Monday, October 31, 2011

#111 - Thoughts on Halloween

I'll admit it, I'm not much of a fan of Halloween. It's not just the fact that my son begins talking about Halloween in August, although that probably plays a part.

It's not that you see and receive types of candy you wouldn't see or receive any other time of the year, although that also may play a part. I'm sorry, but candy corn and those multi-colored toffee-like chews wrapped in black (usually) waxed paper are not my idea of a tasty treat. (Now if someone had figured out how to put bite-sized cheesecake candy in my bag, they would have been onto something.)

It's also not that I got trick-or-treated out when I was young. Fact is, I remember going out to trick-or-treat twice in my life - once at age 11 and the next and last time at age 12. That second experience turned me off to the entire trick-or-treating thing once and for all.

When I was 12, my mother decided I should make some sort of statement with my costume. (What that statement was meant to be, I have no idea.) Being a family on welfare, however, precluded renting or buying a statement-making costume. So my mother decided she would make my costume.

She (or maybe we, I don't recall) decided I should dress as Cousin Itt from the Addams Family. You might think such a costume would consist of a series of blond wigs somehow stitched together, perhaps some sunglasses, and a bowler or Derby hat. You'd be right about the hat and the glasses.

In those days, we lived in a rental house located in a mostly industrial area. Our nearest neighbors were a gas station and a warehouse. On the opposite of the road from us was a huge drainage ditch in which grew what we called cattails, known in Britain as bulrush and given the scientific/biological name of typha.

My mother came up with the idea of making the bulk of my costume using the plants. (Pay attention to the word bulk; I'll be coming back to it.) Those of you into crafting or with strong imaginations might be thinking "what a novel idea." You didn't have to wear the thing.

I will admit that the finished product did bear some resemblance to the character I was meant to look like. I will also admit I felt somewhat like Cousin Itt, or least I felt like I was carrying Cousin Itt piggyback.

You see, that costume seemed to weigh 30 or 40 pounds. Maybe more. After a few houses, I felt like I was stuck inside a bamboo sauna. The thing was bulky and suffocating. My mother forgot to put sufficient air holes in the costume to allow for ventilation, hydration, or breathing.

I think I lasted four houses before I took the costume off, after which, my treat intake declined and my feeling I had been tricked increased. After that night, I never had the desire to trick-or-treat again. Perhaps that was my mother's goal. She had a twisted sense about her, and since we couldn't afford dental care, perhaps she thought that was the best way to turn me off of candy. Since that night, I've also had no desire to dress up for Halloween, although I did so once as an adult. Sadly, no one understood the costume.

These days, I am content to hand out candy to those for whom trick-or-treating is a more pleasant experience. I especially enjoy handing candy out to the younger children (say seven and under) for whom trick-or-treating is a chance to escape to another world and not simply an easy way to a sugar rush (as it seems to be for the teenagers who come to our door, judging from the lack of thought put into their costumes).

For the youngest of them, trick-or-treating is still a magical event, a chance to discover and marvel at untold treasures of all shapes and flavors. They are the ones for whom Halloween is truly meant. Me, I started too late. Thankfully, they did not. Happy Halloween and safe trick-or-treating everyone!

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