One Halloween, when I was about 11, my Mom sewed me a killer witch costume: floppy, pointy hat, black cape and all. I looked awesome and fearsome.
The year marked one of the first times we kids could go door-to-door by ourselves. Yes, at 11 years old. These days? No way. This was maybe five years before the razor-blades-in-apples scare (which was so not even a thing.)
Gathering up my friends Anne, Kathy and several others, we prepared to become sugar terrors in the quiet, preppy neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. Our aim was to get as much candy as we possibly could. We were unleashed by ourselves, no parental supervision. We OWNED this damn Halloween.
So without any sense of boundaries or discretion, we’d knock on our neighbors’ doors, reach into the giant bowls of wrappers, and lunge at the pile of candy like ravenous baby bears. Maybe we were more polite and choosy than that, but I’m pretty sure we were bloodthirsty.
I kept an eye out for my favorites: the long since discontinued Reggie Bar, named for baseball home-runner Reggie Jackson and peanut-crispy Whatchamacallits. Even as a pre-teen I fancied myself a candy connoisseur.
And no sooner had we stuffed our plastic pumpkins with goodies than we started unwrapping the candies one by one, en route to our next hit. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much chocolate in my life. We were Augustus Gloop from Willy Wonka, guzzling from the river fudge. Unaware of the peril that lay before us…
So it was on my way back home, walking alone, down the winding St. Martins Lane that I had an accident. No, I didn’t fall down and go boom. I shit my pants.
I’d eaten so many Three Muskateers, Reggies, Boston Baked Beans… I simply couldn’t make it. I unloaded in my black witchy tights.
It was late and dark and there was nothing to be done but make the journey four or five blocks. And anyone who has ever committed such a dire thing knows this horrifying feeling. Here is 11-year-old me waddling along trying in vain to get to a bathroom, any bathroom. I imagined myself as the American pioneers I’d just read about in history, having trudged through war and mud, just to reach the promised land. A BATHROOM.
But my hell wasn’t over.
As I turned the corner, about a block from my house, a group of slightly older boys I recognized from school were gathered at the corner, across the street. They were hooting and yelling and I got that vibe you get when you know someone has spied you for taunting. They started whispering and then one boy yelled through the darkness:
“We’re gonna rape you little girl!”
I sort of knew what this meant, so I amped up my waddle.
Then wild laughter and more yelling.
“Rape, rape, ha ha rape.”
In any normal situation I might have been horrified, but there was one thing that made me feel safe and secure: the copious shit in my pants.
And I thought, in my 11-year-old wisdom, “Oh yeah, go ahead and try fellas. You’re in for a biiiiiiiiiiig surprise.”
Lucky for me — and for them — they never came near me. They were just idiot, 13-year-old boys aping for some neighborhood girl.
I made it home, ran to the powder room downstairs and — well, you don’t need the gory details — I emerged unscathed.
And those boys? Hilariously, I still see a few of them in my hometown every so often, when I go home. Married with kids and living a perfectly normal life in Philly, never fully knowing the shit that could have gone down.