Once upon a time, I would get really excited for Halloween. Then, I would get a little bit excited for Halloween. Now, I mostly just dread trying to come up with the obligatory costume. It's a shame, really, that what promises to be a very awesome holiday just isn't, at least not for me.
As a kid, my favorite costume ever was a black ninja outfit. I tried it on probably a dozen times the week before Halloween. I even wanted to wear it again the following year. The only problem was that I was growing very, very fast. Too fast for my ninja costume's sleeves and pants. I didn't love it enough to be the high-water ninja that next year. My brother was able to squeeze one more trick-or-treat out of his ninja costume, and I was extremely jealous.
One problem with that Halloween and several others was that I lived where nature always liked to take a dump on my costume plans. Now the Ohio River Valley is great weather if you like sudden changes in climate and digging your car out of the mud. It's not so great, however, for ninja costumes at the end of October. My mom carted my brother and me around all night with our sweet ninja costumes hidden by big, puffy winter coats. We were two little flashers, whipping open our coats to show that underneath we were, in fact, deadly assassins simply masquerading as two cold, wet little kids. I don't know exactly what material they used to make those costumes. It wasn't quite cloth. The cheaper ones were like wearing toilet paper stitched together. Whatever they were made of, they were not made for braving the elements.
Halloween is good at that, in my experience: being utterly disappointing. I was naïve and blissful enough to not care when I was 10 and leading the charge with the “ninjas are cool” movement. Now, it's something I'm prepared for. The best way not to be disappointed in this life is not to expect too much in the first place. I know that sounds like an awfully cynical way to live, but that's just because it is.
The bright side is that at least I'm not a kid now trying to enjoy Halloween. In the 80s, it was merely potential razor blades or poison that put a damper on the socially accepted mass begging of October 31st. Now, it seems like even darkness is too dangerous for kids. When I was a kid, anyone who went trick-or-treating before the sun went down would have been labeled the biggest pussy to ever walk through our school doors. They would immediately pass over the kid who started crying because he went too high on the swing set. Unfortunately for that kid, Eric, our current extreme level of over-protectiveness had yet to be seen before his time at Sinking Fork Elementary had come to an end. Sure, we had a couple of kids who didn't believe in celebrating Halloween, but they had even more problems than Eric, which might be difficult to believe for anyone who actually witnessed him howling while clutching that rusty chain for dear life.
The last time I went all-out for Halloween in the costume department was when I was living back in Kentucky again. A friend had invited me to his place for a party. I got this crazy, evil priest-type robe and a small, scary make-up kit. My freshly shaved head I covered in white make-up while I accented my eyes and lips in black. It was extremely satisfying admiring my transformation into a scary looking creature of the night. I may have overdone it though. I showed up at the house and rang the door-bell. A girl in a cat suit (one of four cat girls that night) opened the door, took one look at me, and slammed it in my face. After a moment of standing there, my friend opened the door and let me in. “I know you, and you're freaking me out.” That was the last time I really tried. There's just so little pay-off for the effort. My best-received costume was probably the one in which I just stuffed a pillow in my shirt and went as my fat friend.
So, for all you spooks and spookettes out there: Dress up like a princess or a prostitute. Beg for candy or swill tequila. Whatever your age, go all out. Just don't expect me to be impressed with your cat ears.