It seems like everybody I know loves Halloween. It’s never been my favorite. In fact, I think I might like Arbor Day more than Halloween. Not that I dislike the atmosphere inherent in the holiday, and you all know how much I love watching horror movies, but there’s always so much pressure to A) go to a party or four and 2) come up with some clever or inventive costume to wear to said parties. I’m a grown up; I thought I’d moved beyond the expectation to have a Halloween costume when I hit middle school. I remember when I loved dressing up for school on H’ween party days and not really caring what other people thought. What changed? Perhaps it’s time to again talk things over with my 8 year old self to get the bottom of this.
NOW: Hey pal.
THEN: Hi. You’ve been gone awhile.
NOW: Yeah, it’s true. Well, I went to London and had to do a lot of other stuff.
THEN: Whatever, big shot.
NOW: On the plus side, you eventually get to go to London.
THEN: I’d rather go to Disneyland.
NOW: Well, you’ll get there too.
THEN: It’s fine that you’ve not been around. I’ve been really busy too. Third grade is not all coloring and nap time. It takes a lot of concentration.
NOW: Of course. What are you learning about?
THEN: I dunno; history or something.
NOW: Right. Well, enjoy it while it lasts. Fourth grade will not be so kind to you.
THEN: Why do you do that?
NOW: Do what?
THEN: You say these weird, ominous things about stuff I haven’t done yet knowing full well that I can do nothing about it either way, being that I’m just a construct of your mind used in order to discuss nostalgia on a website.
THEN: Can I help you with something?
NOW: Yes. I’d like to talk about Halloween with you.
THEN: YES! Finally something I want to talk about. I love Halloween!
NOW: Do you? Why is that?
THEN: It’s a day at school devoted to parading around in costumes eating candy and then going home and getting MORE candy. It’s almost as good as Christmas.
NOW: But you hate scary things.
THEN: Oh, heavens yes, but what does that have to do with Halloween?
NOW: It’s a day devoted to scary things and people dressed up as scary things.
THEN: It’s not scary when it’s controlled by people I know aren’t scary.
NOW: Huh, that’s interesting. I think that must be what led me to love scary movies. Eventually, I just realized the people making them weren’t scary.
THEN: Okay, if you’re gonna talk about scary movies again, I think I’ll be going.
NOW: No, that’s not what I came to talk about. So you like getting dressed up in costume, yes?
THEN: Yeah! It’s fun!
NOW: But don’t you feel pressure to come up with something good?
THEN: Not really; I just think about what I want to be and tell Mom and she either makes it or buys it.
NOW: Oh man, yeah. Mom was a hell of a good seamstress. She’s like the MacGuyver of Halloween costumes. What are some things you’ve been?
THEN: When I was 4 I was a SilverHawk.
NOW: Ah yes, the knockoff Thundercats.
THEN: How dare you?
NOW: Sorry. So, what about when you were 5?
THEN: Those were the plastic ones with the masks with the string.
NOW: Oh, man. Those things smelled awful.
THEN: I didn’t care – I was BATMAN!
NOW: Damn right you were. And when you were 6 what were you?
THEN: A Dracula.
NOW: A Dracula?
NOW: I think you mean a vampire.
THEN: No, dummy; I wasn’t any old vampire.
NOW: But there’s only one Dracula.
THEN: There were three in my class.
NOW: I see. Now, for the life of me I can’t remember what we were when we were 7.
THEN: A Dracula again.
THEN: Yeah, man. It was a great costume. I love saying “I vant to suck your blaaahd.”
NOW: Have you seen the movie where he talks like that?
THEN: What do you think?
NOW: Ask a stupid question… What about this year? What’s in store?
THEN: Mom made a really great Darkwing Duck costume! She found an old coat at Goodwill, spray-painted an old cowboy hat to look like a fedora, made a cape and mask and cut the bill off a Donald Duck hat. It’s so cool!
NOW: Oh man! I remember that! That was my favorite costume ever. Boy, I wish that show held up.
THEN: Are you being negative?
NOW: No no, no negativity here.
THEN: Good, cuz we talked about that.
NOW: We did. I really wish I had your enthusiasm about dressing up this year.
THEN: Aren’t there things you want to be?
NOW: Well sure, but I don’t have the energy to make something I’m gonna wear once. There’s a huge amount of pressure to make either a really funny and clever costume or a really elaborate and awesome costume. It’s too much, I can’t take it. Here it is five days until party weekend and I don’t know what to be or how to be it.
THEN: You’re whiny when you’re indecisive.
NOW: I’m aware. Don’t you ever worry you’re going to look foolish?
NOW: How come?
THEN: Cuz everybody’s dressed up! You only look foolish when you’re different.
NOW: Well that’s an overly-simplified world view.
THEN: It’s not my world view; it’s my Halloween view.
NOW: Well, I wish I shared it. I wish people would just agree that dressing up is optional and just hang out.
THEN: You have fun with that. I think, if you’re this worried about a thing that should be enjoyable, I’d hate to be you when something really important comes up.
NOW: Well, you’re gonna have to be someday.
THEN: Until then, I’m going to be Darkwing Duck and eat my fill of candy, content that I’m not a knob.
NOW: This is about the time I should say, “See ya later, pal,” huh?
THEN: Yep, I’ve summed things up pretty nicely.
NOW: Right. Well, see ya later, pal.