That night, for the first time, my parents had allowed me to go trick-or-treating with my friends, without an adult. When we had knocked on enough doors to fill our pillowcases with enough candy that we were ready to call it a night, we went back to my friend Curt's house about a quarter of a mile away from my house, and then we all left from there to go home for the night.
I think some kids' parents picked them up and other kids walked or rode their bikes in a different direction than the way I went. I hopped on my bike and headed off toward my house under the patchy beams of the streetlights. When I was about eight houses away from my own, I saw my dog trotting towards me; when she saw me, she turned and ran alongside my bike. We continued along that way until suddenly from out of the shadows came two people wearing costumes and masks. Both had a can of shaving cream, which they squirted into their hands and threw at my dog and me, chasing after us and doing the same thing over and over again until both my dog and I were covered in soapy foam.
By the time we'd made it to my driveway, I was crying, both out of shock and anger and because the shaving cream that was running into my eyes was stinging. My dad was in the kitchen when I came in. He looked up and saw me crying, and I saw his jaw clench as he stood up. After I had told him what had happened, he told my mom to get a towel for me and my dog, and then he stepped outside and slammed the door behind him. I wasn't sure what he was planning to do: it wasn't too often that he saw me crying or that he slammed a door like that.
I was still trying to get the shaving cream out of my hair a little bit later when the front doorbell rang. When my mom and I answered the door, we saw two boys standing on the front porch just in front of my dad. After they sheepishly looked in my direction and told me they were sorry, my dad quietly said, "You still have one more to go" and then he marched them around to the side of the house and my mom and I heard them apologize to my dog.
I'm not sure what has made this event stick out in my memory for so many years: it wasn't the first time that I had seen my dad stick up for someone who needed help, and it wasn't the last. It was one of a handful of times that I can remember him jumping in and fighting a battle for me, though, instead of encouraging me to handle it myself, and, although I don't think I ever told him, I appreciated the way he handled it because it somehow didn't leave me feeling ashamed or afraid.
|The good old days, when kids created their own costumes out of old clothes and scraps of material - or, as in my sister Nancy's case, they just wore their superhero underwear|