The More The Scarier: Why Halloween friggin’ rocks
By Jason Webber
Keep your Independence Day, your Thanksgiving, and especially your Christmas (humbug!). Of the 365 days that make up the Gregorian calendar, there’s only one holiday that really matters — Halloween.
As I type this, I have a jack-o-lantern-worthy smile and some killer pumpkin stencils to boot. Why am I so happy? Because the best holiday in the world is finally less than a week away. Even though I have been going all month long like Jack Skellington on Red Bull, I still have so much to do, so many places to go and so many pleasures left in which to partake. I’ve got my costume all figured out; a lady friend and I are dressing up as Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon, complete with a bloody knife and fake syringes. This year I was late in beginning my costume ponderings — I started in June. Next year, I must remind myself to be more punctual.
I know what you’re thinking — “This guy’s nuts.” And yes, furrowed-brow reader, I am. I am positively nuts about Halloween. Call it what you wish — All Souls Day, Satan’s Holiday, All Hallows Eve, even get Agatha Christie on me and spell it Hallowe’en — just so long as you call it what it is: the one day of the year where insanity is not only tolerated — it’s encouraged. A Halloween costume party magically breaks down social barriers and classes. I’ve witnessed stuck up Tracy Flick-types (Dayton sure has a lot of them, sheesh) move across a room to pay a costume-compliment to someone whom they normally wouldn’t even acknowledge on your average Friday night at Blind Bob’s. If you’re a single person, there’s no better place to meet someone new than a costume party, since everyone’s outfit is a potential conversation starter. See someone who once rejected you for a date?
If your costume conceals your identity enough, go up to your quarry and start chatting him or her up again. If you’re charming enough, you just might change her mind about her previous perceptions of you. Watch the look on her face when you pull off your mask to reveal yourself. It’s crazy, but this tactic does work. I’ve done it. Such is the potency of the Halloween spell.
Sure, there are one or two things I loathe about Halloween. I may be a dirty, amoral perv but even I take issue with the amount of so-called “sexy” costumes that are being marketed to tweens. I hate that most of the classic Halloween specials are seldom shown on network TV anymore (with the glorious exception of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown). And don’t get me started on the evils of the “Fun Size” candy bar. Greg Behrendt said it best: “What’s so fun about a third of a candy bar? How ‘bout next week we ‘Fun Size’ your paycheck?” Yeah, exactly. Preach it, Behrendt.
I’ve only had a handful of truly memorable Christmases, but I can literally remember almost every Halloween I’ve ever celebrated. In ‘87, I was first allowed to go out with my friends without adult supervision, and while we didn’t get up to any mischief or misdeeds, we did get into a mini-rumble with a rival gang of costumed classmates. Fact: Plastic axes and scythes hurt when used as weapons. I’ll never forget winning first place in a costume contest back in ‘98 when I was dressed as Austin Powers — 200 shagadelic dollars, baby!
Three years ago, I dressed as Adam Ant and was dismayed by how few people recognized me (one dimwit asked me, “Are you supposed to be Michael Jackson?”). Then there was the Halloween That Wasn’t. In ‘89, my parents heard a rumor from a televangelist in a bad brown suit that on Halloween night, the Satanic underground was going to sacrifice hundreds of children as a blood offering to The Guy With the Horns. My folks actually believed this completely balderdash urban legend and were so terrified of me being kidnapped by a creepy pied piper in an Ozzy t-shirt that they forbade me from going out trick-or-treating. Considering I had a bitchin’ Joker costume that year, I was genuinely pissed. Wasting a costume is just as sinful as throwing away food or wearing Abercrombie & Fitch after age 30.
But these days, my Halloweens are more fun than ever. Two years ago, I spent my first Halloween season in Dayton and came away thoroughly impressed. I have to say, Masquerage may be the best organized costume party I’ve ever attended. Great food, glorious drag queens, non-watered down drinks — divine! And take it from a seasoned haunted house veteran who has been to spooky attractions in five states — Dayton does Halloween horror right. The Haunted Cave in Lewisburg provides genuine chills, particularly since you have real bats circling overhead, and that new Butcher House on Wayne Avenue is a gory good time. In between parties, I’ve been staying in the ghoulish spirit by celebrating the fact that you can now hear “Thriller,” “Ghostbusters” and “Monster Mash” played regularly on even the lamest of radio stations. Every Tuesday evening, I get together with my pals to watch horror films and I imagine I’ll probably do my dead-on Bela Lugosi impression at least once on karaoke night before the season of the witch is up. I also need to stock up on boxes of Boo Berry and Count Chocula, considering you can only find them in the cereal aisle this time of year. I’m loving the festival of vampire movies playing at the Neon every Monday night at 7:30 (be there on Halloween for a screening of The Lost Boys). And I guess maybe I should plan to drop in on a Halloween party that I know a former friend will be attending and see if we can shake hands and call a truce. As Tim Curry sang in The Worst Witch: “Anything can happen on Halloween.” And it usually does. And that’s why I love it so much. Happy haunting!
Reach DCP freelance writer Jason Webber at JasonWebber@DaytonCityPaper.com.