For me, Halloween has typically meant going to a bar, staying out late and generating a horrible hangover for the next day. But now my relationship with my friends is more “I’ll feed your cats when you’re out of town” than “let’s take four shots before we even get to the bar.” Because of this, I’ve seen Halloween from a more family-friendly perspective this year, and concluded that this angle of Halloween is even weirder than closing down a bar with a bunch of girls dressed as sexy bottles of sriracha.
Observation 1: Yuppy, Well-Meaning City People are Competitive as to the Morbidity of Their Halloween Decorations.
I hadn’t thought about how weird Halloween decorations were until I got a dog and saw how batshit afraid she is of most of them. Mangled, disembodied hands all over your lawn? She’s gonna bark her head off at those. Zombie lady with a hole through her stomach? She’s going to run away from that like she’s in The Blair Witch Project, her frightened spike of hair popping up on her back. I had not noticed how many people in my neighborhood had women’s heads hanging from trees until I saw my dog’s horror at this.
If my dog is afraid of these things, aren’t children? What’s weird about this though is the families who have the most elaborate (read: morbid) Halloween setups are the same families who have the most exquisite bee-friendly wildflower gardens in the summer. It’s a competitive form of lawn-having that makes it ok for upstanding people to have dead child zombies crawling across their lawns. I’m not one to judge, but if you’re wondering if they’re adequately scary I will point you to one very humbled cattle dog.
Observation 2: Trick or Treating is Incredibly Weird
For the first time in my adult life, I was in a position to give out candy to neighborhood children last night. I knew they were going to come because of my neighborhood’s insane decorations.
To prepare, I bought four bags of candy because there was a 4 for $11 deal at Cub. I also bought a Pokemon candy pail from Amazon Prime Now. I threw everything together with a half bag of almond Hershey’s that I already had just for my own eating pleasure. I reflected that I had accidentally created a nightmare for any parent whose kid had a nut allergy. I had Reese’s, mini Reese’s, almond Hershey’s, Milky Ways and Peanut M&Ms. What had I been thinking?
As the kids started coming, I found myself questioning why we let kids trick or treat. From observing the parents, I concluded that it is an elaborate exercise to teach children to say “thank you.” You get to give yourself horrible insulin levels for one night a year if it means it strengthens your impulse to be polite to strangers. (Or is it that parents secretly want all that candy too, and we’re all just big kids? Maybe that.)
My candy started to run out quickly. I had no idea that kids could go through 4.5 bags of candy that fast. I was glad I had invested a whole $11 in this, plus the $7 Poke-pail. Once it got to be about 8 p.m., I thought I was in the clear, but it turned out this is when the tweens come. These kids are sneakier about taking more than one piece, and don’t have parents there to frown at them.
Our first tween was dressed as a juggalo. I let my boyfriend answer the door since I find Juggalos scary, and the movie Mad Max didn’t help with this. He said the little juggalo boy was quite nice and asked, “What are you guys cooking? Sure smells good!” (Answer: curry.) I felt flattered by this and decided not to judge little boys by their face paint.
I answered the door for a set of tweens next, one of whom was dressed as an elf. Sarcastically, he said, “Merry Christmas.” I see what he did there, and I noted his humor. This teen might grow up to be an Internet blogger.
We ended the night with about six pieces of candy left, which we pretty quickly polished off within twelve hours. I concluded that I had eaten at least two full-size candy bars worth of candy throughout the day. But hey, at least I didn’t smoke any cigarettes outside bars at 2 a.m., right?
It seems obvious to say that Halloween is weird, because that’s kind of the point of it. But here I am at 28-years-young seeing it with the fresh eyes of a dog-owning, home-renting adult handing out candy. I’m glad to live in an era when Halloween gets to be so buckwild. I imagine kids of the future will be trick or treating for chia bars and cricket pops, so let’s all eat massive amounts of delicious candy while we’re alive, friends.