My Halloween as a Box

I always loved Halloween as a kid, and still do to this day. I love putting creepy things out in our yard, sitting out on our front porch with a drink, hot or cold depending on the temperature, and watching the kids come by, seeking out the free candy.

When I was a kid, we lived in a rural area, with a few houses around, but not what you would consider prime trick or treating territory. No, for that, we went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house, where we would walk to a large, ritzy development, and do our house foraging there. We made out pretty good too!

But near home, we had our church, which had a Halloween party every year. It was what you would expect, with a costume contest, bobbing for apples, and things like that. They handed out prizes for Scariest Costume, Most Beautiful Costume, Most Original, and probably some others that I’m forgetting.

I never won any of the awards, so one year I was bound and determined to win Most Original, and my idea was nothing short of brilliant! I would go as a box! An ordinary, everyday box! I could see it in my mind’s eye. The mystery that would surround me: What or who is in that box? How did it get here and why is it here? I would be the talk of the party, until the time came to reveal myself, and the mystery was finally solved! I could hear the applause, see the smiling faces as the Most Original award was handed to me, while my family looked adoringly on, proud to be related to such a creative genius. It would be glorious!

The evening of the party finally came, and off we went, my awesome costume in the car with us, ready to be donned. If I remember right, it was myself, my mother and my older sister, who probably dressed as something lame like a gypsy or a witch. Pfft. No originality.

I walked in, box already over me, skinny legs encased in blue jeans sticking out of the bottom. I thought I heard a couple of stunned and surprised remarks, but honestly, I was having a very hard time negotiating my way around, so I didn’t pay much attention. My mother led me to the side, and took a seat in a folding metal chair, and I hunkered down next to her. My plan was working perfectly! Now that I was on the floor, my legs were also hidden, and I was now inconspicuous as only a cardboard box in the middle of a floor could be.

Oh, a few kids came over and tried in vain to look through the eye holes that my mother had insisted I cut out. But I drove them off with snarls and sudden jerky movements. I was sure that I looked and sounded like a dangerous beast held at bay only by the sturdy cardboard walls surrounding me, but in reality, I probably came across more as an inarticulate spasmodic. Either way, the other kids ran off to partake in the Halloween fun, and I was left alone, to bask in the certainty of my soon to be victory.

And left alone I was. It hadn’t occurred to me until that point that there was a good reason that no one had done what I was attempting. When you’re a box, you can’t run around and do things, or even march in the parade. At least, not if you’re a mystery box there to confound and delight the masses, and not just some lame Christmas present or something.

So while the other kids marched, I crouched, sweating slightly in my box, waiting for my moment. The parade ended, the awards were given out…and I didn’t get one. I don’t remember who got Most Original, but it wasn’t the kid in the box.

Well, all was not lost, despite my bitter disappointment. I would stand now, cast off the charade and stand revealed! “Ah, there’s Jim! We wondered where he was,” the other kids would cry out. “That’s who was in there!” I could already hear the wonder that would be in everyone’s voice as I emerged. Perhaps they would even realize the error of their ways, and transfer the Most Original prize to me!

I stood up, but struggled to get the box over my head. At least until my mother helped me. Turning, I looked out over my audience in triumph, ready to acknowledge their accolades with a gracious wave and courteous smile.

I think I heard someone say, “Huh, there was someone in there. Weird.”

In hindsight, much of the mystery was probably ruined when I had parked next to my mother all that time. Everyone knew she had two kids. One of them was running around having fun, and a box with scrawny legs had walked in and sat next to her. Gee, I wonder what it could be?

I was a weird kid. But it never ruined Halloween for me.

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