You’re a Madman, Charlie Brown!


One year my sister and I made ghost costumes by cutting eye holes in a couple  of sheets.  Mine was pretty much a mess, because I wasn’t very good with scissors, due to the fact that my mom drank a lot while she was pregnant with me and thereby screwed up my coordination. That’s one reason I could never kick a football (along with the fact that Lucy was a little bitch.)  Anyway, that ghost costume practically killed me; first, because I kept tripping over it and falling on my stupid face; and second, because the old lady went ballistic when she saw that I had cut up her lousy bed sheet. I still have a little scar on my ear where she clipped me with her prosthetic hand.

There was this kid named Linus. He was Lucy’s younger brother, and he always carried a blanket around with him. I swear, he used to go bananas if you tried to touch that frickin blanket. I dunno, maybe he was autistic or something, but nobody ever talked about that back then. We just thought he was weird. Anyway, Linus had this fantasy about sitting in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night, waiting for “The Great Pumpkin” to rise up and give him toys. God, he was messed up; you had to wonder what he was smoking. I mean, there was about as much chance of the Great Pumpkin showing up as there was of my old man ever coming to one of my baseball games. Linus was always bugging me to sit with him in the pumpkin patch, but there was no way I was going to miss trick-or-treating — and freeze my ass off — just to keep that nut-job company in some vacant lot. But this one Halloween, Linus did convince my sister Sally to get on his Great Pumpkin insane-train. By the end of the evening, Sally realized what a huge mistake she’d made, so she got plenty pissed and reamed Linus a new one. Years later, she told me that Linus had tried to make a move on her, but by then it was too late for me to kick his ass, because he’d become a pro body builder.  Besides, she was probably lying.  She always told me that guys were trying stuff with her. She did it just to yank my chain. She knew I couldn’t kick anybody’s ass but my own.

Snoopy was my dog.  My dad said he was a beagle, but he was a beagle like I was Batman.  I think my dad bought him from some guy selling mongrel puppies in an alley behind his barbershop. He wanted me to have a dog, because his old man had never let him have a dog, and this was his way of giving the finger to his old man, I guess.  People think we named the dog Snoopy because he was so curious. The truth is, his name was a combination of the nicknames my dad gave Sally and me: Sneezy and Poopy. Sally was the one with the hay fever.  Anyway, that one Halloween, I dug an old leather flying cap and goggles out of the trash, put them on Snoopy, and took him trick-or-treating as a “World War I flying ace.”  People seemed to get a kick out of it, and Snoopy did too, even though the goggles fogged up, so he kept running into trees and fire hydrants and stuff. About halfway through the evening, Snoopy disappeared. I don’t know where he went, but when he came back the next morning, he wore a shit-eating grin and smelled like French poodle.  Sometimes I think Snoopy was the only one who really cared anything about me. I was pretty broken up when my dad accidentally backed over him with the car.

Violet always had a big Halloween party at her parents’ fancy $50,000 house. Usually, I didn’t get invited, because Violet’s dad was the vice-president of a savings and loan, while my dad was just the guy who cut his hair. I guess she was afraid I’d leave hair clippings all over her expensive shag carpet. Or maybe she just hated my guts, like most of my classmates. But that one year, she must have felt sorry for me, or her parents got shamed into making her invite me, or something, because I actually got an invitation to her Halloween shindig. Lucy insisted that I got invited by mistake, and I would have socked her, except I still had hopes of feeling her up someday.  When I got to the party, the other kids used my fat head as a model for their pumpkin carving, and I just had to sit there and take it. Later, we bobbed for apples, and some joker thought it would be fun to “help” me by holding my head under water, until I got frantic and kicked over a chair. Then we had to listen to Violet’s friend Schroeder play some stupid Beethoven songs on the piano. Boooooring!  I wouldn’t have minded that so much, but Lucy kept falling all over the guy, trying her best to make me jealous. Finally, I got fed up and left–but not before I snuck into Violet’s room and took a leak on her carpet. I didn’t care; I already knew I wasn’t going to get another invite.

That was the same Halloween when, instead of giving me candy, all the neighbors slipped rocks into my trick-or-treat bag. I guess they thought it would be hilarious, because it’s always funny to put one over on a dumb little kid, who has to be polite and take all the crap that adults dump on him. But the joke was on the neighbors, because after I left Violet’s party, I went back to their houses and used those rocks to smash their smug, stupid windows.

I still remember that as one of my most fun Halloweens ever.

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