Monday, November 4, 2013

When Halloween used to be fun

Forgive me as I put on my maroon bathrobe and flannel lined heal-less slippers and play the part of Grumpy Old Man.


When I was young, Halloween was just one day.  We would wake up in the morning and scrounge for old clothes from the parents' closet so we could dress up like an army guy or a disco dancer or a bum.  If you were rich, you bought a $0.75 mask from the drug store that was held together by a strand of rubber floss and had a mouth slit that tried to cut a second breathing hole into your chin.  The only costume shop we would ever think of visiting was Goodwill and the only make-up we needed was found in our sisters' medicine cabinet. (The bruising looked so life-like.)

We could dress up for school, but our teachers remained unimpressed with a "nice costume, ass, here's your math test."  There may have been a costume parade, but mostly it was an excuse to dress like an army guy or a disco dancer or a bum at school.  No one really cared what you came as; unless, your sister forced you to dress like a girl so convincingly that it prompted the principal to ask about the new girl, thus scarring you for life (or so I'm told).

And then we came home, we grabbed the biggest pillow cases we could find, and Trick or Treated.  We even had the gall to Trick or Treat in the dark. By by the time we got back at 8:00 pm or so, we had so much candy that our mothers made us store whatever didn't fit in the candy drawer in the freezer. Of course that's after we sorted all the candy on the floor by like/dislike and ate so much sugar that by the time we went to bed, we fell asleep with our eyes fully open and limbs twitching like the last DumDum sucker we just ate was a taser.

Now-a-days Halloween is about theatrics.  Store decorations start the day after Labor Day and merge with Christmas about October 15th, in what I call Bloody Santa Claus.  A trip to the pumpkin patch as a kid was:
  1. Go to pumpkin patch
  2. Buy pumpkin ($3.00)
  3. Leave pumpkin patch
Now it's:
  1. Go to pumpkin patch
  2. Take hayride ($5.00/person)
  3. Go through haunted --but not scary -- house ($2.00/person)
  4. Eat "homemade" barbeque sandwich ($6.00/person)
  5. Pet animals at petting zoo ($1.00/handful of goat nuggets)
  6. Go through the corn maze ($2.00/person)
  7. Pick out pumpkin (FREE)
  8. Wind through gift shop with overstimulated 3-year-old who wants to buy every piece of "ol' fashion" candy she sees (up to $1,000,000,000)
  9. Buy pumpkin ($3.00)
  10. Take pictures of child with pumpkin (FREE if you remember to bring your own camera or don't lose your phone on the aforementioned hayride)
  11. Go home
And there's something Halloween-y EVERY WEEKEND!  Amusement park Scarefest, Boo at the Zoo,  Trunk or Treats, it goes on and on.

That's because Halloween isn't a day anymore, it's a season.  What we knew as Halloween has become Beggars Night, and it may or may not reside on October 31st.  To find out when its "legal" to Trick or Treat in your neighborhood you need to consult some sort of oracle (like a wife who reads the newspaper).  When we were kids, we all knew that October 31st was the one night where we could shake down our neighbors for some of the sweet stuff--even if it was a school night!  Now, if October 31 isn't the official Beggars Night, your neighbors have a full legal right to give you a Mars Bar full of resin, or worse, canned vegetables.

I could go on about how the "fun sized" candy have gotten smaller (they're more like "sad sized"), or how all women's costumes make them look like prostitutes, but I won't.  Instead, I'll just stick to those holidays that haven't been ruined by The Man.  Holidays like Arbor Day or National Penguin Awareness Day.  Although I know its just a matter of time before Skyscraper Appreciation Day becomes Skyscraper Appreciation Season.  Pretty soon we'll all forget that August 10th is the day we should commemorate William Van Alen, the primary architect behind the construction of the Chrysler Building, and instead spend the week shopping at all those Skyscraper Day appliance sales.

No comments:

Post a Comment