I was going to write a sad little something about Halloween and how this time of year always sucked because it was usually when Rob got into his most serious trouble. The spooky season was when I worried the most, waiting for the phone to ring, trying to gird myself from whatever fucked-up, crazy hellraising had just gone down.
But instead of revisiting those horror stories, I asked Zach and Caryn if they had the photo from a million Halloweens ago when the Menendez brothers went trick-or-treating as Batman and Robin. Zach sent it to me first (see above) because he had previously shared it on his Instagram, and then Caryn texted me another classic photo (see below).
I asked her if she remembered Halloween as a happy time in our life.
“Nope,” she said, “What I remember most is yelling at them for eating too much candy.”
“They were so little,” I said. “Remember when we once let Zach eat as much candy as he wanted until he puked it all up?”
“Of course I remember that!” she texted back. “You also told me to chill out and just let them eat it! I still feel badly about yelling at them.”
What I remembered was sneaking into the kids’ rooms once they fell asleep and going through their plastic pumpkins and shopping bags filled with all kinds of yummy crap. I’d pick out the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and would then clean them out of Kit Kat bars. It took Rob and Zach several years before they finally caught on to what I was doing, and I don’t think Rob ever really cared because he never had that much of a sweet tooth.
I remembered the kids dressing up as Power Rangers, ninjas, pirates, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and there was one year when Zach went as a pimp, wearing a giant, wide-brimmed purple hat, pink-tinted sunglasses and a fake gold grill covering his teeth. Rob’s costumes always seemed to come with a sword or some kind of pointy weapon that gave him yet another excuse (like he needed one) to whack the shit out of Zach.
I remembered how delighted the kids were when they first learned the trick-or-treat song in kindergarten (which I can’t imagine parents letting their kids sing today):
Trick or treat, smell my feet
Give me something good to eat
If you don’t, I don’t care
I’ll pull down your underwear!
They were equally delighted years later when I turned them on to the R.E.M version of “Spooky” by the Classics IV.
And then I remembered a semi-funny conversation I had with Rob when he was 17 and in Four Winds on Halloween. He’d just been admitted a few days prior and was bummed about not being with his friends on that night. I pointed out that it was way cooler being in a mental hospital on Halloween—in a Stephen King type of way.
He laughed weakly and said that there was going to be a lame costume parade in his unit that evening, with most of the kids dressing up as either The Joker or as a “skank,” and that there were a surprising number of boys going as skanks and girls as Jokers. I asked him who he was going as and he said, “Myself.”
“Maybe we’ll all dress up tonight, too,” I joked. “Mom could be a witch, Zach could be a clown and I’ll be a ghost.”
“You’re not the ghost type,” he said, confirming that I had nailed the rest of our family. “Maybe a werewolf or Frankenstein.”
“Thanks, fuckhead,” I said. “What about a skeleton?”
“You’re too fat,” he said.
“I think I’d make a good elf.”
“Too gay,” he said.
“You know what? Maybe I’ll just follow in your footsteps and go as myself,” I said. “Or better yet, maybe I’ll just go as you!”
“Whatever,” he said. “When you come to visit tomorrow, can you bring more candy?”