Sunday, October 30, 2016

Soliciting strangers for candy

It's almost that time of year again.
The leaves are turning their magical colours, the air is crisp with a hint of frost glistening off the hood of my car as I head off to another day in the salt mines.
Yup, it can only mean one thing: Halloween is just about here.
I love Halloween. It should be a stat holiday. How can kids concentrate when they know there is a mountain of candy waiting for them at every door?
I know when I was a wee lad the school day was pretty much a write off. Kind of like most days actually, but this time I had a legitimate excuse for not paying attention.
All sorts of hideous creatures with their scary faces and foul stench were seen roaming the hallways at my school, and some of those people dressed up for Halloween as well.
There were always a few kids who were too cool to wear their costume to school, but later that evening, when all that free sugar was being handed out, they were jostling for position with the best of them.
You are never too cool to get free candy.
The spooky commercials and TV shows would start a few weeks before the big day adding to the excitement.
Is it just me, or was the world a lot less weird back then? Some of the stuff coming out in the form of horror movies these days is downright disturbing.
I never saw it in the theatre – I was way too young – but I can remember hearing about The Exorcist and how scared people were. I can remember news stories on how people were terrified about being possessed.
Now, it would likely be viewed more as a comedy than a horror, but back then, it was some scary stuff.
I know I am rambling on like an old fuddy-duddy, but movies seem to have crossed the line from being scary to being gross and filled with mindless violence.
But then again, I am sure older people said the same thing about the horror movies I used to watch as a teen.
Either way, horror movies and Halloween go together like America and fat people.
TV is also besieged by ghastly ghouls of every description and that is just on the news.
Every show has to get in their Halloween special featuring everything from cute and cuddly monsters to some scary beasts that devour humans like Elvis on a deep-fried doughnut.
Before TV, people used to sit around in the dark and tell scary stories to frighten each other.
“There were two horrific beasts preying upon the good citizens of the land. Each had a foul tongue and used every trick they could to fool and captivate innocent people...”
Wait a second, my bad, I was referring to the U.S. presidential debates, sorry about that.
Anyway, TV and movies have replaced storytelling with visual effects that could not even be imagined a few decades ago.
Costumes are also way more intricate than when I was a kid. My friends and I had to suffer those thin plastic masks with elastic band straps that depicted vampires or werewolves or other ‘scary’ creatures.
The problem was, the only scary thing about those masks was when your friend ran up and pulled on it before releasing his grip and laughing as the mask smashed into your face.
It is amazing how often that would happen in a single night.
But no matter how things change, the more they stay the same.
Halloween is still about dressing up, having fun and getting a bag full of free treats.
So like clockwork, every Oct. 31, parents dress their children up, send them into the dark of night and encourage them to take candy from strangers.
Copyright2016, Darren Handschuh

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