Sometimes ideas that start out with the best of intentions end up as fiascos. There’s no other way to describe it.
This one came about the last year I ever went out trick-or-treating. I decided to be “the little old (Groton’s) fisherman.” And, wanting to keep things authentic, I had to have things just right.
So, a couple of days before Halloween, I went through the closets and the attic and the storage space under the house and our shed and I found what I thought were all the pieces that I needed.
I found the yellow Sou’wester (slicker), the fisherman’s hat that went with the slicker, a pair of my uncle’s old knee boots (he did some clamming to supplement our income as we lived about 300 feet from high tide), and, of course, there was my fishing rod.
Living at the seashore, you just had to have a fishing rod, although — truth to tell — I never caught more than three flounder with it on one very lucky afternoon. I did catch a whole mess of crabs that we threw back and various things like horseshoe crabs, pollack, and other junk fish.
Let’s face it, I just wasn’t the world’s luckiest or best fisherman — my brothers were that year and had a great summer, stuffing the freezer full of flounder and sole. We had so much fish that year that I still can’t look a fish in the face the face without feeling my tummy doing its thing, while I look away and ask for a steak.
Well, there I was, actually ready a day early for Halloween. I mean if there’s a master procrastinator in this world, it has to be me, so I should have suspected something would be up because I’m just never early for anything (my wife will tell you that), but I just assumed I was having a lucky break and got my costume all set.
Naturally, my brothers went their own ways — we all had different friends — and I went mine when All Hallows Eve showed up the next day. I waited until after the little kids were done (I mean, come on, I was a cool 11-year-old) and went out after 6 p.m. and began walking up and down our local streets doing the trick-or-treat thing.
Everything was going great until I turned the corner from my street to the one next and the line lock on my fishing reel let out a little too much line — I had forgotten to cork the hook, duh!!! — and I hooked the cape of the next person who went the other way. Well, it was fun getting that untangled and digging the barb out of my thumb, but at least the other kid was okay.
So I proceeded on to the next house, thumb throbbing with a little drip, drip, drip of blood on the ground. The people thought I looked like a great ghoul fisherguy, complete with my own effects and I got a lot of stuff that was also getting covered with more of my own red stuff.
Oh, it was great!!!
The next folks thought my costume was so cool they emptied half a candy dish into my bag and they stopped to take a photo, I think — never did want to see it — of the kid with the great effects (I didn’t carry a bandaid then so all I could do was hold the thumb up in the air and continue to drip).
By now, half the neighborhood knew about the kid with the chopped up thumb and most of the other kids ran the other way because it wasn’t the greatest looking cut in the world, but the adults loved it. They ate it up until my poor fishing rod caught another kid’s Superman cape.
That’s when things got ugly because it seems that the barb got lodged in the cape really tightly and Superman’s eyeballs started to bug out of his head as he began to choke on my poor fishing line.
So, here we are, standing in the middle of a yard; Superman turning into superwheezer and me bleeding happily away. Well, superwheezer’s parents lived next door and they got more than a little perturbed by the fact that their Superhero was rapidly becoming a superwheezer and they started yelling, and their kid started panicking, so I did what any good fisherman would do, I pulled out my trusty pocketknife (my grandpa gave it to me and I still have it) and cut the line and just threw the sucker back.
I also broke to the left; candy flying all over the place, never looking back as I galumphed through three of four yards to get into the really dark shadows where I could breathe.
Actually, I was a tad heavy at the time and could really barely breathe and I decided then and there, that was it — no more trick-or-treat, so I took off the Sou’wester, the hat, and put them over my arm; took what was left of my red-splattered candy, and galumphed back home in my uncle’s knee boots that were about four sizes too large, even with extra socks on and newspaper stuffed inside. When I got home — thank goodness Dad was still at work and Mom was at some meeting or another and my brothers weren’t home yet — I looked at my thumb, cleaned it up and put on a bandaid. I took the candy and dumped it because there was just too much of me mixed with it (I still can’t eat a Jolly Rancher that’s red), put everything away and waited for my family to come home.
Oh yes, I never did use my fishing rod again because I figured after catching a Superman I really couldn’t do much better.