It's Mischief Night! I have no idea if this as important to today's kids as it was to me, but man, it wasn't uncommon for Mischief Night to be twice as fun as Halloween proper.
It's tough to equate throwing eggs with feelings of maturity, but that's kinda what it was for us. When we grew too old to dress in plastic costumes and go door-to-door for Dum Dum lollipops, Mischief Night was there for us.
Traditions varied from town to town, but for us, it was all about guiltless vandalism, staying out late, and being in places our parents wouldn't have approved of with people our parents wouldn't have approved of. Our neighborhood had a big variety in its child population, running the gamut from kids who weren't allowed to watch afternoon television until they finished their homework to drop-outs who would kick your ass for not smoking cigarettes with them. On a normal night, my friends and I would pull a synchronized scatter followed by a rendezvous back home at the sight of these scary hoodlums, but on Mischief Night, we got to be a part of their crew. (So long as we helped supply their eggs. Stardom had a price.)
Mischief Night was the easiest day of the year to prove your manhood. We didn't have to smoke or drink, or play stickball, or even know the correct angle to wear our baseball caps. We just had to hurl eggs and spray shaving cream.
In our neighborhood, the breakdown was this: You could shoot shaving cream at members of your own crew, but eggs were strictly reserved for obstacles and outsiders. To throw an egg at one of your own teammates was something of a social faux pas.
Like gangland solders comparing their pieces, everyone proudly displayed their modded shaving cream cans. Some burnt the nozzle to ensure a stronger steam of cream; others went with the more time-honored "toothpick trick." Others did both.
For me, it wasn't so much about the style as it was the quantity. One can of shaving cream packed a serious amount of ammo, but it wasn't anywhere near enough to last the duration of Mischief Night. You had to stock up, and you had to stock early. The stores around here didn't sell eggs or shaving cream to kids during the last week of October. If you swung by the freezer section, a sign above the eggs would warned that you could only buy them if you were 18 or older. It was a bit surreal. At no other time of year could anyone see such villainy in eggs.
Having enough ammo was important. Especially because it was within the rules to nail a teammate with eggs and shaving cream once they had nothing left to offer their compatriots in combat. Mischief Night was wonderful, but its godly blessings were temporary.
We'd spend most of the night vandalizing, using the shaving cream to pen obscenities on car doors, and egg yolks to stain the outside walls of the local school. I don't recall us ever being much into toilet papering trees, but honestly, if you gave any kid in the world the choice between throwing an egg and throwing a roll of toilet paper, you'd be scraping eggshells out of your eyes before you could finish the question. From our perspective, toilet paper was a needless burden on a night that we needed to carry three cartons of eggs and six cans of shaving cream across an eight block warzone.
It was good, stupid fun. So much fun, in fact, that we usually considered Mischief Night a two-day event, which carried over into Halloween night. There were at least a few years where we "ironically" trick-or-treated while covered from head to toe in shaving cream. In some screwy, roundabout way, we were in costume.
The poor people who answered those doors treated us with respect. They had to. They saw what we looked like and saw what we were carrying. One false move, and their homes would be covered in the same shit we were.
I get the sense that Mischief Night isn't what it used to be. At least, it isn't here. There will be dabs of shaving cream and cardboard tubes scattered around the streets tomorrow morning, but it definitely won't be what I saw in my childhood neighborhood, which was akin to the NYC streets after the Ghostbusters blew up Stay Puft.
"Bombing" was the term we used to describe our collective, unsavory behavior. Other towns used different titles, I'm sure. That was one of the interesting things about Mischief Night: It seems like it was "celebrated" in vastly different ways from city to city, state to state and even country to country. In the comments, talk about your own old traditions for this unholy holiday. Or die.Posted by Matt on 10/30/2008. E-mail me!