Friday, October 30, 2009

Why I Don't Like Halloween

Sad jack-o-lanternAh, October 31st. Probably my least-favorite day of the year.

I don't like Halloween.

I used to like Halloween. When I was a kid, Halloween was a time for me to dress up as one of my favorite TV or video game characters--as Luigi or Geordi LaForge or a white wizard from Final Fantasy, to name a few--and roam around the neighborhood with my family.

Halloween was only fun because it was a family event, and because I got to parade around like a dork and get away with it. Candy was something of a non-issue, as I'm not a big candy fan. I enjoyed collecting treats, but I usually traded or gave away at least a third of my haul, and much of the candy I did keep ended up getting thrown out after sitting around for a year and growing fuzzy.

Halloween became less enjoyable as I grew older. Messily carving jack-o-lanterns lost its novelty. Flagrantly geeky outfits were met with derision, and it was uncool to be seen outside with your parents. Ever. While I would have been content to continue trick-or-treating as a little kid in a bigger person's body, it was simply not socially acceptable to dress up as Sonic the Hedgehog and march around the neighborhood with a hobo. A hobo who is actually your father in disguise. Clever hobo.

The crushing blow came when I, foolishly, dressed as a LEGO minifigure when I was around 10 or 11 years old, possibly 12. My mother, who made all my costumes, did an excellent job as usual--I really truly looked like an oversized LEGO person.

I was utterly crestfallen when an old lady opened the door with her bucket of candy in hand and asked me, "Are you a banana?"

Halloween died, right there.

The self-consciousness hit me at full force, and the magical whimsy of escaping reality in the guise of something I loved became little more than a childish charade. No amount of candy could heal my broken plastic heart.

I did eventually recover from the embarrassment of wearing a nerdy costume in public--since then I've dressed up for two anime conventions and a few more Halloweens, and I leave the house wearing pajama pants with worrisome frequency--but whatever joy I once got from Halloween has largely remained in the past.

And the older I get, the more things I find that make me actively dislike Halloween.

I won't fault you if you argue otherwise, but Halloween is a celebration of all things terrifying, grotesque, occult, and destructive--it's the one day of the year where society as a whole embraces the things I eschew. It's the one day where I feel isolated from my friends because I want to have nothing to do with Halloween, which, by extension, means I want to have nothing to do with those who celebrate it.

I'm always torn, because if I stay at home, I feel like a jerk, and if I go out with even my closest friends, I never want to do anything anyone else wants to do, which makes me feel like a jerk.

I'll hand out candy at the door. That's fine. It's everything else about Halloween that makes me want to hide away from the world until it all passes over.

I'm too squeamish for violent horror films, and I'm too fond of feeling safe in my own home for the psychological ones; I don't like being scared. Gory zombie costumes and a jar of brains on your doorstep don't help, either.

Spirits and magic and demons are really popular around Halloween, and while I'm totally down with them being a part of real-world religions and works of fiction alike, I get uncomfortable when people start treating them as something halfway between religion and entertainment. Sure, break out the Ouija board; it could be harmless fun, or I might get possessed by a demon! You never know until you try!

Bobbing for apples: Bleaugh.

I'm all about responsible parenting, and no matter how much fun I had trick-or-treating as a kid, in retrospect it seems like Halloween encourages children to assume that their neighbors all owe them something, and that a mountain of something bad for you is, in fact, quite good. Also, Halloween trains children to lurk in the dark. Criminals lurk in the dark, you know. Maybe handing out candy makes me a bad person.

I'm a bit of a neat freak. A proliferation of fake cobwebs and mushy pumpkins really doesn't improve the aesthetic situation of the season.

Lastly, eggs and toilet paper belong on a grocery list, not on my house or in my trees. Thank you.

Enjoy your Halloween; I'll be hiding out here until whenever I have a family of my own, children and all, and can have fun trick-or-treating with them the way I used to have fun trick-or-treating with my family. And maybe, just maybe, one day they'll see past the sketchy costume parties and the cheap slasher flicks and realize that the best Halloweens were the ones spent walking the streets with a hobo by their side.

Clever hobo.


Storyteller said...

Out of curiosity, what is your favorite holiday?

Flashman85 said...

Christmas is my favorite holiday, followed by Thanksgiving. And... I guess Arbor Day is up there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I have a different halloween experience. My mother is crazy, so halloween was the holiday when she was the least crazy; Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter ranking high up there on over the top crazy antics. I'm opposite then; I am a huge grinch about Christmas cheer and would rather spend the day far far away from most of my family. Critter is trying to work on improving this outlook on holidays. I wish you the best today in your attempts to hide, as I can empathize even if I enjoy Halloween. :)

zharth said...

I think I could have written this exact same entry, word for word - only, about Christmas and not Halloween (okay, so maybe "word for word" is an exaggeration :p). I guess it just goes to show: different strokes, as Halloween is probably my favorite holiday of the year. And one of its charms is that there's a lot to love about it from an adult perspective. For me, at my age (and social position), it's not about candy and costumes - which is still fun - but horror! Then again, I like "all things terrifying, grotesque, occult, and destructive". So, vive la différence!

Loruxz25 said...

Yeah.... Halloween died for me at about the same time. Now I feel the same way.

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Light Warrior said...

I'm bummed about your dislike for Halloween, although I understand it. I love dressing up; it's just FUN! I have a feeling you agree with me. The violent horror films, the occult, and the other stuff you prefer to eschew? Eschew away. I do. I ignore all that weirdo stuff. Dressing up if fun, though! It doesn't have to be creepy, either. I considered dressing up as Kerry Wood, Chicago Cubs pitcher.
But I, too, was crushed one recent Halloween, when I dressed up as the COOLEST character ever: the "Red Mage" from Final Fantasy. I had the right colors, the sword, the cape, the white hair, the feathered hat. I was decked, and I felt AWESOME! Until one party-goer asked me, "So, are you supposed to be a pimp?"
I had intended to dress up as a character who, in my mind, represented the most accurate symbol for nobility and righteousness, and some guy thought I was a pimp! How devastating.
But I don't let that deter me from dressing up on Halloween. That still remains fun for me. I let the weirdos do their own thing.