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  October 27, 2001



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It's Halloween every day

Wearing costumes and masks is nothing new in the Hart household



By BRET HART -- SLAM! Wrestling
 When I was a kid, sure I thought Halloween was fun but I didn't understand the big hype. I mean, I'd been surrounded by costumed characters of all shapes and sizes for as long as I could remember.

 There was nothing unusual about giants and midgets, strongmen and city slickers sitting down with us for dinner at my dad's house.

 At the matches, they came out in all manner of costume from kangaroo suits to mysterious, scary masks. But to a young boy in those days, there was a big difference between wrestling gimmicks and a masquerade party. Halloween was a fun time to play dress up but wrestling was real.

 Take Archie the Stomper, for example. I was absolutely terrified of him when I was about eight or nine. I heard him on TV threatening to come over to Stu's house and rip the place apart brick by brick.

 So, one day, when just my mom and I were at home, The Stomper pulled up in the driveway and stepped out of his Caddy.

 "Holy crap!" I thought, peeking out the window, simultaneously figuring out how I was going to protect my mother from this monster -- and also where I was going to hide!

 In walks the monster and my mom gives him a friendly hug, "Oh Archie! ...," hands him an envelope and off he goes. Hmmm. He threatens to rip the house to smithereens and he'd even broken my dad's arm at the matches and yet my mom is nice to him?

 There's something not quite right about this wrestling stuff. Maybe that had something to do with why Stu only wore the cast on his arm when he went outside but inside he was cooking dinner after the most amazing recovery I'd ever seen!

 Another of the scariest monsters of all time was, without a doubt, the gruesome -- and usually bloody -- Abdullah the Butcher. In Grade 7, I silk screened a T-shirt for him, putting a lot of effort into it too. Three colours in as big a size as I could find. I'm not sure why I'd make a shirt for the guy I was the most scared of but I did and I asked my dad to give it to him for me.

 Stu surprised me by taking me around to the back door at the Pavilion and letting me give it to Abdullah myself. In those days, unless you were a wrestler, you didn't go in the dressing room -- even if you were the promoter's son.

 I was amazed at how my dad stood and talked to this monster man as if there was nothing to it and even more so by the polite and genuine way Abdullah accepted the T-shirt. He even cut off the sleeves to make it fit and actually wore it for a long time.

 When my oldest son, Dallas, was only two or three, I took him into the dressing room with me at a WWF show and big ole' Andre the Giant motioned us over with his deep droning voice, "Cooomme heere."

 To Dallas, it must have sounded like Lurch from the Adams family -- only Andre was a whole heck of a lot bigger. Dal's knees were actually shaking and I was impressed when he took a deep gulp and bravely stepped forward.

 As Andre scooped him up with gigantic hands, Dallas looked at me, wide eyed in both terror and amazement, until Andre gently set him down on his huge lap and Dal knew it was OK.

 When my youngest son, Blade, was a toddler he was known within the family for being strong-willed and stubborn. All four kids and their mom were in the car with me during a trip to Pensacola, Fla., and we purposely got very quiet so that Blade would give us a break and doze off into a nap.

 I let them all off at the movies and decided to take Blade, who was still asleep, along with me to the matches, an hour's drive away, in Biloxi, Mississippi. I roused him when we were parked at the backstage door and he was very groggy when we stepped inside. All of a sudden he became frantic because instead of being surrounded by his mom and his brother and sisters all of a sudden he saw even stranger creatures -- wrestlers in their various costumes -- rushing around.

 No matter which way Blade turned, he saw more and more scary characters and before long he was crying hysterically.

 I wanted to take him into an empty dressing room to calm him down but behind each door that I opened there was another monster that made Blade shriek even louder.

 Finally, I figured this one last room would surely be empty but when I pushed the door open there was Giant Gonzalez, 7-ft., 6-in., with a face likeFrankenstein's less handsome brother and smiling with jagged teeth.

 Finally, we found a quiet corner and Blade woke up enough to get his bearings and he was fine. In fact, maybe a little too fine. He kept chasing little Dink the Clown, (the midget wrestler, Tiger Jackson), convinced that he could take down somebody his own size.

 It was any midget wrestler's worst nightmare but no matter where the clown hid, Blade was in hot pursuit to the point where everybody was laughing about it -- except maybe Tiger.

 Then the guy with perhaps the best halloween costume of all, the toweringUndertaker, came over and scooped Blade up.

 "Hey, little guy," said the Undertaker. Blade looked right at him, pulled back and wham! -- punched him in the face as hard as he could (which was pretty hard)! I was mortified for a moment but there wasn't one big, tough wrestler there who couldn't help laughing.

 'Taker set the boy down gently while shaking his head and rubbing his face, laughing to himself as he walked away, "Feisty little kid ... just like your dad."

 The thing is, when it comes to Halloween, my kids are not just like me.

 Growing up in Stu's house, there wasn't much trick or treating. We lived too far out from what was then the edge of town for kids to come knocking at our door.

 On the rare occasions they did, it was so unexpected that we didn't even have any candy on hand so my dad would reach into a drawer and pull out some old walnuts that had been there forever because no one could figure out how to crack them open.

 The kids at the door looked at him disappointed, like, 'Hey ... we came all the way out here to this creepy old house for this?'

 As a parent, my own kids would look forward to Halloween each year and I came to almost dread it because I'd always be on the road and the only time I got to see them in their costumes was when I got home and looked at pictures.

 This year, I plan to maybe make up for lost time so if there's a bigger-than-average kid in the bunch that comes trick or treating at your door and he's dressed in pink spandex with white super hero boots, big, shiny sun glasses and tarzan hair -- forgive me for coming without a costume.

 It would be hard to top my usual outfit.

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