(The below is a revised reprint from one of my Open Salon blogs, November 2, 2009)
October, to those of us who live in Las Vegas, heralds a welcome relief from the intense heat of the summer months. One morning you wake up and the faint scent of autumn is in the air. You can actually sit outside at 7 a.m. and not perspire. The constant (and to me irritating) background hum of air conditioning units goes by the wayside–and so do those outrageous three-digit electric bills.
October is crisp evenings and moist morning air; leaves turning into vibrant shades of orange, yellow and fading green before they begin their graceful swirling dance of death… October is also Halloween.
I remember the Halloweens of my childhood. Before some madman–not an ad-man– decided to put razor blades, then poison, into children’s candy. I remember Halloween when the entire family gathered round to design costumes made from scratch. A piece of charcoal, an old sheet, some cardboard boxes with cutouts. Mom’s lipstick and Dad’s old pipe– even his boxer shorts were fair game. And the pumpkin carving? What a mess…but, what fun!
Those days are long gone.
Halloween in the millennium has become a playground for adults. Entire outlets have sprung up devoted to what has become a fantasy-fulfilling industry. Flesh & Fantasy balls have more attendees than any given neighborhood streets. Haunted houses are so over the top, Wes Craven should feel threatened. In the costume stores, Snow White and Wonder Women, Batman and Robin, are set for extinction based on the advice of the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) “to avoid cultural appropriation, cultural stereotypes, and costumes that perpetuate gender norms.”
From what I understand, Halloween has become publicly acknowledged by a select superstitious circle as “the High Holy Day.” And we’re not talking about celebrating saints here.
Children in my neighborhood still call out “trick or treat!” I hate to say it, but that old buzz phrase now sounds hollow to me. Perhaps I’m aware that too many parents are eager to put the children to bed early because they have their own adult Halloween agenda to attend to. Those moms and dads who don’t party watch their little ones like hawks. As well they should. There are real monsters out there. We’ve all become painfully aware of that. On All Hallows’ Eve they reveal themselves for what they really are…and we embrace them.
Personally, I prefer Mom’s lipstick, a piece of charcoal, a battered hat, a cut up cardboard box…and Dad’s pipe and boxer shorts.