Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Meaning of Halloween

Halloween is the day to wear macabre outfits, decorate the house with trappings of decay, and mock our mortal fears. Bully for that, although the day's triumph amounts to winning one inning of the World Series, or less.

The futility is good reason to forget dental health, and calories, and Snicker up while we still can. We will lose weight in the grave, and our tooth stubs outlast us, so in the long run what are we so worried about?

As a child, I had an exaggerated cosmic idea of trick-or-treating: that the reason for Halloween was to find out the kind of people who would give out bad candy, or even worse, wholesome snacks, and they would die first, before generous people who gave out delicious, unnutritious name-brand candy. That's why you were supposed to paper their houses, not just to punish but warn them.

A new family moved into my neighborhood in Brooklyn one year and had the audacity to give out little cans of juice. We thought it was a comment on our juvenile desires, and considered rocketing the cans through their windows, but felt better we didn't when we found out they owned a diner, and had a lot of these little cans from their business, and had run out of candy by the late shift we were working that night. That was a practical reason that we didn't mind, although we would have preferred some coinage. We certainly didn't want any juice, which we threw down the sewer for the weight.

It was a tough neighborhood and your main goal on Halloween was to not get your ass kicked and candy stolen by bigger kids. That called for numerous trips home to drop off one's earnings, to minimize the potential losses that might literally be right around the corner. Between that and your other goal, to get enough candy to last until Easter, when you would get more, it was a long day.

Kids today are generally chaperoned by adults, which cuts down on the ass-kickings but also the intrigue, I imagine. Life is full of trade-offs, which is a drag, but death doesn't have any, so take your pick.

Enjoy your Halloween -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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