Thursday, October 31, 2013


Surely it's just me, detached from the dramedy of active parenting, but the thrill is gone from Hallowe'en.

The arc of anticipation is so long now, lifting off in late August, that it can't hold its own weight and collapses before today can arrive.

Is it about candy? Who can't get candy anymore?! Horror? Pick a channel, pick a theater, any day of the year: Torture porn to your heart's desire.

What makes Hallowe'en so special anymore?

I dreamed up this thesis last week walking the dog, working myself into a proper lather when I passed a duplex on a four-lane road near a busy intersection. The posted speed is 40 mph (25 when the school across the main road is open) but everyone goes 50 or faster. The sidewalk in front of the duplex suddenly disappears into a ditch.

Yet one apartment has each front window framed with little blinking orange lights, and paper decorations of ghosts and pumpkins.

Who in their right mind is gonna come to this house for trick or treat? Who's gonna navigate the nighttime dangers?

You can tell already my thesis dies for lack of support, which I realized with more dog walks. A kid probably lives there, or visits there, and the occupant has decorated for the kid's sake. If no one shows for trick or treat, it really doesn't matter.

Hallowe'en, as I've written before, remains for the kids.

So it really is just me. In the remove of children and childhood, the holiday for me has faded.

I'm one bad mother fuddy-duddy.

Still liking the adoption of El Dia de los Muertos
as an alternate celebration.
From my vantage, the holiday is temporary Hallowe'en superstores and their ghoulish business model of occupying the exoskeleton of whatever business failed during the year. 

By August their DayGlo®™ orange banners over the old store signs signal the occupation, and the selling of shock and schlock that will then ensue until today.

From my vantage, Hallowe'en is countless stories of inappropriate women's and children's costumes, stories meant for maximum tongue-cluck. If accurate, which I doubt, so what?! If no harm, then no foul. Let the day work its wiles, and tomorrow is another day.

From my vantage, Hallowe'en is a gun shop in town advertising a "Spooktacular" 50 percent off gun cleaning.

So very far from what I remember.

What I remember is that the night of Hallowe'en was a big letdown. The holiday was about imagining and planning costumes, about drawing spooky pictures, about the idea of candy and being attuned for imagined changes in the weather that day.

Actual trick-or-treating? It's cold and dark. No one can really see your costume long or well enough to appreciate it, and you certainly can't see out of it. Houses are scary enough at night without some jerk grownup spooking it up for the occasion, and I'm a big wuss. As a kid and then as a kid schlepper, I soon just wanted to go home.
(Here's my proposal: Each house buys three bags of bite-size candy … a kid comes to your house, give the kid one whole bag. After three kids, you're done. The kid's got all the candy he/she needs after five minutes of work, and we can call it a night.)
It's almost hard to imagine that at one point in our kids' lives — two actually! — we went over to another family's house for dinner, then joined them trick-or-treating in their neighborhood.

Our daughter had become friends with their youngest daughter through softball, and they were a close pair for a while. I think one year, in fact, they went out as a pair of dice. The family lived on the east side of Watt Avenue, a clear step or two higher in the economic strata from the west side where we lived. Maybe we believed the talk that the best candy came from that side of the street; whatever, it's instructive to note we didn't trick-or-treat in our neighborhood.

We're so far from that today. Nancy and I this morning realized we forgot even to buy Hallowe'en candy for the five or six groups that'll show. It'll be touch and go this afternoon.

Happy Hallowe'en, if you must. It's the 75th anniversary of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast, after all. 

And don't call me Shirley.

Addendum: Half a block past the mural I wrote about last week, someone firing a gun from a passing car killed one Hallowe'en party goer and wounded six others on Del Paso Boulevard Sunday. In scarcity we bare the teeth.

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