I totally blame the fact that I'm not super into Halloween as an adult on my parents and the fuss they made over the holiday when I was a kid in the '90s. In the movies, Halloween was this free-for-all festival where kids got the chance to dress exactly like their favorite charters and run around town with their friends like lunatics, collecting pounds of candy. In the movies, it's a night where kids get to break every rule. They get to stay up late and dress however they want and eat whatever they want and run around being the little terrors they typical have to repress. So that's what I was expecting: a night of sucrose-infused mayhem and imagination.
But that's not really how Halloween panned out. My parents had a lot of rules. There were costume restrictions. There were trick-or-treating hours. There were candy inspections. Halloween as a kid in the suburbs in the '90s was nothing like the movies. Parents literally took candy from babies. So while it might have looked like a lot of fun in pictures, it was more stressful than it was fun. If you grew up in the '90s with strict parents, you might share these traumatizing memories that totally ruin Halloween for you, even today:
Back in the '90s, it was fairly common for parents to make their kids costumes. There weren't as many cheap warehouses like there are now, so if you wanted to be Snow White, your parents weren't going to pay $45 to get the official costume from the store, they're going to make a half-ass version of it with clothes sourced from the give-away pile and the local fabric store. You'd end up looking like a sad vague attempt at your favorite character and you'd have to constantly explain to people who you were.
Unmarked Candy Getting Confiscated
The first thing my mother did when I got home with my loot was go through it and throw way all the unmarked candy. Anything in a plastic or paper baggy without a seal went straight into the trash. My mother was convinced that the old ladies who just wanted to get rid of their extra Snackwells cookies were actually trying to give us meth or poison us.
Shoving Layers Under The Costume
Picking a cute girlish costume was never a good idea. These store-bought costumes were typically thin and nonsensical for kids in the brisk suburbs. Instead of just letting me freeze, like I campaigned to do, so that I could look cute, my mother made me put layers of long underwear under the costume. I'd look like the Hulk wearing a princess gown.
Sweating Under Puffer Jackets
As if the layers were not enough, my parents wouldn't let me leave the house without also adding a huge puffer jacket on top of the look. They'd tell me that I could take it off if I got too warm, but they'd refuse to carry it. So I got stuck looking like a princess spent the night in Alaska without her luggage.
Being A Part Of That 5 P.M. Crew
To avoid the risk of me hanging out with the older kids, who might be up to "no good" (aka "fun"), my parents made me go trick-or-treating when it was still light out. People were barely putting out their candy dishes out and I was already waiting on their front stoop with my sad plastic bucket out. Just as the laughing and screaming big kids trickled into the streets, I was ushered off to bed.
Without fail, every year, I'd get egged. Older kids would wait around behind trees for unsuspecting little kids like myself, to egg. I'd laugh and pretend I thought it was funny and was in on the joke, but I was mostly terrified and took it very personally.
Limited Candy Consumption
My parents would let me collect pounds of candy, but I'd only be allowed to pick two pieces to eat when I got home. They kept the stash and rationed it so that I wouldn't get too hyper. What was the point of letting me collect candy all night if they weren't going to let me go to town on it? It was such a tease. I'd have to wake up at the crack of dawn to steal back some candy and eat it before breakfast.
Egging was a pastime for the big kids, but stink bombs were the work of the teenagers. They'd wait until we were all in an enclosed area, ravenous for a big pot of candy, and then they'd toss the bomb. We'd all go home smelling like rotten eggs, feeling too nauseous to even want to touch the Twix bars we fought so hard to get.
This semi-mandatory event was a parade of humiliation. We'd wear our costumes to school and throughout the day, our face paint would melt, our wings would sag and our spandex costumes would collect stains. Then at the end of the day, when we looked like puddle versions of ourselves, we'd have to walk around the halls in a procession parade for all the parents to take pictures of. It was embarrassing, it was miserable, but sometimes there were sugar cookies with bats and cats on them which was a perk.
Images: Courtesy of Kaitlyn Wylde, Giphy