Halloween Was Fun There For A While
I have come full circle about Halloween.
As a little kid, I hated it. I was scared of going out after dark, wearing a “costume” of one of Dad’s too-large jackets plus a cheap dime-store mask.
As a young adult, I enjoyed Halloween. I liked getting the kids dressed up, and accompanying them at a distance. When they got old enough to traipse through the neighborhood without my close supervision, I loved answering the door with “You ra-a-a-anggg?” a deep-voiced imitation of Lurch, the huge “Addams Family” TV monster-like butler. Children’s jaws dropped open in amusing fashion.
Now as a geezer I am more than a little annoyed by Halloween’s emphasis on being dead. I am too close in years to being dead to see much humor in the concept.
Almost every week, I send a memorial donation after reading about a high school or college classmate who died. They did not“pass” or “go home to meet Jesus,” or “get their heavenly reward,” even though, as a Christian, I accept the existence of such things. They “died.” Blunt. Final.
I have been a pallbearer often enough to have heard the clicks of caskets being closed for forever. For me, there is nothing funny about death. I don’t dread death. But I view death about like I might view being forced to stand outside naked during a fierce storm, replete with thunder booms and lightning flashes. “Grim” is appropriate.
I do not begrudge those who enjoy decorating their front yards with tombstones, artificial cobwebs, blow-up bobbers of ghosts and goblins, etc. Those are their yards, not mine. What they do there should be tolerated in a free country because, as Thomas Jefferson noted, their decorating “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” If they get amusement from Halloween, more power to them.
But I no longer participate. I do stock up on candy, despite my wife’s health-conscious suggestions that we give away fruits instead. In the long view, she is correct. Sugar is bad for us, worsens diabetes and contributes to other health horrors. I make exceptions for my birthday, for Father’s Day, for Christmas Day and, grudgingly, for Halloween.
If kids show up, we are prepared. If not, a brother-in-law eagerly accepts the leftovers … and he gets most of them. (Shhh!)
I am pleased if young children get enjoyment from trick-or-treat processions. Climate change and improvements in ready-made costumes combine to make trekking along city streets less chilling and less hazardous. I especially like seeing babes in arms of their parents, still confused about what Halloween means but eager enough to latch on to a peener butter cup.
I enjoy a back-and-forth with teenagers:
“Are you breaking my stuff out there? Do your parents know that you are out? Do you have a criminal record? Do NOT burp in my face! (Even if they did not burp.) Why are you here? Do you expect to get something for nothing? If you are inclined to play a “trick,” do you know that I have several shotguns?”
Any and all of these, plus whatever other nonsense pops into my head, usually provoke looks suggesting anything from “Wait. What?” to “The old guy is crazy!”
I don’t want the kids to think that I am totally crazy. As a parent, I never wanted my own kids to think that I was totally crazy.
But I always like it when children think that supervisory adults just might be a little bit crazy, enough to cause some minor pain if the kids get out of line, but not enough to seriously hurt someone. And then I give them candy, which says that despite my dottiness, I might be OK.
My children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren ought to think of me as a kindly, loving old gentleman — mostly.
But when I growl, I like it if they consider whether they might be better off to stop annoying the geezer. It saves much argumentation.
If Halloween is your thing, have at it. If you enjoy having something scare you, that’s fine, too. Someone has to watch those horror movies.
I have seen more than enough real-life corpses. I get no joy from contemplating zombies.
On Halloween, I usually do not watch DVDs or read anything with a plot to it. Best to stay ready to answer the door or, if need be, to yell loudly, “Do you kids want me to grab that shotgun or call the police?”
Halloween is not pleasant for me, not any more. But it is one night out of the year. We are supposed to be a tolerant people, able to accommodate peaceable activities that differ from our idea of fun.
I can live with that.
¯ ¯ ¯
Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: email@example.com.