Commentary
5:00 am
Fri October 30, 2009

Richard Crowson: This Halloween Thing Is Weird

What a weird holiday Halloween is.

It’s like some sort of phantom holiday that we all know exists and yet seems to dwell in some other holiday dimension. It’s printed on calendars, yet no one gets off work for it. The mail’s delivered.  Banks are open. Schools don’t shut down on Halloween, though some teachers trying to deal with kids on a frantic sugary candy high probably wish it was otherwise.

No, Halloween gets no official sanction at all. Yet here it comes again, complete with those strange haunted house attractions that you have to pay money to get frightened by.  Someone I know who was recruited to work at one recently was a ghoul who sprang up and scared the bejabbers out of the customers. She remorsefully reported to me that some of the small children were in tears even before being dragged through the thing by their parents.

I’m sorry but that’s just weird.

My dad who grew up during the early part of the 1900s, used to tell me about Halloween pranks that the kids in rural North Mississippi would play on adults. They’d hoist wagons up on the top of farmer’s barns and relocate out-houses to inappropriate places. When I was a kid in the 1960s we’d play little tricks on the people who wouldn’t come to their doors when we trick-or-treated. Draw monsters on their screens with soap and wedge toothpicks into doorbells.

Now the tricks are played on kids by us adults. We try to spook them with our spidery front porches and stuffed zombies. We even make their parents pay to let us horrify them.

So the creature we call Halloween has morphed into something that’s as much for adults as for children. I guess shape-shifting is just another trait of this weirdly fun October phantom holiday. Stay safe out there.