Hey, you — you’re the worst

I don’t really like Halloween.

There, I said it. I want to. I used to. But now, as an adult, it’s just disappointing. Like, it makes me disappointed in society.

Every year, I can’t help but feel a vague sense of dread, just waiting to see what kind of destruction takes place. And today, the day after Halloween, is when all the lovely details come out.

This is how I feel about Halloween

About twenty cars were vandalized in my neighborhood last night – I’m talking graffiti, slashed tires, broken windows, theft. Just…why? I live in a city, in a neighborhood with people from all walks of life. It’s not crime-free, but it’s far from a scary, violent place. Except on Halloween, I guess.

I did walk away from my car with some trepidation last night, worried that perhaps I’d find it egged or a pumpkin smashed across the hood. I gave people too much credit. Thankfully my car was spared, but many of my neighbors had their day/week/month ruined this morning for no reason at all.

A few miles away, my dad, a man in his sixties, reluctantly answered the door shortly before midnight after relentless knocking and ringing of the doorbell – simply to stop the racket that I’m sure was stressing out both him and our elderly family dog (who has major anxiety). At which point a bunch of jackass teenagers silly-stringed him – a retired man, relaxing alone in his home. Really?

Every year it’s the same thing – teenagers, even adults, smash to pieces jack-o-lanterns lovingly carved by small children. Homes and cars are vandalized. Actual riots break out.

I get that Halloween involves mischief – kids being kids, pulling pranks, a little TP and shaving cream. But it’s not that anymore. Now it’s genuine cruelty and destruction and just makes me wonder what is so wrong in people’s lives. A holiday that should be so fun – for adults too but especially for kids – has just become sinister.

Honestly, what’s next? Breaking into people’s homes and stealing their Thanksgiving turkey? Throwing coal through people’s windows on Christmas Day? Crashing a child’s birthday party and slapping him or her in the face?

To the people who pull this crap: You are high on the list of the worst people in the world. Below terrorists and serial killers – but far above litterers. And you know how I feel about litterers.

I blame my sister (costume edition)

When I was in elementary school, my family would get really into decorating the outside of our house for Halloween. My older sister, who was a teenager at the time, was especially into making it legitimately creepy.

One year, when I was in fourth or fifth grade, I had just gotten home from trick-or-treating, and my sister and her boyfriend were passing out candy. I was dressed as a gypsy girl. As we stood on the porch waiting for the next round of kids, my sister had a vision. “Kelly!” she said. “Go sit in that chair and pretend to be dead!”

Obediently, I draped myself across the chair, eyes closed, mouth slightly agape. I must have been like that for a while (and possibly fallen asleep), because by the time I heard the rustle of candy dropping into plastic bags, I was over it. I abruptly stood up – at which point the little costumed boy on our porch let out a blood-curdling scream. Apparently he’d been a little too convinced by our ruse, and thought I’d either woken from the dead or was a dummy come to life.

His mom was pissed. It was very awkward.

WTF, sis?

Fast forward ten years…

This time it was not actually Halloween. However, I was home on break from college, and my sister excitedly called to tell me that she and her neighbors were throwing a Napoleon Dynamite-themed costume party. I was pumped and started crafting the perfect outfit to be Deb: calf-length leggings, a short, pastel tie-dye dress, fanny pack, slouchy socks with sneakers, and of course – the piece de resistance – a major side ponytail.

I showed up to the party feeling pretty good. I walked in, and it was a scene straight out of a movie – music blaring, everyone’s heads turning in slow motion to stare at me, and my heart thumping with the realization: no one else is in costume.

Soon my sister emerged from the crowd, covering her mouth with her hand to hold back laughter. “Oh my god,” she said. “Oh my god, I forgot to tell you we changed it.”

Shortly thereafter I grabbed hold of a bottle of wine, and thus began an epic failure of a night, the details of which do NOT need to end up on the Internet – but all of which I do blame on my sister.

Happy Halloween, sis!

Don’t ruin Halloween

Recently, for a freelance assignment, I was researching ways to have a more “green” Halloween.

To be honest, I had never given much – okay, any – thought to the environmental impact of Halloween. Probably because when you’re the one picking out plastic-y costumes from the party store and rolling around in candy wrappers, you’re a child. And then after that, you’re more concerned with a costume’s impact on your boobs than its impact on the environment.  And after that, you’re not really concerned with Halloween at all until you have your own kids.

So I had never really thought about it. But once I started reading about it, it made sense, and there were actually a lot of really simple ways to make Halloween a bit more eco-friendly. I found myself nodding in agreement with the reasonable suggestions.

The way it should be

But then. Oh then… Then my head exploded. Several of the sources I found advocated handing out organic, fair-trade dark chocolate to trick-or-treaters. Another suggested giving them soy candles. SOY CANDLES. I had to read that one like 12 times to make sure I was understanding it correctly.

Ok. If I, as an adult woman, show up at your house trick-or-treating, feel free to give me organic dark chocolate and a soy candle. I welcome it. However, if I were a child and received this, I’m pretty sure I would throw myself on the floor screaming. In fact, even now I’d probably be pissed if I didn’t get any Smarties or Reese’s Pieces. Also – if you do this, you should probably expect to have your house egged by an angry mob of children. Just a fair warning.

Can’t we be environmentally responsible without ruining childhood? That’s all I have to say.

(Actually, no it’s not. It’s ridiculous standards like these that make actual important causes seem so elitist/inaccessible to people. Isn’t it better to give everyone simple, affordable ways to make a difference rather than suggesting you need to spend $350 on chocolate at Whole Foods to be a good citizen?  End rant.)

I just want it to come back

I’ve mentioned before that I babysit a three-year-old girl. I’ve been with her for a long time now, and one thing I’ve realized about kids is that their sweet little emotions are kind of like a microcosm of all the bigger, badder emotions of adulthood.

Like when she’s really tired and becomes unable to function, draping herself over her trampoline and weeping dramatically – I get it. Because that’s pretty much how I feel on a regular basis; just as an adult, it’s minus the weeping (mostly) and the trampoline (almost always).

Last Halloween, she dressed up as a princess and I would guess it was one of the happiest days of her life. She was just pumped about every single moment of that day. The next day, though, she was totally out of sorts – crabby and whining and emotional. I really felt for her, because I knew exactly what was causing it.

I sat her down. “Sweetie, what is bothering you?” I said.

Her little chin quivered and she burst into tears. “I just want Halloween to come baaaaack!”

I hugged her, and my heart broke – not because I didn’t realize she’d be over it by the next day, and that Halloween would certainly come back again and again – but because I knew exactly what she was feeling. And I knew that, just as Halloween would come back, unfortunately that feeling would come back all throughout her life – and mine.

As a kid, it’s the after-the-birthday-party feeling. When you’ve just had more fun and, probably, sugar than you could ever imagine, and suddenly it’s over, and both your blood sugar and emotional state crash, and you throw yourself on the floor and cry.

But as an adult, it’s the “is that part of my life really over?” feeling. When you look back – on college, maybe, or a past relationship; past friendships, or a past experience – you look back on something and you think, “I just want it to come back.” But unlike Halloween, you know it won’t come back. It can’t.

Another time, she had gone to a block party with her family over the weekend. A few days later, I was driving with her in the car, and we passed the street where it had taken place. She sat up in her car seat and looked concerned. “Oh no!” she said. “Where’s the block party??”

In her baby mind, the block party was something that just existed. Something that was going on whether she was there or not – something she could always just go back to if she wanted. It floored me when she said that, because I think to myself some version of “oh no, where’s the block party?” kind of all the time.

You walk away from certain people or things in your life, but on some level you think you can always go back. And often, for a while, you can. And sometimes it might even suck to think the party is going on without you, but there’s comfort in knowing at least it’s still there. But inevitably, at some point, the party just ends. Everyone packs up and goes home, and you realize you could never go back now, even if you wanted to.

And sometimes you really want to. Sometimes, you just want it to come back.