My El Monte Halloweens

By Michael Jaime-Becerra
FROM: Los Angeles Times

downloadWhen I was a boy, we didn’t celebrate Halloween. I recall trick-or-treating once, the year I was 5, my mother taking my sister and me to our nana’s house in South El Monte, me in a cowboy costume, my caramel-colored corduroy vest and chaps fresh from my mother’s sewing machine, my sister’s ladybug costume too. We approached a few houses to collect whatever candy we could, and aside from a future Halloween party or two and our elementary school’s costume parade, that was it.

My father experienced most holidays through the advertised supermarket specials where he worked, and he hated Halloween, hated the idea of spending good money on candy that would be given away, and to begging strangers on top of that. This was just before the start of the 1980s and the advent of slasher films, hysteria about razor blades in apples, and hospitals starting to offer X-ray services before children took their candy home. But my father’s despising of Halloween wasn’t about potential danger, or being cheap, or his kids overdoing it with sugar. More than anything, he loathed the notion that things could be gotten for free. To him, everything came at a price. At some point, he became determined to teach us this.

Every Halloween, he would disconnect the doorbell’s wires, tape butcher paper over the side window beside the front door, and block the door with his pick-up truck, the bumper so close to the house that to squeeze ourselves outside we’d have to step through my mother’s gardenias. Because our bedroom windows faced the street, they had to stay dark. My mother, a woman who picked her battles carefully, would turn on the kitchen light, the only other light allowed besides the television. The TV’s volume would be low, our family hidden from the outside world. Night would fall and I would try to ignore the other children racing with excitement past our house.

In later years, I’d dress up with waning interest, any costume seeming foreign and silly and childish. As an adult, Halloween became something I experienced from a detached emotional distance and with a certain degree of dread, the way one might stand at the edge of a packed dance floor to admire everyone’s moves, held back by two left feet. Read Rest of Article Here

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