I don’t know?!!

Halloween. The glorious holiday that should be celebrated for at least two months, since we’re not allowed to do it more than once a year. I love the decorations. I love the horror movies. I love the longer shadows, the deeper sunsets, and the colors that usher the change of seasons. I love the candy and the, and the, and the… but most of all—more than anything—I love the costumes. Not necessarily mine or my kids, ours or those we know, but the trick-or-treaters’ costumes in general.

The Hippie was watching me with this silly little grin, as I sat on the porch practically glowing, chatting to kids as they came up the steps. They’re purists, you see. The holiday isn’t about the marketing to them, or their favorite film, or haunted houses and corn mazes. It’s all about the candy and costumes. Now, it should be noted at some point that Bob’s zombie get-up was a bit much for some of the younger kids, and (after he scared several) I told him to stick his tongue out and be silly with the little ones. But the giggle he got knowing he was terrifying them was priceless!

Now then, the purists…

There are stages to Trick-or-Treaters. There are the toddlers. They’re confused at best, terrified at worst. They don’t know what they’re doing, or why, but they know that you have candy. They will try to say “Trick or Treat” but it won’t come out that way for the most part. They are usually dressed up in whatever mom (Because why is it that most dad’s aren’t out trick-or-treating? Why is it mostly moms?) decided to make them. Our best was the Garden Gnome. Couldn’t speak yet, but damn those doe eyes and homemade costume almost got me to give him the entire bucket! A close second would be the monkey girl. She walks by with her grandma to go to the park and once grandma reminded us of that, we recognized her. Adorable! After some silly zombie-Bob moves, she was giggling and waving and babbling to Bob & I as she left the porch with a fistful of candy.

Then you have the preschoolers. This is a great age. They’re all about the candy. Free Sugar!! Their costumes are a 50/50 mix of what mom put on them and what they asked for. Many are still homemade at this point and they would actually be proud of their costumes if they weren’t so distracted by the fact that you’re holding a giant bowl of candy and sharing it. They can say “Trick or Treat” quite clearly, but mom is forever reminding them to say “Thank you.”

And then you have elementary school sect. I love this age. I love that they almost always pick out their own costumes. That they get to mix their love for candy with their love for dress-up. They enjoy the decorations and have a permanent mix of trepidation/excitement on their faces at the steps of each new house. They don’t say “Trick or Treat,” they scream it. This group, from about 6-10 years old, THEY are who the trick-or-treating portion of this holiday is designed for. Well, them and us psycho old ladies that wait for them and reward them with candy.

After that you have the two groups of older kids. The aging purist, whose mom is still going with but who may or may not have a costume on. And the punks that think if they show up with a pillow case and say the magic words they’ll be rewarded with candy. Not on my steps you won’t. Got a parent with you? Ok, we’ll play. Teenager out for candy but not following the rules of MY holiday, try next door…

But I digress, because we need to back up to the elementary group. The heart of Halloween. See, there are traditions that go with my version of Halloween. There are certain movies watched and a pattern to the day itself, and eventually, it’s time to sit on the steps and wait for the mini ghouls and goblins to come begging for my treats. They say “trick or treat!” and I respond with “ohhhh and what is your costume?”

And this year I was told, repeatedly, “I don’t know.”

I don’t know?!! Are you kidding me?

Yes, it’s true. The forget-the-classics-just-add-wings bastards in charge of marketing costumes have gone and turned the holiday into the Fallen Angel Wood Fairy Butterfly Princess Spider Queen Gothic Tramp… for six year olds! Bastards!

I actually heard, “A forest fairy?” and then “I don’t know, A Dark Princess Angel” and eventually it just became “I don’t know.”

They walked away, smiling and happy with their candy, and I turned and stared at Bob. My mouth agape, my mind going a million miles an hour, my soul cracked and my heart broken. I finally found my voice again and asked him, “When you were that age, did you know what you were? Did you request your costume? Did you help put it together? Or did you just go pick out something fun, with fucking wings, and call it good?!”

He smiled. He shook his head—I still don’t know if it was in agreement with my anger or amusement at me and my anger. “Oh no, I knew what I was, what I wanted to be.”

What the hell? I was flabbergasted. And then it happened AGAIN. Well, this was not going to just sit with me, so I started making suggestions or telling them what I thought would be a good title. They smiled and took the candy and went off into the night with a memory of what exactly they took from the bowl and no idea why the crazy lady thought they should be able to answer that question, or why she thought they should tell other people that they were a Ghoul.

Yes, the ghoul. Let’s use him as an example, since he didn’t have wings. He had this great demonic mask and hooded robe and was nasty looking and beautiful. But didn’t know what he was. I was going to say demon but didn’t know if his parents would flip, so I suggested he just tell people he was a ghoul. And he promptly asked me what that was. Now if this had been a six-year-old, I would have forgiven it, but this boy was easily eleven… and didn’t know what a ghoul was?!! Are you kidding?!

“Just trust me, say ghoul if anyone else asked you.” I smiled, hoping he’d play along, hoping he’d understand, and sent him on his way with a hollow sounding version of my normal “Happy Halloween” parting call.

“Now if he had said he was Agni, third son of Brahman, demon of chaos and fire, THAT would have been cool!” Bob suggested when I turned wide-eyed at him.

“But he didn’t… he didn’t know what he was… and then he didn’t even know what a ghoul was and THAT’s what he was!!!”

Oy… I was disheartened to say the least. The teen with the pillowcase and a father got candy—and was told to not smile and tell everyone he was an Emo Kid, but had no idea what Emo even was. The little girl that proudly declared she was a Green Wood Elf Fairy, in the purple costume with… wait for it… wings, was given two extra pieces for having an answer—even though it was both wrong and contrived.

I still loved trick-or-treating. I still loved seeing the various costumes. I just really, really want to beat the manufacturers of this year’s costume even more than I did when I became an egg.

I ask, no plead, beg even, of all the parents out there in Halloweenland… Next year, either let your kid tell you what they want to be without the influence of a rack of shiny costumes, or at least tell them what they hell they are!

Ugh… someone pass me the candy bowl.

[note: a very special blog will be forthcoming later today… stay tuned!]

0 Responses to I don’t know?!!

  • Jen says:

    In response to your first full sentence– how do you know? Who did you ask? Who is it that is not allowing an Owen girl to do something? I propose Halloween Part Two. In June. When it’s warm out. I know, sacrilegious. No leaves, no pumpkins. But seriously, I know you’re not going outside this winter. Lots of time to work on a costume. And a campaign to get the neighbors involved. And the beauty of June? You can’t get your costume at Walmart.

  • Themom says:

    So what did you hand out in that bowl?
    And which one of those kids will be writing stories in the years to come about the crazy old Halloween candy giving people they met over the years.

  • Kelli says:

    the bowl had candy bones, gummy body parts, pixie stix and taffy… and i’m betting it’s the kid that didn’t know if she was a vampiress or an evil queen.

    jen… who says i’m taking my decorations down before june?!! i live with someone that gets it now =)))

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