To My Devoted Readers,
This Halloween was just like the others…but slightly different. It is the first Halloween celebrated with an acclaimed, published book under my belt. Therefore, I grew worried that professional commitments and/or priorities would steal time that has annually been delegated to this one holiday. Perhaps Halloween has always appealed to my tastes because for one day I do not look like the “Weirdest Person on Earth.” (I chose to walk around town in my pajamas and dirty t-shirt for this year’s Halloween costume, by the way!!)
I decided to volunteer for a Haunted House created by a neighboring town to raise funding for their town programs. My father has always warned me to be cautious about making too many commitments that are not “priorities.” It is my tendency to make promises that become burdens when the time comes to complete them. Fortunately, I had the wisdom to only volunteer for the haunted house one night as opposed to two consecutive nights.
Four hours in one night was more than enough especially because I ended up crouching in a tiny nook as the Haunted House’s librarian. (Not the most appropriate position for someone of my girth and height). My job was simple. I had to slam a dusty, dilapidated book closed and cry, “No Talking in the Library!!” A haunted house bereft of pyrotechnics and other special effects often relies on the human element to inspire fear. The players who jump out from behind the shadows to jar one’s senses and so forth. Emotions run rampant that are foreign to those of childhood years. Reality seeps into the fantastical like toxic ooze. I am a twenty-eight year old man not associated with the town who is involved in an endeavor mostly populated with children. Perhaps these are the kinds of actions that my father calls, “Asking for trouble.” Unnecessary actions shrouded in good intentions that make oneself more vulnerable toward unfair scrutiny…dirty looks…ridiculous skossup. I mean, gossip. (When I come across a word that does not please me I sometimes misspell it on purpose or transform it into gibberish.) But I WAS invited and those individuals who would harshly judge me are the minority. And chances are very strong they would judge me about something else just as ridiculous.
I had fun and my spine promptly realigned itself after my duties concluded. I worried about uttering an obscenity in the process of being isolated in that corner, but just ended up talking to myself. The cherubic, little girl kept warning me when someone was coming and the adults welcomed me into their fantastical creation. Obviously, I would probably not keep in touch with everybody and they probably have enough friends in their lives. But for those four hours our hearts beat as ONE!
The Haunted House actually took place two days before Halloween. The actual day itself conveniently fell on a Sunday, but was marred by my family’s decision to have their one brunch a year. They showed mercy by allowing me to carve my Jack O’Lanterns in the kitchen as they entertained in the dining room. Whether or not we have Asperger’s, it is not fair to be expected to let everything go. The one thing they put their foot down about is Trick or Treating. (They only let me visit one home of an elderly lady who could use some company). Once again, I let my Jack O’Lantern creations rot ever so slightly after October 31st had lapsed, but acknowledged the passing of the ritual and its completion! I had held on and made it work in a world that has often encouraged “letting go” of the unnecessary and age-inappropriate.