Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Halloween is my favorite holiday. I like costumes, spooky things, and candy. This one's a no-brainer.

The accompanying pic is a costume from a couple of years ago. I was "The Angel of Death on Casual Friday." The idea was that there was a new memo from the corporate office explaining that it was now acceptable for reapers to wear a hooded sweatshirt instead of formal robes. Most people concentrated on the "Angel of Death" part, and I got a prize for scariest costume.

Apparently the big tall guy with a lifelike latex prosthetic skeleton face is gonna be creepy no matter what the concept is. Especially with a giant scythe.

In seventh grade we lived in a small town, and I got out of school early enough to trick-or-treat three separate times (in three different costumes). I didn't realize at the time that that was the last year I'd really go trick-or-treating, but it was a good way to go out, I suppose.

In 1992, I had entered into my first songwriting partnership. On Halloween, in the afternoon, we wrote a song we really liked, and went door to door in his neighborhood performing the song in exchange for any fruit they had on hand. We called it "tune-or-fruiting." The people who answered the door seemed mostly puzzled by this, but listened patiently and gave us bananas and apples.

My freshman year in high school, I had decided not to dress up. I figured I had outgrown Halloween. The night before, though, I was talking on the phone to a girl I had hopes of impressing. Her view was that Halloween was fun, and that people should dress up.

When we got off the phone I started looking around for a costume I could wear. I couldn't find anything, and ended up walking over to the nearby K-mart to find something.

I had less than a dollar in my pocket. But while browsing through the Halloween make-up section, I saw a few things which had been opened. I reasoned that they couldn't sell these, and put them in my pocket.

I spent another 15 minutes or so wandering around the store. As I attempted to exit, I was stopped by a somewhat beefy guy who accused me of shoplifting. He patted me down, eventually finding the makeup in the huge inside pocket of my jean jacket. He seemed unfamiliar with the fact that all jean jackets have such pockets, which I thought was kind of weird because the jacket had most likely been purchased there. That and the fact that jean jackets were commonly used for shoplifting. Maybe he was new.

He took me back through the store, intoo a little office, and called the police. He apparently wasn't buying the whole "it was already open" defense. He had me empty my pockets into a cellophane bag. In my front pants pocket, he found a bowl (of the pipe variety, not the serving kind) and said "You know, when I was in college, we used to smoke dope out of these." He laughed and laughed, before implying I would likely get a drug charge on top of the shoplifting.

I told him that I had found it in the parking lot.

The police finally came, the officer introducing himself to both myself and the security guard separately as "Officer William Hurt, not the actor," followed by a rueful chuckle. He was much smaller than me, with a gut and a rapidly receeding hairline, so I was guessing people didn't really mistake him for the actor very often.

He actually handcuffed me to lead me from the security office to the squad car. He seemed apologetic enough about it, explained that it was just procedure. I found it humiliating not because I had been arrested, but because it was visibly clear to everyone I walked past that I was being arrested for stealing from K-mart.

He put me into the back of the car, doing the whole head-guiding thing they do on tv. Then he tossed the cellophane bag with my possessions in it into my lap before getting behind the wheel and driving off.

I asked him a lot of questions as we drove, talking very loudly so he wouldn't hear me moving the pipe from the bag and back into my front pocket.

At the station, they put me in a cell with a loud, drunken man. My guess is that they were trying to scare me. Eventually my brother arrived (my mom being out selling crystal at one of those party-sales things) and bailed me out. I was processed and eventually received probation from a man already known to our family through some scrapes my brother had had with the local law enforcement.

My favorite part of this story, though (while not Halloween-related) is that less than two years later, the very same K-mart hired me as a cashier. During my interview, I was seated next to a filing cabinet which contained the records that would have prevented me getting that job.

But by then I was an upstanding youth. Still wearing the same jean jacket, but no longer interested in stealing from K-mart.


CC2383 said...

Was the girl you were trying to impress with the Halloween costume impressed that you got arrested instead?

Anonymous said...

There are several parts of this story that are scary -- the most severe being the fact that you were actually a cashier at a Kmart. Yikes.

Oh and that was my anon comment in yesterday's comment area. Sorry.


The Moon Topples said...

cc: I think she was vaguely impressed. Not a lot, though.

David: I figured the comment was yours because you called me "sir." And the cashier thing was kind of weird. The way things are going, I'll be asking them for my job back before too long.

Unknown said...

there is still an Officer Bill Hurt who works for the Naperville Police Department. I believe his hairline has ceased its recession, largely due to having no further lines to recede towards. Meanwhile, he has become a DARE officer. So far as I know, he has never used your experience to attempt to scare the kids straight.