Photo by MJW

By Mr. Joe Walker

My youngest son loves Halloween. He talks about buying candy, costumes, and decorations all year around. The conversations and shopping lists get longer as we get closer to October 31st.

This year he surprised me with an unexpected question. He asked me when he will be old enough to watch Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

I laughed out loud.

In my head I knew I wasn’t old enough to watch Jackson’s iconic short horror film/music video when I first saw it with my childhood best friend Jerome.

He and his family lived across the alley from me in Muskegon Heights. My folks on the corner of Riordan St., his on the corner of Howden St.

The two of us would always have these imaginative and incredibly elaborate Halloween plans that would never come to fruition. Most of them started with us mapping out our Trick-or-Treat route and ending with us arguing over which of us would be Batman while the other would be Robin.

The funny thing about our back-and-forth bickering is I was never Batman or Robin for Halloween. Most years I was either Darth Vader or Superman, and a couple times I dressed as Shazam.

I loved wearing the costumes but I hated those hot, clunky, often uncomfortable plastic masks with their annoying elastic bands that fit behind my head. Part of the fun, so you’re told, is covering your face while going door to door for treats.

Jerome and I got more of a trick than a treat when we snuck and watched “Thriller” together.

Due to its content “Thriller” was only shown on television at night. Before it played a warning appeared on the screen that stated the video was intended for mature audiences only. That wasn’t us.

Our curious, immature selves got a window of opportunity one evening. With both our parents and older siblings surprisingly preoccupied we seized the moment. That was our first mistake.

The second, we foolishly decided to watch “Thriller” in a dark room. No lights were on except the glow of the television and the dull lightbulbs above our heads that signified a bad idea.

It didn’t take long before we were terrified by what was happening in front of us. And being nervous about getting caught intensified the experience. We spent a large portion of the video’s runtime with our faces masked behind our hands! We didn’t want to hide but we had to.

I told this story to me son. He was listening while sitting on our living room floor surrounded by an assortment of costumes once worn by his older brothers. A few of their outfits came with very spooky masks. Thankfully for them only one of those was an annoying, clunky plastic one.

I could tell my thriller only heighted my youngster’s intrigue. It’s probably not an elastic-stretch to believe that he’ll sneak and watch it one day.

Not long after our conversation we hopped in the car and headed to a store to buy candy and decorations. Due to COVID-19 we’d already decided to forego Trick-or-Treating. Our plan is to have some Halloween fun in the safety of our home.

While driving we passed costume and accessory shop Spirit Halloween. In my head I found it funny, and ironically concerning, that people are required to wear masks to buy masks.

I laughed out loud.

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