Memories of a Bad Luck Halloween
The couple called it “Trick for a Treat” and the fee could be as simple as a summersault or as melodious as a tune.
Even knowing the mouthwatering treats came at a price, costumed children lined up in front of this house to earn a small bag of the best candy in the neighborhood.
In 1971, I was ten years old. My mother was divorced, raising three children and taking electronics courses at Columbus Tech. We lived in the heart of southern Bible belt country. She supported de-segregation of our local schools, and obviously, never won a popularity contest in our community. Her music was my inspiration. I was raised to be strong, think for myself and to NEVER go with the flow.
At the time, I fancied myself the next Cher, with the dramatic flare of a future Mariah Carey who was a baby at the time. I sometimes wonder if Mariah somehow obtained a video of me in my glittering princess costume and copied the way I artistically lifted my hand on the high notes. My elevated hand gesture was, unfortunately, the only similarity between Mariah and me.
In my early teens, I recorded myself singing and was crushed to realize I could rival nothing better than a blood hound.
But on that cold frightful Halloween night when I was ten, I was blissfully unaware of my vocal deficiencies. My brother, sister and I went to the “Trick for a Treat” house. Though I was nervous and my palms were sweaty, I eagerly waited in line for my opportunity to shine. When my turn finally came, I stepped forward, with a thumping heart and my princess crown slightly askew. I raised my small voice and belted out…
I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore And I know too much to go back an’ pretend ’ cause I’ve heard it all before And I’ve been down there on the floor No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes I am wise But it’s wisdom born of pain Yes, I’ve paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to, I can do anything I am strong (strong) I am invincible (invincible) I am woman
You can bend but never break me , cause it only serves to make me More determined to achieve my final goal And I come back even stronger Not a novice any longer ’cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul
I am woman watch me grow See me standing toe to toe As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land But I’m still an embryo With a long long way to go Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes I am wise But it’s wisdom born of pain Yes, I’ve paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to I can face anything I am strong (strong) I am invincible (invincible) I am woman Oh, I am woman I am invincible I am strong
No applause came at the end of my song.
The shocked looks are now comical in my far reaching memory, but, to a then ten year old, the reaction was devastating. I was handed my bag of goodies and ushered out with a “Run along now.”
I held my tears back until I reached the street where I had to wait while my sister did a cartwheel and my brother barked like a dog.
Though my young ego was destroyed, I ate every bite of candy. And, in a few short weeks, I began planning for the following year’s trick. The lyrics were perfect and the chorus a sign of my upbringing.
How much does it cost, I’ll buy it The time is all we’ve lost, I’ll try it But he can’t even run his own life I’ll be DAMNED if he’ll run mine, Sunshine
Thank you Mom for everything. And thank you Helen Reddy for I Am Woman and Jonathan Edwards for Sunshine.
May everyone have a safe and memorable Halloween!