We are now in the spookiest month of the year and it’s not because it’s nearing election time. It’s the time of ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and now zombies. Halloween comes from the Latin hallow meaning ‘the night’, and ween meaning ‘to scare your neighbors into giving you free stuff’.
Halloween dates back to the Celtic festival of Samhain where ancient Celts dressed up as Harry Potter characters and toilet papered their neighbor’s houses. While causing mischief, they got hungry and knocked on random doors rather than carrying stores of food with them. Since they had dozens of eggs, spray paint, and were wearing costumes for disguise, the occupants of the house gave them blenders, big screen televisions, and iPods.
When I was a kid, Halloween consisted of me grabbing an old sheet, ripping two eye holes, and going out trick-or-treating. I rocked that look until my mom starting buying more expensive fitted sheets with flowers; that year, the candy givers thought I was dressed as potpourri and the kids in my neighborhood took turns tucking the sheet around me and stealing what little candy I had.
The next year I moved on to the clichéd ‘hobo’ wearing my dad’s old clothes and smearing a burnt cork on my face for a beard. While trick-or-treating, we were told to wait until we got home to have our parents inspect each and every piece of candy before we ate it, but try telling that to a ten year old. I’d usually eat most of the candy before I got home and I had a bag full of wrappers for my parents to inspect. And they were less angry that I had eaten they candy and more upset that I had no booty for them.
I get up the next morning with thirty pounds of candy in my stomach, and feel great. Now in my early forties, if I have dairy before bed, I wake feeling like one of the victims in the movie Alien with something in my bowels scratching to get out.
I never really understood Halloween and I wondered why my parents sent me out begging to our neighbors. Whatever the reason, they dressed me up in a disguise so I wouldn’t be recognized by the neighbors they didn't like to begin with. Things have changed since I was a kid and you can’t get away with a homemade costume anymore. Not only do kids have to have the most expensive costume in history, but they have to be the only one wearing it which is hard to do with half of them wanting to be a vampire and the other half wanting to work the zombie. And in the end, it really doesn’t matter what they wear because their parents make them wear a coat over it and wrap them in reflective tape.
Since I own a house, I was voted to stay home and wait for the hordes of kids that invariably come barreling through the neighborhood. But of course this isn’t 1978 and there is no one coming to my house, they’re all at the mall going treating from store to store.
But I’ll be alone with the candy and we don’t get the just the generic no-name candy that goes in the little bag with the witch and the black cat on it. It’s the mini Snickers and mini Milky Ways and the Peanut Butter Cups, overflowing a bowl that the New York Giants could play the Dallas Cowboys in. After one night alone with that bowl, I’m going to be in a twelve step program with Lindsay Lohan.
But Halloween isn’t about kids and trick-or-treaters anymore. It’s a way for women to wear the same size costumes they wore when they were in elementary school. It also gives men an excuse to ogle them while trading in their khakis and Bill Gates haircut for a gladiator outfit and a mace. As for me, I’ll be on the couch Halloween night, with the television turned way up to drown out the singing of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups who will be trying to seduce me.