Friday, October 29, 2010
WARNING: These are the bitter musings of a bald, toothless, wretched old poop. Unlike in THIS RANT (and please be sure to let me know when you post something about it yourself!), I offer no solution to any problems. This is just kvetching for the sake of hearing myself type (which is not quite the right way to phrase it, but you know what I mean.) These pathetic thoughts will no doubt sour your entire weekend, as well as leave you yearning for a future when maladjusted crabapples like me are forcibly euthanized. If you choose to read what follows, I will not accept responsibility for your misery. You may end up depressed, suicidal, and lacking the will to do anything productive for the rest of your life.
Other than that, you should find this an enjoyable read.
When I was a kid, Halloween was much better.
There, I've said it. I am now officially one of those hideous old bastards who complains about how much better things used to be. So shoot me. You'll be doing me a favor.
Have you seen It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? That's how Halloween was when I was a kid. Beagles would climb up on top of their doghouses and fly off to shoot down German aircraft. It was great!
Well, wait a minute. Maybe that didn't happen. But the rest of the stuff did. Except for the part about sitting in a field all night waiting for The Great Pumpkin to show up. I didn't start doing that until after my first experience with angel dust. The sonovabitch didn't bring me any presents, either. All I remember is him saying, "Security? I've got a nutjob in the produce section. He's squatting in the gourd bin, naked, and I think he's trying to talk to a squash."
However, that's neither here nor there. What we're discussing is Halloween, circa 1965. The thing about Halloween, at that time, was that it was a night we kids got to dress up in costume and go out on our own. We waited for it to get really dark, so it would be scarier. We stayed out later than normal, so as to get to every possible source of candy within walking distance. And the only kids who had their parents with them were those not old enough to go to school yet.
You generally made up your own costume. It was a point of pride. If you had to buy a mask, it had to be one hell of a good one to pass muster. As a result, there were great multitudes of hobos, pirates, and clowns. Nobody had the props for anything more ambitious. You could be a ghost, of course, but you were risking your life. This was because your mom would kill you if you cut up a good sheet.
Occasionally, one of the boys would make the mistake of dressing in drag. He'd commandeer make-up, a wig, and high-heels from his mother or sister. While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, and would get great laughs from the adults, it would likely have resulted in unmerciful teasing from your buddies. Of course, drag probably isn't an option now. It might be seen as transvestite-bashing or something. Likewise, it's un-PC to be a hobo now, since you're basically making fun of homeless people. And pirates are off the list because one-eyed people with hook hands and peg legs probably have some sort of anti-defamation league. And no witches. It's disrespectful of somebody's religion. About the only costume safe from criticism is one where nobody can figure out what you're supposed to be.
My friends would have been mortified to have a parent making the rounds with them. Part of the deal about Halloween - not said, but implied in our pre-adolescent contracts - was that if you were able to walk to school by yourself, you were old enough to trick-or-treat by yourself. It was a rite of passage, at least in my neighborhood. How many kids go out on their own now? Any?
Yeah, I know. It's a different world. There are child rapists and kidnappers lurking behind every bush. Hell, the people you would have unhesitatingly trusted to keep your kids safe in those days (priests, teachers) are the ones making headlines for lewd and lascivious behavior. Sheesh.
We went out as late as possible, and stayed out as late as possible. Now, even with parents accompanying most of the kids, it begins earlier and ends earlier. Part of the thrill, for us, was being out on the streets during hours when we normally wouldn't have been. That was scary in and of itself, which is what made it cool.
We went as far as six or seven blocks away - as far as our inner sense of security would let us go - whereas during a regular day of the year we never strayed more than three blocks from home. This is because kids have a sense of territory, just like dogs or cats, and you didn't venture too far beyond your own neighborhood because you knew that you might be invading someone else's turf. If you did, and you got beat up, you knew you had no real right to complain. But, on Halloween, if the disguises were good enough, you went further. Who knew who was under that mask? That was part of the daring and fun of the night. Now, even with parents (maybe especially with parents) kids only go to places they know.
In my day (in the before-time!) we'd gather as much booty as we could. And some of it might be unwrapped, or homemade, or otherwise not up to parental snuff. We always heard the stories about razor blades in apples, so if we got an apple we cut it up before we ate it. Other than that, we didn't give a damn. If it was candy, it went in our mouths. Now, unless it's a recognized securely-wrapped brand-name candy bar, it probably goes in the trash when the bag is emptied out at home.
Need I go into the fact that we got full-size candy bars, while now barely bite-sized treats are the norm? No, I didn't think so.
Some parents won't even let their kids go trick-or-treating. So, maybe they send the kid to a party. Or maybe not. I can't really imagine today's helicopter parents letting kids do the things they used to let us do at parties. Bobbing for apples? Why, little Jason might get some water up his nose! That's a lawsuit, for sure. It will affect his psyche and take years of analysis to overcome. And the possibility of damaging his teeth on a hard apple, or maybe catching pneumonia from that wet hair? Good Lord! That's child abuse! The Feds will be on your ass in no time flat. And you're not seriously considering telling the kids ghost stories, are you? No, we can't have that. You might traumatize them.
Yeah, I know. "You're not a parent, so don't suppose that you know what's best for my kid!" You're absolutely right. That's why I'm not a parent. I'd be a crummy one. At least I've had sense enough to realize that. There are armies of folks out there who don't have a clue.
OK, enough. I'll stop. I told you what was coming, but you didn't listen, did you?
Happy Frickin' Halloween.
Soon, with more bitter stuff.