Since when did Halloween become a week-long event? That’s my first question.
When I was a kid the whole holiday lasted three hours. If you were lucky, and didn’t get egged by the neighborhood toughs in your first hour out. Or mugged. That happened sometimes, too. I grew up in Brooklyn. Pre-Bratton.
Assuming you remained unyolked and un-robbed, you got one night. You grabbed your sugary lucre, went home, ate until you puked, and were done. If your parents were like mine, the dog inevitably “ate” your bag of candy sometime on November 1st — well before you could get to the much-coveted Milky Ways in the bottom. This not-so-white lie earned the aforementioned mutt much undeserved enmity. It saved my parents, though, from the true horror of a week-long sugar binge with its attendant mood swings, trade wars, and chocolate stains. I get it now. I plan, in fact, to use the exact same tactic with Myra-Jean. Thus are such things passed down through the generations. I surely have ancient forebears who said: “Forsooth, my lad — she hath eaten your sugarplum.” Further back, on the Siberian plains, my Mongol ancestors just ate the dog.
Anyway. The point is, Halloween goes on for fucking ever. It’s three days away and I’m already sick of it. I’m sick of the candy, the cake pops — what the hell are those anyway? — and the juice boxes. Which, incidentally, I’m always sick of. But more so now. I’m sick of people walking around with screws sticking out of their temples, blood slashed across their necks, and axes in their skulls. I’m sick of everything that is, or could be construed to be, scary. Have you tried explaining such things to a three-year old?
“Mommy? What’s a vampire?”
“A vampire? Um, just, well, he’s a sort of clown, honey.”
“Why does he have big teeth?”
“Well, he’s sort of a…cat clown.”
“Why does he have red on his teeth?”
“Red? Um…catsup! He’s a cat-toothed, catsup-eating clown! Silly vampire!”
We’ve had questions about all of it. And we do our best. Ghosts? Clowns in sheets. Werewolves? Big puppy dogs. Mummies? Tape clowns. Witches? Lady clowns. Cobwebs? October is spider season! Thank God we haven’t come across one of those Scream masks yet, but it’s just a matter of time. I don’t think I’ll be able to clown my way out of that one. I mean, we’re talking about my kid, here. She’s terrified of leaf blowers. How’s she going to feel about a black-robed, over-sanguinated crazy-face? My guess is not good.
So, there’s the sugar. There’s the fear. Let’s not even discuss the costume-related fights, expenditure, and indecision. “I want to be a skunk. No, a bunny. No! A horseless carriage. I’m a zebra. I’m a bathtub! I don’t want to wear a costume! I DON’T WANT TO WEAR THAT COSTUME!!!! AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!
Then there are the parties. So goddam many of them! What is this, Christmas? Are we in a season now? Every block has a party. Every shopping area has an “On the Boo-levard.” Every school does a Halloween “fest” of some kind. Many are fundraisers. You feel you should go. Some of them are fun. Some are not. Most have alcohol. This is good, as all are crowded, loud, and frenetic. I don’t drink, however, and neither does my daughter. The best we can hope for is a shot of protein to keep us going, but unfortunately so much stimulation is less than conducive to sensible eating. Plus, try getting rice and beans down a kid’s gullet when a lollipop is permanently jammed between her teeth. Want to meet Freddy Kreuger for real? Give that sucker a yank.
And with each party, its aftermath. Smeared face paint. Bedraggled costume. Post-sugar meltdown. Sleep, an unwanted diplomat, ejected from the country. Chaos ensues. Rioting. Protective gear. The child is in tears. The grown-ups are in tears. The dog is in tears. She knows what’s coming.
Then, the next day, you wake up and do it all again. We have another party this afternoon. We’re all tired. It’s 90 degrees outside. I’m going as an unshowered parent in shorts and a tee-shirt.
As for MJ? Judging by yesterday’s performance she’ll be going as a typical three-year-old: naked, mad, and demanding confections.
Happy Halloween, all!
Week, that is.