As a child however, I had a horrible, paralyzing fear of masks. Not just scary ones, either. Any mask could send me spiraling into a gibbering, wide-eyed black hole of terror. On Halloween, if I saw someone down the street in a mask, I would run into my house and hide under the table. I never dropped my candy, though, because even a four-year-old realizes that some things have priority over fear.
One boy I grew up with knew of my fear, and thought it was a hoot and a half. Jason would chase me around his house, wearing the scariest mask he could find. I never thought about turning around and punching him, but now I wish I had. He was very rude.
Perhaps the worst experience came the first Halloween after we moved to our new house. I was four. The mask fear still ran strong, and it took my mother thirty minutes to coax me out of the house. Finally we started doing the rounds, and I finally relaxed. Mayhaps the people in this neighborhood didn't let people walk around in masks! This truly made my night.
Of course all that joy was destroyed. On the end of the street sat a large-ish house, and the family there put on shows every Halloween. This time it happened to be Frankenstein. The wife played Dr. Frankenstein while her husband was the monster. At first the show didn't bother me. The monster remained under a white sheet, so for all I knew he was just a regular guy. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The monster emerged from the sheet. He had a green mask on. Slowly he trudged among the crowd, handing out candy to the other children. I quivered from terror, finally giving up all semblance of dignity and literally climbing up my mother to perch on her head. From there, I screamed. And screamed. And screamed. The man tried to calm me down by taking off his mask. It was the wrong thing to do.
Now, not only did he have a grotesque green face, but HE COULD REMOVE IT. Underneath he wore a human facade that I just KNEW meant that he was trying to take over the planet. For all I knew, everyone was part of this master race of face-removers. Only my mother was safe, and so I remained on her head. And kept screaming.
People had one of two reactions: laughter at the poor, deranged child, or sympathy. My mother had to walk home with me on her head, and when we got home I immediately scurried under the table. It took her two hours to get me out, and the next year I refused to go trick-or-treating. Good thing, too. I heard that year's show was something involving werewolves.
Now, I am quite fine with masks. They don't frighten me. Except those potato sack ones. Something about those just freaks me out. I don't know why. But when I watched The Strangers, I ended up under the table again. Potato sack masks are just unnatural.
UPDATE: This is a picture of Jason, that evil, evil boy who traumitized me.
I will get you back. One day, Jason, when you least expect it, I will leap onto your head and screech like a velociraptor. It does not matter that I haven't seen you in who-knows-how-long. It will happen. And when it does, you will be very, very sorry.