Today is Halloween, and officially marks the first of 25 years in which I have not dressed up or handled candy (whether giving or receiving, and yes, I know that sounds dirty, and I have no regrets). Instead, I am limited to wearing my Hello Kitty Halloween shirt and doing my special Halloween dance which comes with an original Halloween song that goes as follows:
IT IS HALLOWEEN
IT IS HALLOWEEN
IT IS HALLOWEEN
I performed this for The Boyfriend this morning. I don’t think he fully appreciated it because he just kind of stared at me flailing about on the lawn and shrieking out the chorus at the top of my lungs and told me to get in the car. Maybe it’s the lyrical minimalism that doesn’t appeal to him, or the lack of pulsing synths. At any rate, I expect the death metal remix to be released within the next year.
Somewhere along the lines it became a rule that if you’re over the age of 12 you’re not allowed to costume up and beg strangers for candy. There is another rule that says if you are any age ending in -teen you are supposed to go around the neighborhood wearing “ironic” T-shirts that say things like “This Is My Halloween Costume” because you’re so sarcastic and edgy, man, I’m totes jelly and want to hang with you and listen to Fall Out Boy. The final rule is that once you reach drinking age, you get to wear the same costumes you did as a kid but with the addition of the adjective “sexy” and down jello shots until you vomit your liver out of your eyeballs. Though I am indeed at least of drinking age, this last one is sadly out of reach for me, due to the fact that mixing alcohol and my anti-convulsant meds will, to paraphrase my doctor, “straight up kill [my] ass.”
All of these rules suck. I can understand not wanting to reward people for having shitty costumes, especially adults who should have the fine motor skills by this point to put together something even mildly acceptable, but what about those of us who actually put stupid amounts of effort into it? “But you have conventions to cosplay at now,” the anti-grownup-Halloween fascists will declare. This is very true, and very enjoyable, in fact, except for one very important thing: the complete lack of candy as a reward for walking around in weird clothes all night. Halloween at its core is the one night of the year when the awkward nerd kids like myself can finally shine. What’s that? You threw a sheet over your head and you’re a ghost? That’s precious. Me? I’m a screen-accurate Princess Leia, bitch. And this is my real hair that I grew out all year so I could put it in the proper diameter buns ESPECIALLY FOR HALLOWEEN.
But even worse than this is the fact that opportunities for anyone to trick-or-treat the old fashioned way are disappearing faster than ever. Walking door-to-door has been replaced by a Trunk or Treat abomination in many locations, where children are taught that it’s totally cool to get into a stranger’s car if they have candy, and also told that the mere act of accepting candy has condemned their souls to burn in Hell for eternity (totally worth it for the candy corn alone). This is something I never understood, by the way. If Halloween is supposedly blasphemous and evil, then by corralling all of the neighborhood kids into your church parking lot and/or handing out those stupid Chicktracts to either save our souls or scar us for life — I was never sure which of those was their ultimate goal, I mean, sweet mortal Jesus, what better way to celebrate any holiday than a terminally ill child and watching your friend die in the middle of the street — aren’t you still celebrating it yourselves, regardless of intent? It can’t even be argued that it’s permissible because it’s “for a good cause” when you consider that kids eschewing candy in favor of collecting pennies for UNICEF are apparently still going straight to the lake of fire. What kind of message does that send? “Love thy neighbor, kids, except on Halloween, otherwise you’re going to spontaneously combust and get face-humped by Satan. ”
Then there’s the trick-or-treating events at shopping centers and malls across the country, which seem anti-climactic to me if not for the fact that if I want to watch a bunch of kids dressed weird while they walk around at the mall, all I have to do is camp out in front of Hot Topic for a few hours (if you overprice it and add a fake vintage wash, they will come). I understand that we’re trying to make Halloween safer for kids to make sure that nobody gets poisoned or eats a razorblade-infested apple, though handing out apples at Halloween is in itself a severe offense punishable by a thorough TP-ing of the house after everyone goes to sleep, but then I remember that oops, all those supposed cases of poisoned candy from strangers were utter bullshit and the small number of needle-hidden-in-candy incidents that have occurred were so minor that nobody even needed medical attention, let alone died from it. In fact, most cases of non-accidental child poisonings can be traced back to the freaking parents. Which makes sense, I guess, since they need to keep up the ruse somehow in order to continually allow themselves to steal the best pieces of candy out of their kids’ haul under the pretense of “this one looks slightly unwrapped.”
Yeah, mom. It took me 20 years, but I finally figured out your game. That candy was perfectly fine, you just wanted all the Milky Ways to yourself and disguised it as caring for my health and well-being. That being said, it is a brilliant scheme and I totally look forward to sending my future children out to collect candy so that I can pick through it and “save” their lives.
The reason these sterilized versions of Halloween bother me so much is because it removes the thrill of the hunt that I felt as a kid. Halloween was the most important holiday of all to mini-overlord — additionally, the most awesome part is that being a Jew means I get two Halloweens (scroll down to #4 and remember that I feed on your envious tears) — meaning that costuming and even being able to participate in the festivities was the most serious of business. The amount of candy you received was directly proportionate to how awesome your costume was and how cute you were when you reached the door. I’ve trick-or-treated while deathly ill. When I was two, my parents asked me if I needed to use the restroom before we got started. I lied and said no. Then I peed myself in the driveway because going to the bathroom would have delayed trick-or-treating and meant I’d have to shave at least two houses off of my route. That’s dedication right there. You just don’t get that kind of excitement and determination when you know that the amount of candy you get has been predetermined and is exactly the same as the kid in the shitty robot costume made out of unpainted cardboard boxes. You don’t get to frolic among fake tombstones and motion-activated plastic skeletons hanging from the neighbor’s porch and pretend you’re a super-brave explorer of haunted houses. You don’t get to carefully plan your route with your trick-or-treating buddies, you don’t get to go to the rich neighborhoods where they hand out the whole candy bars instead of that fun-sized crap… it’s soulless, and it kills me to think that by the time my future children are catapulted out of my lady regions, this is all that will remain for them. We are leaving them a ruined kingdom, the smoldering ashes of what Halloween once was.
But I guarantee you that much like cockroaches after the apocalypse, those black and orange-wrapped taste abortions will still be around. Seriously, who actually likes those, besides old people who lived through the Great Depression and had no choice but to like them or else starve to death? Did you know they’re actually supposed to be PEANUT BUTTER FLAVORED? Whoever invented them has clearly never tasted peanut butter in their lives. At least the next generation will still know the disappointment that comes with finding half of their treat bucket lined with the damned things.
I understand that a lot of people will probably read this and think I’m obsessive or immature. To this I say “yes.” But then, if you haven’t figured that out by now, there’s really not much hope for you.