The Innocent Halloween Scare

Halloween is not the time for grown-ups to act like little kids and scare children. Take it from me. It’s just a bad idea….

The time was 1991. I was out to save the world as a recent college graduate turned social worker. My soon to be husband was in sales. We were just starting out, but not quite ready to leave our younger days behind. Halloween to us still meant drinking parties and dressing up and pulling pranks. Apparently you are supposed to grow out of this, but at the time no one had informed us of this. We were grown up little kids ourselves!

That Halloween I rushed home to don my generic Princess costume and Sassy Rick, who was home already, put on his coconut shell bra, hula skirt and gorilla mask, painted himself all over to look JUST like a gorilla. (Because isn’t that WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO?)

I made chili to make the house smell like Fall, even though it was still 80 degrees in Austin. Rick turned on the creepy ghost music on the cassette player . I got the candy basket ready. Rick hid in the bushes. We were ready for trick-or-treaters.

Now mind you there were not yet any kids at our house, and I had bought extra candy for us to eat later because I was sure we would run out and I did concede we were too old to go trick-or-treating ourselves. (Note: Rick would have gone from house to house if I had let him though.) We were just wanting to be a part of the festivitie,s but had no clue about this children thing. So when our first trick-or-treater, a toddling little girl with blonde curls in a ladybug costume, approached we were so excited. I stood just inside the door, candy basket in hand. Rick crouched in the bushes. Mother and daughter approached painfully slowly, stopping at all the other houses but finally they were at our house. On our sidewalk. On our walkway. Almost to the door…..

“OOO-OOO-OOO-EEE-EEE-EEE,” bellowed Rick, thumping his chest and jumping out at the little girl and her mother.

And before I could say “Here is some candy!” the ladybug stopped dead in her tracks, spun around and went screaming down the street, her mother close at her heels. She literally ran screeching as far away and as fast as she could go. Her mother may have yelled back at us “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!!!!!!”

We ate some of the candy.


Our next trick-or-treaters consisted of two little boys under six, and a baby-in-arms.  Our next door neighbors. They must have heard the screaming because they stood at the sidewalk and yelled trick-or-treat in our direction. Their Dad was with him and we knew him pretty well. He just shook his head at Sassy Rick jumping around and thumping his chest. I walked out to the sidewalk to give them candy because they weren’t coming any closer.

“What is Rick doing?”

“Happy Halloween! We really like Halloween! We decided to dress up.”

“I see that. Have fun,” he said shaking his head. “Rick, don’t hurt yourself now.”

We ate some more candy.


We didn’t get any other kids for awhile. I told Rick it was because we were on a cul-de-sac. He was sort of deflated because no one was seeing all of his best gorilla moves. So when people DID come down the street, he was jumping around on the lawn way too soon, and if I didn’t chase them down they weren’t even getting close.

He finally agreed to come inside to eat the chili and take a break.


We got an honest knock at the door, but they ran away when Rick jumped up and threw his mask back on before answering. I didn’t even get to chase that group down with the candy. They were GONE.


By the time we ate, the wave of children and tweens had dwindled, with virtually none of them getting within 50 yards of our house. The only trick-or-treaters left were the teenagers. You know them. They are the ones with pillow cases dressed as themselves, because they are too cool for costumes. Rick decided that it was time for the Gorilla to take out all the stops.

The music was turned up to full blast and he hid  behind the car in the driveway. This gave him a good vantage point to see the teens approach without being seen himself. With each group he waited for them to get to the door before he would jump out.

Invariably he got a reaction he was not wanting.

“’Sup?” said one kid, completely nonplussed. The rest of his group just stared. I gave them extra candy so they would leave immediately.

Another group just laughed, “Dude, that is radical.” Rick offered to let him try on the coconuts. We all ate some candy and discussed the best costumes.

The final group jumped back into Rick’s face when he jumped out at them. I was afraid they might pull an actual weapon out so I intervened and gave them all the rest of the candy.

Lights out. Music off. Costumes off.

Rick was so disappointed.

“I just wanted to scare people and have fun.”

Famous. Last. Words.


Fast-forward to Halloween 1992. Chili made. Candy ready. No costumes. We decided just to be adults and hand out the candy – no expectations.

Our first knocker was a mother. She was literally dragging a blond haired Barbie doll behind her by the arm. The girl was screaming and crying.

We answered the door and were puzzled.


The mother looked right at Rick. “Look what you did!” she screamed. “You and your stupid gorilla costume scared her so bad that she has had nightmares about gorillas for a year. She is terrified! She won’t even go trick or treating.”

I gave Barbie the whole basket of candy, apologized to her mother and glared at Rick.

After she left it was lights out.


I really hope the Ladybug Barbie outgrew her fear of Halloween. And Gorillas.

Moral of the story: Halloween is for the KIDS.  Scaring little kids is not ok. Eating their candy is cool though.

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