It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning, the nights are getting longer, the skies turning gray with autumn rain and the wind starting to once again sharpen its teeth. Soon it will be Halloween, and with it, Beggar’s Night. I simply have to ask one question, though: when did we become such a nation of pussies when it comes to Halloween?
I remember Halloween growing up. Kids walking around in the dead of night, knocking on doors, laughing and running around in dime store costumes of cheap plastic. Most didn’t last the night and we didn’t care at all. We got huge amounts of candy, and our parents would look them over quickly and then let you dig in. Now you maybe go through one neighborhood, escorted by an adult, with cops patrolling, finished well before it gets dark and all the candy is x-ray’d.
No reason really. There hasn’t been a single credible incident of candy being poisoned or having razor blades in it, despite the urban myth. We have the “news” media to blame. In an attempt to grab ratings, they sensationalized false reports and the average suburban parents bought it hook, line and sinker. They were just too stupid to question it. Never mind the clinics that began offering free candy screenings – not because they believed the nonsense, but because it was a great marketing ploy for them.
How about kids being abducted on Halloween, thus necessitating the escort? Not so much. While there have been abductions and murders on Halloween, it’s not statistically greater than the number on any other day of the year. The idea of crazed sex perverts stealing kids off the street on Halloween is just stupid; most molestation occurs in the home, not from kids being abducted on the street.
Ok, last one, keeping the hours limited to daylight. This one has some validity. Pedestrian deaths on Halloween tend to be four times higher than on other days of the year. This, however, may not be because of kids being out at night, but because parents are fucking lazy. Driving kids from house to house became popular in the 1990s (you know, to avoid all the non-existent child molesters) . Add more cars to the road when people are rubbernecking to see costumes, and you have a spike in pedestrian deaths. One pussification led to another!
Let’s talk about costumes and decorations for a minute. Every year the pendulum seems to swing from scary to cutesy. This year seems to be a cutesy year. There are far less spooky skulls and stuff at the mainstream stores like Wal-Mart and Target. Instead they have cutesy crafty like decorations and most of the costumes are kid friendly. The sexy costumes, which have been taken a beating in the past few years, have all but vanished except in the specialty costume stores.
The stores themselves, on the other hand, have mostly stopped selling Halloween stuff already, and it’s only the 18th. Big Lots, a closeout store popular in the Midwest, billed itself as “Halloween Headquarters” – I got a flier YESTERDAY with this tag line. Yet at the store, all of the Halloween stuff, which was just put out about September 20th, is now gone, replaced with Christmas crap. Only a tiny endcap near the cash registers has any Halloween stuff left. Target and Wal-Mart are a bit better, but you can tell they are already moving the stuff out even though we’re two weeks out from Halloween.
For a country that’s so hung up on fear, and seems to want to wet its panties at the littlest thing, the fact that Halloween is basically nothing more than an annoyance these days is just confounding. Maybe the pendulum will swing back some day, and we can be less afraid of pervs and razorblade candy, and more afraid of ghosts and monsters again.