My first Halloween memory is from when I was about, oh, four or so. I was dressed as a scarecrow. My dad was walking me up and down the stairs in our Upper East Side building, watching as I rang doorbells and held out my bag — and probably helping out a little with my “Trick or treat”s as well, since I was painfully shy. A group of three or four girls, about 13 or so, passed me and — in one of the defining moments of my life, I think — burst into giggles. I, of course, burst into tears. “We’re not laughing at you!” they frantically tried to explain. “You just look so cute!” But it made no difference as I clung to my dad, sobbing hysterically. The die had been cast.
Fast forward to a few years later. I’d started wearing glasses at age 7. For Halloween 1978 (when I was nine) I had a nifty John Travolta costume, complete with mask. Only problem was that without my glasses, everything was a blur. What to do? Wear the glasses under the mask? Wear them OVER the mask? I finally decided to take my chances without them. I remember, literally, letting a piece of candy intended for my bag drop to the floor because I couldn’t see a damn thing. Repeat this scenario until age 13 (with different masks, natch), when I was finally old enough to stop trick-or-treating without my friends thinking I was some sort of candy-hating commie.
I think the last time I actively tried to celebrate Halloween was my freshman year of college, when I dressed as a lounge lizard, complete with gold chain and gold lamé shirt open to the navel, and went to the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. It was about 40 degrees that night — my nipples still hurt just thinking about it. And things got a little out of hand, if I remember, complete with a mini-riot and a car overturned and set on fire.
Is it any wonder, I ask you, that I hate Halloween? And aside from my personal trauma, I simply don’t get the appeal of putting on an uncomfortable costume and marching from door to door begging one’s neighbors for candy. First of all, if you’re not destitute, why are you asking the guy down the block to give you a damn Mr. Goodbar? (In my memory, my Halloween bags were filled with countless bite-size Mr. Goodbars and Special Darks, both of which I hated.) OK, so it’s not really begging. It’s worse, in a way. “Trick or treat.” Give me some candy or I will do something nasty to you. And you may not even recognize me because I’m wearing this costume, so good luck calling the juvie cops on me, sucker.
As an adult, the last thing I want to do is hand out individually wrapped candies to Tinkerbell or Darth Vader wannabes who scream “Trick or treat” at me. Screw you, you damn kids! You should get your parents to rot your teeth and give you a sugar high! Of course, leaving a bowl full of candies outside your door with the implicit request to not bother the folks inside is kind of lame. And not participating at all is a little Scrooge-ish. But yeah, the Scrooge route, as you can imagine, is the one I’ve practiced all these years.
Now that I’m a parent, of course, I’m forced to relive the horrors of my youth and indoctrinate my beautiful daughter into the many sucktastic activities in which I was forced to participate when I was her age. Last year, Weevy was too young to understand the whole Halloween thing, though she did love the pumpkins she saw everywhere. My wife, God bless her, decided to dress her up anyway for a Gymboree Halloween party — as a dog. And I, in an attempt to put my Halloween-hating past behind me, dressed as a dog catcher. Cute, right? Weevy, to her eternal credit, hated the dog costume, though the pictures were pretty funny.
This year, it’s been announced that not only is Weevy going to wear a costume, but she is now old enough to trick-or-treat. Oy fucking vey.
But my attitude is, hey, if Weevy loves something, I love it too. Even if I don’t. I mean, I hate playgrounds. But Weevy loves them. So I take her every day, and try not to be too much of an asshole (to her, at least) while we’re there. Hell, with the exception of my daughter, I don’t even like most kids. But if Weevy wants to have a playdate with one of her hyperactive, semi-coherent, tantrum-throwing peers, then by golly, we’re going to have one, and we’ll have a great time. (By “we,” you understand, I mean Weevy.) And if she decides she loves Halloween… well, she hasn’t really decided she loves it yet. In fact, I’m still not sure she fully understands the whole I-put-on-costume-so-strangers-give-me-candy part of the deal. But she won’t hear a negative word about it from me. Unless her mother’s not around.