Halloween in the Latrine
Halloween is a nice excursion from the pressures put on us by other holidays to be festive, happy and warm. Easter is an exception however! The memory of spending a week doing egg dying, arts, crafts, and wearing pastel colored clothes in order to walk into a stuffy ass church on Sunday morning and have a wheezing 79 year old woman with an oxygen tank hand you a pamphlet with a super bloody crucified man on the cover was not a week that ever made any sense to me. Was it just me, or did they try to make Jesus extra bloody on those Easter pamphlets? It was almost as if they discovered there was a direct correlation between the dollar amounts in the collection plate and the amount of blood they put on that fucking pamphlet! If I didn’t know any better I’d say Quentin Tarentino came up with the idea for Easter.
What I like about Halloween is that, unlike Easter, it doesn’t have an identity crisis. It’s a proudly dark holiday that mostly doesn’t try to masquerade as something it’s not…well, maybe “masquerade” is not the best word to use in that sentence. I mean it’s a holiday about wearing a mask so…I mean technically everyone is masquerading on Halloween. I mean the definition of “masquerade” includes an event where one wares a mask, but I digress. The real tragedy about modern Halloween is that every year the tradition seems to get a little weaker. It seems like every year we strip away or outright change something about this holiday that somehow edges me a little closer to ‘grumpy old mandom,’ and I’d like to take a few paragraphs to subject you, the reader, to some Halloween ranting.
When I was a kid I used to get all of my candy to myself! I would get home, throw my costume in a corner and proceed to gorge on candy as if November 1st was the encroaching apocalypse. I would chew on candy to the point that massive conglomerate candy structures composed of mashed up nougat, coiled swirls of taffy and shards of Jolly Ranchers would gather in jagged clumps around my molars. These structures were so large that I had to take the stick from a Dum Dum to pry them loose. As a parent, I have had the pleasure of taking my kids trick or treating 7 times and each one of those 7 has ended with all of their candy going into a Tupperware in the cupboard, in the name of ‘Parental Responsibility.’ We tell the kids that they can “earn” it, but I’ll be honest, it mostly gets eaten by their mom (don’t tell her I told you that). Granted, we’ve learned a few things in the past 20 years about children and sugar, namely that it could be the real gateway drug (sorry weed), and we don’t have to dig too deep to make a real case for this connection. I mean candy manufacturers still make their products in pill, powder, rock and even cigarette form (you can still buy them, look it up).
When I was a kid we would actually go door to door in our own neighborhood to beg for our drugs, I mean candy. As I described before, I’ve had the parental Halloween experience 7 times and only twice have I taken my kids through an actual neighborhood. It seems like more and more parents are opting to take their kids to events or designated places on Halloween. In my hometown, the downtown businesses are burdened with this chaotic annual occurrence of handing out Halloween candy, and if that’s a little too “outdoorsy” for you the local shopping mall offers the same thing. Maybe I’m a little old fashioned here but I can remember a couple Halloweens where the conditions weren’t the best, but toughing it out made my refined carbohydrate binge at the end of the slog all that much sweeter. On second thought, being indoors is quite nice, we get it all done in an hour and it doesn’t seem to compromise the quality and quantity of candy soooo…now that I’m writing this down I’m going to have to think a little longer about this.
They say that the standard of lifestyle goes up with each passing generation, but the way these kids are spoiled with these quality Halloween costumes these days is a generational discrepancy I can’t sit by and watch quietly. My son’s first Halloween costume was a felt whoopee cushion with a little hole in the top for his face to stick out, totally comfortable, totally simple, totally adorable. It was as if the costume company actually had his well being in mind. Contrast that with the crappy stuff I had available at my local K-mart in the 1980s and you would think there was a conspiratorial effort to have us all hit by cars, set on fire, or just plain sweat us to death. In my day (that’s right, I just went full “in my day”) we had a company called Ben Cooper that made crappy, flammable, costumes that consisted of a plastic smock that was hot as hell. These flammable sweat factories came with a cheap ass mask, which had a rubber band on the back that would snap after 20 minutes of use (here’s some good examples, my favorite is the Chuck Norris Karate Kommando outfit, yes that’s supposed to be Chuck Norris: http://www.denofgeek.com/us/movies/halloween/240639/13-ridiculously-awful-ben-cooper-halloween-costumes). Contrast this with what you find in the costume isle of your local Target right now, outfits that would impress a 1990’s Hollywood costume designer. Affordable and made with real fabric, textures, props and accessories and actually look like the shit they are supposed to look like. It’s funny how progress can make you jealous and bitter, at least our kids still get to suffer through candy corn.
Finally, I just want to say that I really do enjoy Halloween and I don’t want you to think that I’m this prematurely bitter old man who pines for the days of flammable costumes and unsupervised child candy binges. I mean after all, Halloween is the one Holiday that gets those little bastards off their iPads and onto the streets to hustle for Mommy’s mini snickers habit….Ha! Just kidding, she’s really more of a Kit-Kat woman.
Disclaimer to candy companies: I wrote this post in parody, please don’t sue me, I have nothing for you to take besides my dignity…Checkmate!