines the other day, I happened upon an article on the importance of Halloween safety. I won’t link to it directly, because I’m about to make fun of it, and don’t want them tracking me down, but I will give you some highlights. Truly, it’s amazing that I managed to survive my childhood at all.
In my younger days, I could never be described as a daredevil, and I never did anything that ended with a trip to the emergency room. However, there were risks involved in my line of work, which was the study of superheroes and Star Wars. It was not uncommon for me to tie on a makeshift cape and jump off of things. And, as Luke Skywalker, it was often necessary for me to employ my grappling hook to swing across inexplicable chasms in the Death Star. My grappling hook, it should be noted, was my own design, consisting of a sharp, rusty gardening tool tied to the end of my jump rope. I was a latchkey kid, walked home from school and could be found riding my bike after dark in the cemetery across the street from my house. So, now you know a little bit about me. Let’s take a look at these Halloween Safety Guidelines.
1. “Choose costumes that are bright and reflective and short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame. Add reflective tape or striping to costumes and treat bags to make children more visible.”
I begged my parents to buy me the Don Post Darth Vader helmet when I was a kid. After Empire, they relented, and I promised to wear it every Halloween, which I did for about three years. The rest of my costume consisted of a black cape, long-sleeved black shirt, black pants and black cowboy boots. I suppose I could have made a reflective chestplate, but didn’t, so I was wearing more black than Johnny Cash. I chose my cape, based on it’s “flowiness,” so it was about six feet long and dragged along behind me, unless I was running across poorly-lit streets.
2. “Remember that masks can hinder or block eyesight. Non-toxic makeup and decorative hats are safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over children’s eyes.”
Did I mention the Darth Vader helmet had dark, tinted plastic for the eyes? Am I to understand that if a child wanted to be Darth Vader today, his (or her) parents would paint his features on or create a decorative Dark Lord of the Sith hat for junior to wear? My helmet had very limited breathing capacity, too, which combined with my asthma, made for a very convincing Darth impersonation.
3. “If your older children are trick-or-treating alone, review their route and agree on a specific time when they’ll return home. When your children return home, sort and check their treats. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.”
I never reviewed a route with my parents before heading out. More often than not, they would drop me off somewhere, then I would make my way home. But in case you think they’re neglectful, my father always insisted on inspecting my loot, claiming about 10% to be dangerous. Never mind that I always found the confiscated candy transformed into a pile of empty wrappers the next morning. They did insist on tossing anything homemade, even if it was from someone we knew. Or especially if it was from someone we knew. I guess my parents reasoned that people who knew me were more likely to want me dead than a stranger would, which kind of makes sense. I wasn’t exactly a popular child.
So, somehow, with my black costume, limited vision and devil-may-care shenanigans, I survived Halloween and never had to wear a single decorative hat to do it. Every year, I decorate the front lawn and driveway of the FBOTU compound for Halloween and proclaim that trick-or-treating is finally making a comeback. Then I’ll get one, maybe two kids, accompanied by grateful parents who you can tell still hold on to their own Halloween memories. The one or two kids get a whole plastic pumpkin full of candy from me, though, just for making the effort. Safety is important, and if I were actually a parent, I would probably be spending this week with a hot glue gun and a hat. I wonder, though, what gets lost, when children are sent out into the world at 18 with no survival skills whatsoever, but covered head-to-toe in reflective tape.