Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Halloween's Demise

Someday, in the it's-coming-at-me-faster-than-I'm-willing-to-accept-it future, I’ll gather the grandkids 'round and tell them a story about how, when I was their age…

“…a half-pint of chocolate milk was cheaper than this here bottle of vodka. You see; when I was a kid, way back when you had to wait till Saturday mornin' to watch cartoons, my classmates and I would dress up in little outfits we called costumes, and we'd celebrate a holiday once known as Halloween.

"That’s right; we wore costumes. Little outfits that made us look like friendly ghosts, or sleuthing canines, or quaffed-hair superheroes, or even interstellar space-trekking officers with an uncanny knack of finding promiscuous women in virtually any galaxy we visited (though, at that age, we had no idea why anyone would waste their time with women when they could've been running 'round shootin' up aliens with their laser guns).

"Anyway, these costumes usually came with plastic masks that were held uncomfortably tight against your face with thin, angry rubber bands that would snarl themselves in your hair and snap back at you if you tried to stretch them. It had little eyeholes too, with razor-sharp edges that would gouge into your flesh every time you blinked – like them old-fashion cheese graters.…and we liked it.

"The school would usually have us parade around outside in the frigid, howling October winds...marching uphill for miles past every drug store and filling station in town, while our snot fused to the inside of our masks. And we liked it, and I’ll tell ya’ why…

“Cause later that evening, just as it was gettin’ dark, we’d scamper ‘round the neighborhood in our little costumes just a beggin’ for candy. To us, each porch light was a beacon to sweet delights. And wouldn’t you know it, folks would answer their doors. That’s right, they’d come right to the front door, like they were waiting on you…and they’d give ya candy too, right out of a giant bowl. Uh-huh, folks would give ya stuff like sweet-tarts, or sugary pixie sticks, or candy apples you weren’t allowed to eat, and the best houses gave out candy bars; them folks were tops.

“And we weren’t just runnin’ around like blind mice, neither. We’d spend weeks plotting a course that would maximize our bounty; drawing and redrawing a route in the playground dirt until we settled on a path that would produce the greatest yield. And when our calculations were correct, by the end of the evening we were practically dragging our candy-laden pillowcases back into the house.

"Then we’d feast for days on nothin’ but candy. Fueled by an ocean of sweets, we would whirl through the house in such a frenzy the walls became floors. We'd wake up days later with candy wrappers stuck to our faces and caramel-encrusted paper sticks tangled in our hair. Everything was a sugary blur, and we liked it.

“But look at you kids now. Your schools have phased out Halloween and replaced it with ‘Spirit Day’. What kind of crap is that? [in a girly voice] ‘Here, you can wear the logos of our standardized-educational system in lieu of self-expression. Now open your distorted history books to the chapter on Diluted Traditions.’

“You know, I fought for you kids back in the day. I fought against the minority interest groups that said, ‘we’re worried about the magical part of Halloween.’

“That was pure hogwash! Everyone knew kids weren’t dressin’ up like spongy short-order cooks to delve into ‘black magic’. They just wanted to have fun and collect a bunch of candy.

“But the TV news reports and automotive catalogues (back then they were called newspapers) quoted the parents as saying, ‘Our kids are aware of your subversive attempts at luring them into your satanic worship and they reject your costume diversions and sweet candy temptations.’

“Now, can any of you kids repeat that back to me?

"Yeah, that's the same puzzled look WE had.

"Despite the absurdity of such claims, public officials caved to the minority interests groups, which ultimately led to the demise of Halloween. So, the Spirit Day you know today is really just the remnants of what was Halloween. And though some adults still throw Halloween parties, it's really just an excuse for lonely singles to experiment with cross-dressing.

“And that's the story about what happened to Halloween. So, now will you kids help me push my sedan back out of the living room? I think there's still enough time to patch up this wall before your parents get home…”

Copywrite 2008 Rick Rantamaki

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