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Thursday, October 31, 2013

18

What My Grandfather Taught Me About Being Born on Halloween

I met this world while my mother was watching Vincent Price in House of Wax, and made my debut “covered in gore,” according to my father.

There are five percent fewer babies spontaneously born on Halloween than on any other day of the year, according to a 2011 Yale study; researchers postulated that superstitious women must either clench their uteri tight to keep their babies in until All Saints’ Day on November 1, or exert and expel more righteous babes on October 30.

My own mother was super-relaxed and ready to push on Halloween because her own father, known as the Warlock, was also born on Halloween, 56 years prior to my appearance.

This legacy meant that the Warlock always called me (never within earshot of anyone else, and therefore mostly said in a whisper) “Lil’ Witch,” and that in time, he and I would come to share a love of mashed potatoes, cheap wine, Western novels, and dirty secrets, along with the same long, bumpy Irish noses and double-jointed fingers.

I have learned, in the years since my entrance one Hallow’s Eve, that bartenders all over America are head-over-heels in solidarity with the Halloween birthday, and will quite often make any lil’ witch free drinks based on her ID alone.

But as the Warlock warned, a Halloween child will always be shortchanged of a true birthday party. On Halloween 1935, only one person showed up to the Warlock’s 10th birthday party in Tennessee. Mostly thanks to that tale of woe, I’ve never even tried to have one of my own.

I’ve also learned that any true spawn of Samhain must have a significant origin story. A black cat named Molly who belonged to my dad’s secretary, I told rapt elementary school classmates for many years, disappeared the night I was born—and she was never seen or heard from again

The Warlock, as a young father in 1950s suburban southern California, made up for a birthday party deficit by taking the kids trick-or-treating as he brandished an empty glass, yelling, “Trick or Treat, fill my glass, dammit, it’s my birthday!” at any neighbor who dared answer the door. My mother and uncle grew to annually argue about whose turn it was to take Dad trick-or-treating.

My own misanthropic iteration of this practice has been to dress up as Carrie, drench my head and body in sticky red corn syrup, and walk around a Halloween party beseeching people to embrace me, and dance with me, dammit, because it’s my birthday.

Folks born on Halloween are also said to have second sight. One day, the Warlock quite seriously imparted this knowledge to me as we idled at a stoplight in his old Civic hatchback, which he liked to drive fast through SoCal traffic. “It’s about knowing something all of a sudden, being sure. See that woman?” he said, pointing to a silver sedan two cars ahead of us. “She’s going to try to turn left when the light changes. Watch.”

The lady in question was patiently waiting in line at the light, looking straight ahead with at least two lanes between her car and the left-turn lane. I waited for the light, willing it to be true, wondering how in the hell he knew. And lo, when the light turned green, she swung her wheel very suddenly to the left, clumsily blocking two lanes of traffic with her car all cattywampus.

The Warlock eased off the clutch and expertly zoomed around her, flashing me his most superior smile.

“Sometimes, you just know,” he grinned.

 

Previously: How Murder Ballads Helped Me

Photo via medialoog/flickr.

Molly Boyle lives in northern New Mexico, a region with a satisfying abundance of ghost towns.



18 Comments / Post A Comment

Mae
Mae

The real question is, were you born with the caul?

pollypeachum

Your grandfather sounds like the best grandfather!

SallyChans00

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I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Oh my god this is the best! Do you have any second sight stories? I'm all caught up in the Halloween excitement. OH AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

gna207

I am one of the "more righteous babes on October 30"! I have never really like Halloween because of the weird timing. My brother also resented me for a long time because I ruined his trick or treating plans in 1989. It's nice that you can share your Halloween bday with your Grandpa. Solidarity!

whimseywisp

I feel like your birthday parties would be extra fun because they would be Halloween parties and everyone loves those! Great story :).

MagentaGalaxy

happy birthday! this is the best. i just shared it with my slightly psychic friend who was also born on this day.

panther

Happy birthday from a fellow Halloween baby! I only wish that I had second sight...but I'm optimistic that I'll at least get a free drink tonight.

Brunhilde

@panther A bunch of people bought me shots at midnight last night and work today is pretty painful. I'm getting away with slacking, though, since it's my birthday and all.

MrsTeacherFace

Ruined birthdays! I guess that's probably true of most babies born on a major holiday. My husband was born on Valentine's day, so no one is ever available to celebrate his birthday.

cureyourills

I was supposed to be born on Halloween too but was instead born on the much lamer October 27th. Didn't stop me from having Halloween-themed birthday parties as a kid though. Signed, jealous non-Halloween baby.

Brunhilde

It's my birthday too! We are the best.

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Alicepham

Congrat! I think you will be one of special people around the world...like spider man! I think we may have a story for each day in a year. we may see many story on Minneapolis youtube or somewhere else.

Tafadhali

My birthday is a week before Halloween and I always looooved having costume birthday parties as a kid. Maybe I would have felt differently if I'd been born a couple days later, though.

My grandmother was an October 30th baby, and she was born during Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast. I have always been super jealous of that fact.

(My family is full of late October birthdays. We have a 19th, two 23rds, a 24th, a 25th, and a 30th, and as of last week we have an October 22nd as well. He was due on Halloween but came early -- 15 minutes into my birthday in my time zone, but still the 22nd in Colorado!)

jenefee

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