The Grinch Who Stole Halloween (And Other Holiday Crimes and Oddities)
Short comedy/adventure story By: Maureen Friedman
I felt like Charlie Brown when he gets invited to a Halloween party, and then is told that he must have been put on the "wrong list." After a streak of bad Halloweens, including a year when my wallet and IPod were stolen out of my purse at a party and a year when I bought an expensive non-refundable costume only to have all my party options magically disappear, I was ready for a good time. Even if that meant celebrating on a Sunday night, Mischief Night to be exact, instead of actual Halloween, which was cruelly on a Monday this year. No, this year I was going to have a good time, because who ever said that only kids and promiscuous teens could enjoy Halloween?
This was my attitude after my friend Lacey, and her boyfriend Tom, invited my husband and I to go to Fright Fest with them at Six Flags America. FINALLY I could wear last year's costume! And to make the deal even sweeter, this Halloween event didn't involve getting smashed, hit on, or (hopefully) sick. Just some good old wholesome scary fun dressed up with friends and my man. But I soon came to realize that I had been put on the wrong Halloween list.
Our adventure began like most do for young Americans, driving on the highway, a bit behind schedule, looking on our GPS for an enormous church. Well, maybe not that last part. You see, in order to avoid paying $30 for two cars to park at Six Flags, we were meeting Lacey and Tom in the parking lot of a nearby church which we were told we "couldn't miss."
"Supposedly we can't miss this place, it's called something like the John F. Kennedy Church of Camelot and it should be coming up on the right soon...holy crap...." I trailed off at this point because as the church came into view, we discovered that it was bigger than a Super Walmart decorated for Christmas, and twice as gaudy.
Needless to say we easily found our friends because the church truly could not be missed, although I must admit it left me dubious about the safety of Lacey's car in its parking lot.
Once inside the gates of the Six Flags parking lot we quickly took our chances perusing the spaces close to the entrance of the park. Thinking ourselves quite fortunate, we spotted a group of trendy teenagers (3 boys and 1 girl) walking back towards their car after a full day's fun on roller coasters. We hovered nearby with our blinker on, obviously waiting for them to vacate their prime parking spot. But they didn't drive away. No, instead they proceeded with the following:
Upon entering the car, someone in the back seat (presumably the girl) removed her blonde hair extensions and hung them on the rear view mirror. Although this was odd, we continued to wait. Next, the boy in the drivers seat leaned over and down towards the lap of the boy in the passenger seat, so that we could no longer see his head from our vantage point. The second boy proceeded to smile and make eye contact with us several times but nobody started the engine. After he looked at us again and pointed down to his lap using his index finger, smiling wide and lightly laughing, we realized what was going on. The boy in the passenger seat seemed to be receiving his, ahem, "Afternoon Delight" from the driver. Our mouths agape in disbelief, we decided to drive on and find another parking space.
Once parked, we made our way, giggling, to the entrance of the park. I turned back to mentally note that we were in the Daffy Duck lot, near the Snickers sponsored Halloween sign. My husband, dressed as a bee keeper, myself dressed as a bee, Lacey dressed as Natasha and Tom as Boris, waited patiently to have our tickets scanned by the old woman at the turnstile. I found myself thinking charming things about her, because she was old and had a bag of knitting next to her stool and obviously must like kids because she works at a theme park. Maybe she was even a grandma. as we reached the front of the line, however, my illusions were quickly dashed.
"No Costumes," she said flatly. We all smiled and laughed lightheartedly. we assumed this cute old woman was joking around with us. Personally, I am very gullible and often fall for this sort of friendly jesting. But when the woman's frown only deepened, our giggles faded.
"Seriously? But, lots of people are in costume." I said confusedly. My husband guiltily removed his bee keeper hat.
"No adults in costume." Who you calling adults, I almost blurted out. This woman was being dead serious. Suddenly, she transformed from a nice grandma who gives you cookies and milk to a wicked old witch, the official Grinch who was stealing our Halloween. Nowhere had we read that only children could come in costume. And certainly none of us merited being singled out, given that our get-ups were neither gory nor slutty.
Having lost the battle but not the war, we got out of line and stuffed our accessories in Lacey's backpack. Then we zipped up our jackets, put on our serious yet clueless faces and got back in line. The old woman grudgingly let us through, muttering offensive remarks under her breath, so we proceeded to the metal detectors. Just our luck, The Fuzz was there to greet us in our trick or treat.
"No costumes allowed." the policeman sternly informed us.
"We know!" piped up Lacey, "We just took them off."
The cop looked at us with disdain and severe skepticism. "You came in that?"
Nods all around.
"You don't have any clothes in your car that you can change into?"
We honestly shook our innocent heads.
"Why can't we wear costumes, sir?" I asked angelically.
The officer sighed deeply, patronizingly. "We can't have no grown folks walking around in costumes."
Grown? Whose grown? I said sweetly with my eyes.
Without another word, but with an annoyed roll of his eyes, the cop let us through. For the next half an hour or so, I was too scared to put my wings back on for fear of being kicked out. But after realizing that many adults had snuck in costumes under normal clothes, I defiantly strapped them on.
The first ride we went on was the flying swings ride. As we sat down in our swings and hooked ourselves in, my husband and I realized that two girls, about the age of an 8th grader or freshman in high school were staring at us, zombie-like.
"Are you really a bee keeper?"
My husband and I looked at each other, trying to figure out if this girl was serious or if she and her friend were mocking us.
"Uh, no. Its just a costume. Although, adults aren't allowed to wear costumes apparently so I guess I should pretend I am."
This answer seemed to entirely befuddle the girls so they continued to stare at us and smile absentmindedly as if in a daze or lobotomized. Maybe they were actors who worked for Fright Fest.
But as the evening wore on, and more and more people asked in earnest whether or not my husband was really a bee keeper (and did he just come from work? and was it a hard job?) it dawned on us that they were serious. So either the education system in Maryland is greatly failing today's youth, or teens today just spend way too much time engrossed in the alternate realities of video games, leaving them powerless to decipher what is real in the actual world around them.
We became further worried about the current state of Maryland teenagers when, later on in the evening, we saw a stunt show featuring a group of teen boys are played with guns for regular entertainment. Nobody in the audience seemed to question that this is what regular high-schoolers do in the evening, minus the part where a satanic villain attacks them with something akin to The Force. Once he showed up, we were led to believe, things got dangerous. before then, when the boys were just shooting guns for fun, the evening was fun and wholesome. Then shit, I take it, got real.
All and all we decided that the scariest part of Fright Fest, aside from one seriously creepy haunted bridge walk where a freaky man yells at you and spits in your face, was the mobs of people who ran from the actors who played monsters, ghosts, witches, mummies and ghouls. I would not be surprised if Six Flags announced that the park had to be closed early due to a mortal trampling accident.
Finally, around 8:30pm, like the bunch of old timers that we were, my friends and husband an I got outta Dodge. We went to Ruby Tuesday for a late dinner and didn't even imbibe in alcohol. We selected hot tea instead.
So maybe it's true. Maybe Halloween really is for kids and promiscuous teenagers. Perhaps that was the message that the BJ-giving teens, Grinchy old woman, stern police officer, zombie-like Tweens, and reckless stunt devils were trying to tell us. But we still had blast, despite these ageist spectres. Turns out the folks on The Wrong List ("those not to invite") may just be the life of the party.