Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When Sprawl-o-ween eats October

Only four more shopping days to Halloween. That means our Halloween tree has been up for three weeks.
As Halloween trees go, ours is modest. It’s about 4-feet tall, is decorated with tiny rubber bats, some Jack-O-Lantern tinsel and has funereal black boughs to match my mood as we enter the Halloween home stretch.
Growing up, I never knew Halloween was anything but a single day, B-list holiday. It didn’t mean as much to me as Christmas, Easter or any of the other candy-plus-vacation holidays.
I’d dress up like a cowboy or an astronaut and go out and haul candy home in an old pillow case.
I dressed up purely for the candy. I didn’t harbor any childish ambitions to actually become a cowboy or astronaut. Back then, my only ambition was to become a boy who didn’t have to go to school.
Times change. Today, Halloween has become a month-long Caligulian candy fest. It has me wondering if the American Dental Association isn’t behind the whole spread.
Of course, the kids love it. Sprawl-o-ween means all of October is studded with adults handing out cheap candy at banks, drive-thrus and at parties in grocery stores and even church basements where you’d think a pagan holiday that tips its hat to Satan would be tsk-tsked by the holy folk.
No sign of that. Halloween is harmless to all but the dour fundamentalists who view it as another unholy assault on all that’s decent in America.
So I’m all for that.
But I just don’t get how this of all holidays became so super-sized. How in this age of childhood obesity, wanton candy distribution has yet to be demonized is a mystery.
I suspect many adults revel in the holiday for escapist opportunities. There’s nothing wrong with that. Life can be such a slog.
Me, I need less escape and more normal. With the glaring exception of near-zero income, man, I’ve got it made. I enjoy ample bar time, have a wonderful and understanding wife, and the kids are still at a tender age where a single glare will cease their sass.
That’s hardly all. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-1, author Keith Richards and I are now colleagues, and no matter what happens on election day, not a single vote for Bush/Cheney will be tallied.
Given the way my life is turning out, I’m surprised I don’t see kids shuffling up my sidewalk dressed as me. You’d think being me would be more aspirational to many aimless youth than, say, dressing up as a fireman.
My seasonal grouchiness is in direct contrast to that of my ‘weenie lovin’ wife -- and that’s as dangerous a line as you’ll find in a family-friendly blog.
She loves Halloween. The tree was her idea.
I guess much of my pique has to do with bats.
Not the rodent kind, mind you.
The Louisville Slugger kind.
For the past few years the monster that has become Halloween has devoured my precious post-season.
There are just too many Halloween-related events when baseball is at its most sublime. And with each passing game, I’m one day closer to the baseball Siberia that coincides with the cruelest months of the year.
Take last Halloween. Val was invited one of those over-the-top theatrical Halloweens where every room is decorated and all the guests look like extras from a movie where everyone gets slain.
It sure killed me because it was held during Game 4 of the World Series between the Phillies and Yankees.
Val -- and I told you she was understanding -- knew my aversion to dressing up as anything but an underemployed blogger and went easy on me.
She got out some old cat whiskers, tail, ears and the like.
While she was a come-hither kitty, and I wound up being a real sour puss.
I tried to be nice, but was furrious, er, furious to learn people who are into Halloween are cruelly judgmental of people who are not.
They looked at us like we didn’t belong. They made us feel inferior. They wondered who’d let us in.
For the first time in my life, me, a white man with cat whiskers, knew what it was like to be oppressed.
The sting of discrimination stuck in my paw, er, craw.
Sort of like the Halloween that ate October.


Emma said...

I enjoyed every witty word - thanks. I too have an issue with the commercial take on each of the holidays, extending them to the point where by the time they finally arrive I'm weary of them. Shall I say it? I miss the old days!

Chris Rodell said...

I'm sure you feel the same as I, Emma: I never thought someone as hip as I would be, consarnit, talking about the old days. I guess I'm just fearful for the year 2020 when Halloween will overlap with the Fourth of July.

Thanks for reading, my friend!



Keith Pyeatt, author of paranormal thrillers said...

I actually enjoy Halloween, but I'm good at tuning out the fuss until it's close. I can tune in now that it's almost over. Except for the stomach aches and cavities. And cleaning up fake spider webs, disposing of rotting jack-o-lanterns, and figuring out where to store the plastic fangs.

I notice Thanksgiving and even Christmas decorations already crowding out Halloween displays in stores, and I suspect that's a clue to why Halloween keeps expanding. It's a way to stretch out "The Holidays," a time of good cheer and relentless spending.

At least there's candy for October.

Chris Rodell said...

I wish I wasn't so grouchy about something so harmless. As I point out, I enjoy my normal so much it needs no enhancing. Funny, my wife thinks the opposite. Hmmm . . .

I've been cranky lately, Keith, because our new puppy is robbing us all of sleep. I'm a zombie this Halloween.

Glad to see things are going well for you in the new house. Happy Halloween, my friend.