Thursday, October 27, 2011
I have a confession to make—at one point in my life, I was a vandal. From the age of eleven until about the age of fifteen, I engaged in various nefarious acts this time of year. You see once I was too old to dress up and go door to door, begging for candy, the “tricks” in “trick or treating” became much more fun. Armed with our rolls of toilet paper and soap (Ivory works the best, btw) my friends and I would prowl the town late at night hanging toilet paper in trees, winding it around bushes, and writing what we thought were clever messages on windows with the Ivory soap. And no, I never got caught by our local cops…I could run a lot faster back then.
Who were our victims? People we knew—usually hitting any home that housed a certain boy whose attention we were trying to attract and teachers we didn’t like. We never smashed pumpkins, threw eggs, or wrote on cars, the latter of which can ruin a paint job. Nope, we were strictly a toilet paper and soaping windows gang.
Then last but not least, we would then sneak over to our seventh grade math teacher’s house, a woman whom I now suspect really wasn’t all that fond of children, and ring the collection of antique school bells placed about her yard. We’d ring the bells then run like hell. Once I ruined a perfectly good pair of socks skittering over the barbed wire fence circling her backyard. And always adding to the excitement of this act of trespassing were the rumors that her husband lie in-wait with a shotgun full buckshot with which to pepper our behinds. Obviously it was just a rumor—I don’t recall anyone ever getting shot and he would’ve had plenty of opportunities. It was tradition to “ring Elsie’s bells” and this time of year, one could hear them clanging every night!
Ahh, the memories… I can still remember the thrill of ducking through alleys, hiding in bushes, and the way it all made my little adolescent heart beat faster. Back then the true measure of friendship was the friend who stopped to help you to your feet after you'd tripped on an exposed tree root while running willy-nilly through someone's yard instead of ditching you to face the music alone.
Do kids still engage in this behavior? Yup—recently, after Homecoming, the trees along the main drag through town were festooned with strips of toilet paper waving in the breeze. I expect we’ll see more after this weekend.
What will I do if my trees are chosen by phantom TP’ers this year? Grind my teeth and worry about the mess? No, I’ll smile and remember just how much fun it was as a kid watching those rolls uncurl around the branches and maybe be just a little bit envious that my days of lawlessness are past!
That’s it for this week—Happy Halloween!