Monday, October 22, 2007

Nightmare On Aisle Four

I'm not a big fan of Halloween, but I've never been against kids taking part in the activities, and I certainly made the rounds when I was a kid, although it was a prerequisite in our household to collect for UNICEF if we were going to go enlist the neighbors help in rotting our teeth.

Although I've come to dislike the entire concept of sending kids door to door begging for candy, the reason in recent years I have opted to turn off our porch light, and draw the shades on Halloween, is that I don't like having our dogs go nuts barking each time the door bell rings, and sometimes I have this wild idea I might like to sleep instead of being barraged by trick or treaters.

Still, we never prevented our kids from taking part in Halloween, although as they grew older they often opted to take part in organized activities with their various church youth groups as part of "Fall festivals" or other euphemisms designed - I suppose - to clearly show they weren't taking part in events associated with the devil, or witchcraft, etc.

Our kids values were instilled 365 days a year, I don't think we ever gave any thought to the idea that one night of dressing up and acting goofy was going to turn them into the spawn of Satan. Still when our kids did "trick or treat" they didn't dress up as anything gory, and the extent of our home Halloween decorations - if we had any - was a pumpkin which usually no one ever got around to carving into a jack-o-lantern.

It was the same way when I was a kid...I remember dressing up as a "hobo" a lot, and I think the most sinister looking costume I ever had was when I dressed up as pirate.

Even with the skull on the pirate's cap and the little dangling pirate on the costume's vest...I wasn't going to frighten a lot of folks, although I find the image a little disturbing now only because I appear far more "chunky" than I ever recall being.

Our kids dressed up for years as M&M's in costumes that Amy made for them. There's a certain odd irony to that, dressing up like candy to go beg for candy.

Anyway, these days it's a different world. We have neighbors who put a lot of effort into decorating their houses for Halloween, far more than they do for Christmas.

To each his contribution is I haven't gotten around to mowing the yard, so our house looks a bit haunted.

I was in a store the other day killing time and I wandered into the "Halloween aisle."

I was literally stunned. Almost the entire aisle was overflowing with gore and blood and very graphic creepy stuff. The Halloween candy was in another part of the store.

I'm not talking spiders or even skeletons...I mean the aisle was stuffed to the rafters with masks of decapitated heads with spears or swords sticking into, out of, or through them. Simulated blood was on everything...there were eyeballs, and coffins, and one of my favorites, a "bloody hand candle" that once lit, dripped what appeared to be blood rather than wax, and carried the guarantee that once the fingers burned off there would be realistic "stumps of bone" behind.


It's not like I was offended, I was more intrigued. I wondered if there was a Superman costume, or a fairy princess, or well anything that wasn't dead which a parent could choose for their kid to dress up in and anything that didn't scream, howl or bleed with which someone could decorate their home. The short answer: not really.

Finally, and I mean by this point I was digging around, moving stuff out of the way as the latest Halloween gizmos were wailing and screaming apparently set off by my movements, trying to find anything that didn't seem to have been inspired by the indigestion of Wes Craven.

Finally, I managed to spy something that appeared to be fairly tame. A mask that didn't have blood dripping from it, or eyeballs dangling from the sockets. There was no sword, hatchet, or spear protruding from its skull.

Still, I couldn't help but think, "This is the only choice?"

A mask promoting Burger King?

I'll be turning out the lights this Halloween and drawing the shades...not so much because I don't want to hear the dogs bark or that I need sleep.

I'm afraid every time I answer the door I'll be greeted by another nightmare...from Walgreen's.