I have mixed feelings about Halloween. I loved it when I was a kid, but I guess I'm OK with it being one of those things I loved as a kid, but have no interest in celebrating as an adult.
When people asked me what I was doing for Halloween, I shrugged. I was feeling reclusive, and my only plans were to catch up with my friend Kim, who had absolutely no interest in dressing up. When Kim proposed going to Valentine's in Albany to listen to music, I warned her about what we would be getting into. "It's Valentine's annual Halloween bash," I said. "I'm not opposed to going. But there will be people in costumes there, acting all goofy and stuff." "Hmmm," Kim said. "That's not really my scene."
So we didn't go to Valentine's. In fact, we didn't do anything, because it was snowing and neither of us felt like leaving our homes. But I didn't hear or see anything that made me regret my unintentional boycott of the holiday. In my mind, Halloween is really for kids.
That's why I enjoyed this piece, titled "How I Became a Halloween Grump," by Rosecrans Baldwin. In it, he bemoans how safe and saccharine Halloween has become. What was once a wild, scary and ultimately thrilling event, he writes, has been destroyed by adults, who force kids to trick-or-treat in broad daylight and never let them out of their sight. For the record, my father always drove us from house to house on Halloween, and we only visited the homes of people we knew, which I consider a pretty wise strategy. (We didn't want to die on Halloween any more than our parents wanted us to die.) But I can agree with the crux of Baldwins' argument, which is that adults ruin everything. Because they do ruin everything.
"In our semi-rural neighborhood, children are chauffeured around on Halloween in minivans, before dusk. They trick-or-treat in broad daylight, shuffling to and from houses like refugees, between colonnades of guardians, as if Halloween was now monitored by UN peacekeepers. Our nation’s one night dedicated to horror has become a soccer-practice carpool. And sure enough, the costumes are feeble, store-bought. I’d make a joke about wishing kids these days would dress like tramps, as in hobos, rather than tramps, as in Katy Perry, but Andy Rooney would probably sue me for copyright infringement."
My Halloweens were always pretty tame. I did go through a haunted house phase, where my friends and I devoted our energy to creating a truly terrifying haunted house, usually in the church basement, which was a pretty scary place. And I did live in fear that some jerky teenager would smash my carefully carved pumpkin. Back then, I loved everything about Halloween - the parties, the haunted houses, the costumes, the rumors and tall tales. I've given all that stuff up, and I don't really care to revisit it. But at the time, it was great.