Happy Halloween! My favorite day of the year is finally here. We’re having an office party today and a lot of my co-workers are dressing up. Me, I’m going as me. Had I read Kevin’s posts about last minute Halloween costumes earlier than this morning, I might have gone as Mr. Baked Potato Head.
Kids today are lucky. They have so much more to choose from, costume-wise than we did. They also have a better class of costumes. If you are anywhere near my age, surely you remember those plastic masks, the ones that left you a mere pinhole in which to breath fresh air. They were so tight against your face you could feel your own breath bouncing back at you every time you exhaled. And that cloying, synthetic smell entered every pore in your face so you smelled like plastic for the rest of the night. I used to wake up late on Halloween night gasping for air, thinking I still had that I Dream of Jeanie mask on.
In a way, Halloween was better back then. Despite the poorly constructed costumes, we had no fear. Oh sure, we had fear of ghosts and vampires and whatever else was supposed to be hauting us on Halloween, but we didn’t have fear of our own neighbors or fear of poisoned candy. We certainly didn’t have the fear of offending anyone that limits the costumes kids are allowed to wear to school today. We could be as bloody and gory as we wanted. We could be offensive in ways that would have the ACLU tackling you in the street in 2007; So we dressed up for Halloween as gypsies, Indians, mental patients, bums and hobos (the latter two later known as The Homeless or The Housing Deprived) and other stereotypical costumes. No one really paid attention to the fact that we might have been insulting someone because no one cared. And it wasn’t our intent to insult, it was our intent to just be someone else for a day. Halloween was about candy and dressing up and being scared. End of story.
Most of the boys at the time did the usual horror costumes: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and the proverbial white-sheeted ghost. They would jump out from behind the bushes and scare the girls and we would scream in exaggerated fright and run to the doorstep of the next house on the block.
We had parades at school and some of the kids would march around with fake, dripping blood and rubber masks with mutilated eyeballs. The goriness was all part of the fun. That’s what Halloween was for: shrieking and screaming through the neighborhood and finishing it off with a family viewing of Chiller Theater, munching on the candy loot while hanging onto Mom in fright.
But times have changed and we’ll have none of that gory, scary stuff anymore. Kids are vulnerable and impressionable, don’t you know? The blood might scare them. The costumes might offend someone. I mean, what if some kid in your school had his whole family murdered by a crazed ax-wielding monster? Don’t you think that costume would make him feel sad, Johnny?
But that was back in the innocent days of yore. Back before the razor blades in apples ruined Halloween for all of us. Hey, here’s a bit of trivia for you. Did you know that THERE WAS NEVER A RECORDED CASE OF A RAZOR BLADE IN AN APPLE ON HALLOWEEN? Yea. An urban legend set the tone for future years for this holiday.
Anyhow, if I were a kid today, I would be dressing up as Captain Underpants, just to piss off stuffy old principals who forget that part of being a kid is laughing at each other. Which begs the question (really, it does!):
If you were, today, a seven year old kid headed out for trick or treating, what would your costume be (taking into consideration what’s popular in the realm of mass commercialism in 2007)?