As most of us know, our childhood experiences from Halloween come to an inevitable end. It’s usually when we decide we are too big or too old to go trick-or-treating. I remember thinking I would trick-o-treat even when I was an adult! When it was time to pick my costume for Halloween 1995, an event I usually began thinking about in August, I decided that I wanted to be the character Storm from the X-Men comic books. I didn’t just like her because she was black and a woman, but because she was one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men comic books. Storm wore an off-white super suit with a cape and yellow utility belt. She had long beautiful white hair and was statuesque. In a surprise turn of events, my mom decided not to make my Halloween costume this year. She usually hand-made my and my siblings’ costumes every year but for some reason, she didn’t plan to hand-make mine. Probably due to my older sister’s time-consuming request to be Princess Jasmine or the fact that my mother now had 6 children, a full-time job, and only two hands. I was a little bummed out about not getting my costume made until I saw what she brought home from the store. She got me an authentic Storm costume with a cape and a white wig.
I was pumped!
I decided to wear my costume to school because I thought it was cool and I would already be dressed for the annual costume parade. Unlike the previous school years, the parade that year would culminate with a sock hop in the gymnasium for grades 5 through 8. I had never been to this dance before because I wasn’t old enough to go and this made the Halloween parade even more exciting. I was already having visions of ghouls, goblins, ninjas, and princesses dancing and talking in a decorated gym with eyeball punch, ghost-shaped cookies, and apple bobbing to the spooktacular sounds of Halloween-themed music. Halloween 1995 was starting to become epic!
The Costume parade usually kicked off with the preschoolers. They would walk around each classroom and when they were done, the kindergartners would follow suit, then first grade, second, and so on. Those kids were so dang cute and as the classrooms got older, the costumes got cooler and scarier. When it was my grade’s turn to go, we were excited because most of us had a costume that year and it gave us hope to be the favorite class. It was super fun to go through the preschool through third-grade classes. Everyone knew who I was because the X-Men cartoon was very popular on TV at the time. I was having the effect I was expecting to have. I may as well have been flying into the rooms on the wind! I extended my cape outwards and twirled and tossed my hand into the air. I was a dang superhero.
When I entered the fourth-grade class, the reaction was still excitement, but in a different way. I noticed that the boys in the room were hooting and hollering extra loud when I walked into the classroom. Until that point, I thought all the excitement was because I looked cool in my costume but when I got to the other fifth-grade room (we had two fifth-grade classes), the cheers turned to whistles and catcalls. The teacher quieted the boys up, but their stares, glares, and verbal flares sucked the wind from under my cape. It suddenly dawned on me that it wasn’t my costume they were excited about. It was me in it. I guess I should have mentioned that I had gotten my period about a month ago and my body had begun to change. Although I was only ten years old, at 5’ 3”, I had the body of a 16-year-old teenager.
I suddenly became embarrassed. I began to hide my body with my hands and my cape as best as I could. When I got to the sixth-grade classroom, the sounds from the boys grew louder and they hollered at me with “Dang, Tracie” and “Oh my gawd” as I walked around the room on full display. My older sister was in sixth grade and could see I was uncomfortable. She hissed at the boys who called out to me and threatened to meet them with more than words if they kept up their mess. Things worsened exponentially in the seventh and eighth-grade classrooms. As I tiptoed through the room as if these soft footfalls could make me invisible, I wished I had Storm’s powers so I could have summoned a cloud to hide myself away from everyone’s eyes.
When I got back to my homeroom I was so hurt. So red in the face. So sad. What was I thinking? I felt so stupid for wearing that costume and I no longer wanted to be seen in it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have clothes to change into and after the other grades finished their parades, it was time for the school dance. I didn’t want to go and told my teacher as much, but he didn’t want to miss his chance for a break in the teacher’s lounge while all the upperclassmen went to the sock hop. I was mortified and dreaded being seen by the older boys again, who took away my innocence with their spooky eyes and fanged mouths. When I got to the gymnasium, the already awful time I was having was made worse when there were no decorations or bowls of blood punch to be found. It was just an empty gym playing Chicago-style house music instead of the Monster Mash.
I stayed close to my best friend, who clearly saw I was uncomfortable but still wanted to enjoy the dance. When she went on the dance floor, I tried to stay close to her but we were separated by a few big, eighth-grade boys eyeing me like a thanksgiving plate at their grandma’s house. Soon, I was surrounded by what looked like the alien Space Jam basketball team. I couldn’t see over them, under them or through them. They completely circled me, asking if I wanted to dance. I said no. They took my hand. I snatched it back. They tugged at my cape. I pulled it away. They closed themselves in closer and my eyes began to water. I was so terrified at my new reality. Here I was, in one of the best Halloween costumes I had ever worn, being treated like I was actually interested in growing up. I knew that my body was changing at the time, I wasn’t that daft. I had noticed that some of the boys in school began looking at me differently but up until that point, I gave them nothing in return. But during this Halloween parade, my costume gave away my bodily secrets. In this skin-tight epic Storm outfit, I couldn’t hide my blossoming body like I could in my school uniform. Now the secret was out. Now they knew I had changed.
In the middle of the circle of wolves, vampires, and clowns (it was Halloween), I was losing hope that I would stay a child. This was a storm I couldn’t control. I thought there was no way out of this until I was rescued. My older sister burst through this siege of boys like a bull and yelled at them, “Leave my sister alone! If you have a problem with that, you have to deal with me!” They scattered like roaches. She took me over to the wall and told me to just stand there. She stayed with me long enough and then went to join in the fun with the confidence that everyone knew she didn’t make idle threats. I stared at what was clearly a fun time for everyone else. They were all dancing in a big group, so close together, laughing, sweating, and touching each other while I clung to the wall for dear life hoping that the wall wouldn’t move.
When I went home, I wanted to tell my mother what happened but I was too quiet back then. I didn’t speak up for myself in my youth and often when I did, I would cry at the moment I felt a strong emotion.. All I remember asking my mom when we got home was if we were going trick-or-treating. She said, “Of course. Why wouldn’t we?” I replied, “Is my costume too small?” She said, “No, are you uncomfortable in it?” She started to pull at it, loosening up the stitching as if there was something she could fix. I then asked, “Am I too old for trick-or-treating?” She said, “No, anyone in a costume can go trick-or-treating but if you don’t wear a costume, you won’t get any candy.” I loved how my mom used to dance around my emotions in this simplistic way. She saw I was disturbed but wanted to show me that I was still a child. When I thought about it for a moment, I still wanted candy despite the boys at my school making me feel like I couldn’t enjoy Halloween like I used to. Though I was still a little worried about my costume and how other people, other men, would see me, when we went trick-or-treating, I got treated like a child again. I had so much fun with my siblings and my parents while trick-or-treating but it didn’t make me forget what happened earlier that day.
I think most people experience that moment when they realize they can’t go trick-or-treating anymore, you know, when you just get too big for it. This was my moment, at 10 years old. I thought I was too young for my trick-or-treating days to end, I mean after all, my sister was 11 and she was still trick-or-treating. But I didn’t look like her and she didn’t blossom like I did. It just wasn’t fair. Halloween 1995 was my last time trick-or-treating. For Halloween the next year, I didn’t want to wear anything revealing. I think I went as Freddy Kruger in the sixth grade and the next year I dressed as an agent from the movie Men in Black, full black suit that hid all of my secrets. Although I stopped wearing fitted clothes, not dressing up for Halloween didn’t change what was happening to my body and now all the boys knew. I was growing up and Halloween 1995 taught me that whether or not I wanted to stay a child, my environment was making the decision for me.
Talk about a scary story! As awful as that experience was, I have been able to work through it over the years and now I not only dress up for Halloween, but I also take my nieces trick-or-treating and be sure to tell them they will never be too old or too big to enjoy Halloween. And when I don’t take them out, I stay at home playing ghostly music from my house while handing out candy to trick-or-treaters of all sizes because everyone should be able to experience the fun of the holiday.
Do you remember when you got too old or big for Halloween? Hopefully your experience wasn’t as terrible as mine. Either way, we’d love to hear about it over at LYF! Share your story with us in the comments below or on any of our social media platforms.
About the Author
Tracie Chavonne is a writer, yoga instructor, flight attendant, energy reader, and student at UNLV. She has self-published several books about her life’s journey at Crescent Sol. Currently, Tracie is majoring in English for Creative Writing and is currently a writer for the Love Yourself Foundation.