Of all the autumnal holidays, Halloween is clearly the best. It’s not as inherently problematic as Columbus Day, nor is it a repetitive chore like Thanksgiving. Every Halloween is an exciting new opportunity for adventures, unique from its predecessors, with costumes, scares, and parties all built upon the trends, innovations, and current events of the previous year. And to top things off, society even becomes less judgey for a minute and deems it socially acceptable to wolf down candy and dress as slutty as one likes within the confines of the season.
Sadly, not all Halloweens are Spooktacular. Some are more poopy than spoopy, leaving many wondering why we’re collectively spending a reported $9 billion a year on this literally Godforsaken holiday. We asked people to share their worst October 31sts with us. These bone-chilling tales of blood, vomit, and romance gone awry will surely help put your own costume malfunctions and flakey friend gripes in perspective.
My mom put bleaching cream on my face one Halloween for a vampire costume. I was just slowly bleaching all night, and she was like, quit whining, go get your candy. Part of it's sad cus it’s what POC use to whiten their skin, but she didn’t even think twice to slab it all over me for a costume. It got into my eyes and shit. But it did look scary, I guess. The 90s were wild.
- Alex, New York City
I was about 12 years old and I desperately wanted to dress like Hannah Montana. My family at the time was not doing so well, financially, so I had to put together my version of a Hannah Montana costume from the Dollar Tree costume section. After coming out looking like the Great Value version of Miley, my sisters and I went trick-or-treating at my cousin’s super shitty apartment complex. One of the doors I knocked on was an apartment full of college kids. This guy in a Borat banana hammock opened the door, clearly high as fuck. He didn’t have any candy, so he gave me this half-eaten bag of peanuts he had in his hand. Before I left he called me back and took some more before he slammed the door shut. My mom made me throw all of my candy away since the gross peanuts fell out of their bag and scattered around my treats.
- Bianca, Richmond, Virginia
Broke my hand punching a subway station wall while dressed as Bruce Vilanch.
- Billy, Los Angeles
One Halloween, I was heading to a party in the Hollywood Hills with a group of friends. Due to getting a little too drunk from pregaming, I wasn't exactly performing to the best of my abilities. After parking somewhere randomly, we started walking to the party. I ended up getting separated from my friends and getting lost. This was the last memory of the evening.
The next day, I woke to find myself at Cedar Sinai with most of my costume and cell phone missing. I walked out of my room and asked a doctor what I was doing there. He informed me that I had taken an ambulance to the hospital after calling 911. Apparently, I had been maced that night for trying to get into a parked car that was not mine. Do I know why I tried getting into that car? No, I do not. But the driver of that car clearly did not like it.
After getting a stern lecture from the doctor, I headed home. I spent the rest of that day trying to piece my fragmented memory back together and started questioning what the hell I was doing with my life.
The next day, October 31, 2011. I went to my first AA meeting.
- Nathan, Riverside, California
My worst Halloween experience was DARK. I’d been diagnosed with cancer the year before and never cried once. Not even after surgery and shit. But, for some reason, that Halloween everyone had plans and I was too sick to go out and I finally cried. I sat in my car in the driveway and just wept for like, three hours.
- Jena, Miami
As a kid, I LOVED Halloween. Unfortunately, when I was about 11 years old, my appendix decided to burst right around mid-October, so I was still recovering from surgery and barely able to walk on my neighborhood’s trick-or-treat night and was forced to stay home while my friends and brother went around collecting candy. My mom set me up on our porch in costume and on a chair to look like a stuffed scarecrow with a bowl of “help yourself” candy on my lap. When kids would reach in to grab something, I would come to life and scare them. This was going great for a while and I was even getting some adults screaming until I lunged too hard and popped a stitch and had to go inside for the rest of the night so we could staunch my now bleeding abdomen.
- Colin, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
I went to a party at a mansion in the hills. I was trying to leave the ballroom area, and the door was stuck and wouldn't open so I drunkenly kicked through a glass door to "escape." I didn't see the open door two feet away. I went to the hospital, got 11 stitches, and was on crutches for a month. I almost tore my Achilles, and I had to write a check for the glass door.
- Tiffany, Los Angeles
The story starts with the bright idea to borrow some black leather gloves from my father. I was 13 or 14 years old and in the habit of borrowing leatherwear in the hopes of looking cool.
After some illicit drinking at a friend’s house, our pack of teens ventured into the night in search of excitement. Our plan quickly went awry when a group of older teens wearing balaclavas stopped us and made it clear that we would be giving them our valuables.
For whatever reason, they honed in on the gloves. Perhaps they shared my conviction that leather is always in season. I was more frightened of my father learning that I had lost his gloves than of physical violence and so refused to give them up. They proceeded to punch me repeatedly in the face.
It was the first time anyone had punched me in the face with any seriousness. I don’t remember much pain, just the sound of the thud. Luckily, their leader called them off before they got into kicking, but not before they left my face black, blue, and swollen, forcing me to make pained explanations for weeks.
I don’t even remember if they got the gloves in the end, but I’ll never forget the embarrassment. I have hated Halloween ever since.
-Michael, New York City
In high school, my friends and I planned a super fun Halloween of parties and candy and underage drinking. I was so excited. So, I put on my costume, sat in the living room and waited for them to pick me up. As we’d planned. They never showed. Never explained why, and I spent most of the night waiting for a pair of headlights to come around the corner that just never did. Worst. Halloween. Ever.
- Cameron, Los Angeles
Halloween, 2008. I dressed as a Purple People Eater, like the song. I also went all-out sexy for the first time in my life. Skin-tight. Lots of sheer, textured layers, fishnets, plus a long sparkly tail. It was my hottest costume ever, and the only picture I still have of it is one where I look like a total dork.
I set out, already tipsy, for a two-mile bike ride to the concert. Nearing the venue, passing frat boys and posing as sexy as possible atop my bike, my sparkly tail whipped into my gears. Next thing I knew, I had effectively pedaled the whole thing right up into the bike crank, so tightly that I couldn't raise my ass off the seat. As I took one hand off my handlebars and leaned back to try yanking it out, I lost control of the bike and crashed into a parked car. To disentangle myself from the wreckage, I had to rip the tail clean off my costume, splitting my sexy velour tube dress right open from behind. I was cut up, my bike was a wreck, and my costume was basically missing the whole bottom half. I limped the two miles back home, pushing my bike through a cacophony of catcalls.
- Joli, Austin My wife left me.
- Brad, Columbus, Ohio
Accounts have been edited for clarity.
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