This week's blog post is by WDP host Matt Rocco, a "metrosexual" dad who works in the arts and lives in Chicago's Edgewater Glen neighborhood with his non-white, non-dad wife, Professor Foster, and his2-year-old daughter, Viva.
The illustrations are all by Viva. (Medium: crayon on paper.)
Now that I'm a dad, I finally "get" the family-friendly aspect of Halloween. A few years ago it seemed like the kiddie costume parades, the pumpkin carving, and the trick or treating part of Halloween was just a consolation prize for testosterone-depleted dads too old and too married to go to parties full of Sexy Rainbow Brites, Naughty Nurses, and Slutty Peanut Butter Cups. While I can't say I'm not occasionally wistful for the times spent with 25-year-old Strawberry Shortcakes in a push-up bra, the arrival of a baby has cracked the code of the traditional facets of America's Second Biggest Merchandizing Holiday ™ for me.
This week I'm dressing up my daughter Viva as a bumblebee (bumbles being the most adorable variety of bee). I even bought supplementary striped leg warmers when the costume that arrived from the Halloween elves at Amazon seemed under-embellished. Giving out tiny chocolate bars to borderline diabetic children whilst counting all my favorite geek properties - the Thors, the Iron Men, the Captains America - is a blast. Walking down the street chumming it up with the other parents, most of whom are pretending to drink travel mugs full of coffee, but almost all of whom are actually surreptitiously chugging hooch while pulling a wagon full of toddlers, is delightful. And free candy? Hey, what's not to like?
Here's what I DON'T get, and what, as someone who has to walk around town with a toddler in tow, downright annoys me: the "scary" aspect of Halloween. I know, I know, that's what "All Hallows Eve" is probably supposed to be about, honoring the dead, or communing with the dead, or scaring the dead away, depending on which of the many supposed origins of the Official Holiday of Orange and Black you read. But, if I recall my CCD classes correctly, Christmas is "supposed" to be about the birth of a messiah in the ancient Middle East - now it's about listening to that f#$&ing "Wings" song over and over again while you punch a lady in Bath and Body Works for the last pomegranate scented candle. Things change. Culture marches on.
It's not that I don't love scary stuff! Stories about hitchhikers who died on this here road 20 years ago tonight (!), movies about long haired Japanese girls climbing out of televisions to smoosh your face, boxes of Frankenberry - I love all that stuff. But I DON'T like explaining to my kid what the terrifying billboard for the latest $50/ticket Haunted Insane Asylum is all about. (Do they even have non-haunted insane asylums anymore? Seems like they all became haunted at some point soon after World War II.) I DON'T like trying to avert my toddler's eyes from the latest bloody-unzipped-face makeup kit hanging on the bottom shelf in the drugstore, and I DON'T like trying to keep her away from the Dad (or more likely, the drunk uncle) dressed like a peeling-faced Joker at the Halloween parade. Can't we finally cut Halloween's last ties to pagan spirit chasing and make it all about tiny bags of M&Ms for the trick or treaters and about drunken state school graduates dressed as Sexy Walter White in a half-unzipped meth-cooking suit for the bar crowd?
Here are the three "scariest" aspects of Halloween I'd like to see stopped:
Filling your yard with pun-laden headstones, severed limbs, and hanging corpses - this seems more like littering than landscaping to me. Halloween homeowners, re-evaluate your choices! You didn't build a charming faux-gothic camp-fest like Disney's Haunted Mansion, you dumped a bunch of googly-eyed plastic skeletons from Target in your bushes and went back inside to eat orange cream Oreos while I have to look at the mess. Oh, and that pulled cotton crud that's supposed to look like "spider webs" on your porch? It looks more like stretched out winter coat stuffing and I'm pretty sure it causes cancer.
One pumpkin on your porch is tasteful. Twenty rubber mummies is a public nuisance.
Dressing up like Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, or that Edvard Munch-faced guy from the Scream movie and running around your neighborhood with a plastic butcher knife? Why are you not under observation in a hospital? You aren't scaring anyone, really, you're not going to get any play from the Slutty Strawberry Shortcake chicks drinking Shock Top on Southport, and you're kind of bothering the children. And why are you bothering the children? Because you are role-playing your barely suppressed psychopathic tendencies. Plus, your tennis shoes look really stupid with the rest of the outfit.
Does your father know you're dressed as a sexy witch?
Everyone hates teenagers, but everyone especially hates teenagers at Halloween. They probably even hate themselves, which explains their heavy eye makeup and awful taste in music. Teenagers aren't cute kids, so no one wants to see them dressed as bumblebees, and they aren't sexy adults, so no one wants to see them dressed as Slutty Doc McStuffins. Not yet. So, they stumble around aimlessly, sometimes screwing up your car's finish with eggs and shaving cream, sometimes strewing your neighbors' plastic skeleton-laden lawn with Charmin. They terrorize little kids, they annoy old folks, and half of them are wearing the aforementioned Scream masks. LAZY! At least have a little cinematic geek chic and dress like Leatherface. Teenagers should do what teenagers do best - sulk in their parents' basements and "sext" each other.
The insane growth of Halloween over the last several years has been kind of fun, and for one month a year those pop-up Halloween stores can make up forget about the abandoned Borders, Circuit Citys, and Linens-N-Thing that litter our commercial zones. But it's time to hand the skeleton keys of Halloween over to the people it should really be for: kids under 11 and buxom girls over 21.
As for you teenagers - get off my fake graveyard lawn!
Your Joker costume? Too scary. No tiny Snickers for you.
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