That’s One Vote for Black – Wait. Who is “Black?”

I don’t really remember if Halloween was a big deal in my household growing up. We handed out candy to the neighborhood children, but we didn’t really get dressed up. I remember going out trick-or-treating, but, again, my memory is blurry on whether my parents dressed me up in a costume for their own enjoyment. That really is the essence of Halloween, a parade of children wearing whatever the most popular figure of that year was, 1938 was probably an uneasy year for most.

I have memories of coming home with bags of candy and dumping them on the floor of our den. Sorting through them and making sure to hoard any Snickers bars that I could get my hands on. Doing my best to distract my sister as I also snatched away any Payday, 3 Musketeer, and M&M’s. All while being vigilant in our pursuit of the famed razor blade that our psychotic neighbors would put in the candy they handed out. You’d have to be psychotic to do that to a child, unless your a dentist or an oral/plastic surgeon, then you’re teaching a lesson and ensuring a profitable year.

My least favorite part would be getting pennies or a Werther’s Original that some old lady was handing out because she forgot it was Halloween and didn’t want to go down to the store so she took whatever she had laying around and handed them to disappointed kids who, in later years, would throw eggs at her house to showcase their anger.

When I was older we would vandalize our neighborhoods with shaving cream, silly-string, fire, toilet paper, and, for some reason, toothpaste. We wouldn’t cause too much havoc, just enough that if it were any normal day of the year we would be arrested and called “arsonists.”

One of my least fond memories of Halloween will probably make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, hopefully because you have a nice tall cup of hot cocoa. Be careful with it though and don’t pick it up during the funny parts because I don’t want to be sued for your stupidity.

When I was about six or seven, and really just getting into this whole English language thing, I attended a fun Halloween party at my friends house, in her basement, where I was alone with her father.

JUST KIDDING! Her father left her when she was a kid.

Despite my foggy memory of years past, I do believe for this party I was a Ghostbuster. If memory serves me correctly I had a small backpack, a nerf-type gun with soft sponge-like bullets, and a ghost trap that was more of a tripping hazard than anything else.

The party was fun. It featured a bunch of parents getting drunk and trying to remember their younger years when they didn’t have to care for another human being 24/7.

Sad.

And then one of the most embarrassing moments in my life took place. I think it may have been the first time I ever felt embarrassment, what with the 23 years that have passed since the event and the strong memory I have of it.

Nothing spices up a party like a contest and the host knew it!

Each child was asked to vote for the best costume of the day. We were each handed a piece of paper, a crayon, and told to write down who deserved to win the crown of “best costume.” Nothing kicks off a child’s life better than a good ol’ kick in the pants that would reverberate for years and bubble up in situations where any type of self-esteem in one’s self would be an asset.

My friend Blake had the best costume that year. I want to say he was a vampire, but I’m not really sure. I think I may have given him my vote because, at the time, he was one of my best friends. I wrote it down, submitted it and awaited the results. Reflecting back now I kind of knew that I wouldn’t win so I was consoling myself with various sugary treats.

Then came the big announcement.

The first name read off was Blake’s. I smiled, knowing that I did him a favor. I felt proud of my friend for having such a great costume or, as I know now, just being more popular than anyone else at the party.

The next name that came out was Blake’s again.

Then the next was again Blake.

I looked around the room with some disdain for the other voters. This may have been the first time I ever associated with the feeling of being cheated on. Just how many best friends did Blake have?

“Alright, folks, the next name is…Bla-”

A hushed silence came over the room.

“Black?”

The host paused for a moment.

“Wait. Who is Black? Who wrote black? B-L-A-C-K?”

My stomach dropped and I remember feeling dizzy.

Although my mind was telling me to stop it, my arm was already raised above my head.

“Did you write Black?”

Yes I did.

“Who did you mean to vote for?”

Blake.

I can still feel the glaring eyes of the drunk mothers and fathers in the room as they continued to stare a hole in my back. I was in the middle of the room standing completely alone. The first time I felt naked in front of a group of people. I did all I could to hide my embarrassment, luckily it didn’t manifest itself in any other way than tears. I’m very happy, still to this day, that my body’s response to that situation wasn’t releasing my bladder.

The host saw the situation that was in front of her and quickly pulled the next name out and read it, “Blake!”

I was still there, standing alone in the middle of the room but everyone’s attention luckily moved away from me and back to the star of the show. I learned something that day though, always, always, ALWAYS, proofread your work.

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