Stop It, You're Scaring Me
by Nicole Freire
Here's a photograph of one of the very few reasons I tolerate Halloween. Candy! And too much to fit into my famous green can. I love candy and I love giving it out to trick-or-treaters. And I don't give out just one or two pieces, either. No, I give handfuls. We'll have a pumpkin or two on our stoop, some votive candles lighting the driveway, and a flag with a happy jack-o-lantern on it.
And that's it. Nothing too scary or creepy because I hate Halloween. That sounds almost anti-American, doesn't it? I think that spending $30 on candy (pretty impressive sight, isn't it?) at Walgreens is pretty patriotic though.
I never was a big fan of Halloween, even as a child. One year someone smashed our pumpkin on our porch in the middle of the night, and I couldn't imagine what sort of evil person would smash a perfectly innocent squash with a smiley face. We had a family down the block that did not celebrate Halloween and instead of just turning the lights off, they would leave the lights on, and when you came to the door they would throw it open and yell, "We don't celebrate Halloween because of the devil!" Then they would toss a religious pamphlet at you. There was the cranky old man who only gave out tiny balls of chocolate wrapped in orange foil and would yell at you if you took more than one.
I didn't like dressing up in a costume. And there weren't many costume variations when I was a kid. You were a gypsy, a tramp, (not THAT kind, the hobo kind) or a ghost. I was usually a gypsy, which meant wearing one of my mother's gauzy nightgowns, some costume jewelry and rouge on my cheeks. I always felt uncomfortable. I didn't like being out at night. I didn't like going up to the houses of strangers. Masks scared me. I was scared of spider webs and skeletons. I was a little obsessed with vampires (I completely believed in them and would make little crosses out of paper clips and hang them in my window). And when I got home after a round of trick-or-treating, the fear did not end. No, you had to sort through your bag, discarding apples (could have a razor blade in it), walnuts (I'm allergic), homemade cookies (could have poison!), homemade popcorn balls (razor blades again), they all went into the trash. The Almond Joy and Mounds bars went to my mother and I settled for trying to ruin my teeth with Sugar Daddy candies.
I suppose it goes without saying that I was a pretty anxious kid.
When I was a teenager and the rest of my friends ran around dressed like French maids and vampires, I would stay home and quietly hand out candy, praising the shy kids who could barely make it up the walkway. I never said "How scary you look!" I only said things like, "Don't you look nice? Would you like another candy bar?"
Anyway, now Halloween is second only to Christmas in terms of popular holidays. Ugh. I went into Rite Aid the other day to give the pharmacy half of my paycheck and screamed when I inadvertently set off some kind of motion-sensitive talking skull. With blood on it. I tried taking my youngest daughter into Michael's to buy yarn for an unnecessary scarf knitting project and had to call the whole thing off when she refused to go inside because it was too scary.
So let's not talk about Halloween anymore. It's scaring me too much.
Oh, but here's a scary picture. Don't you think that this picture is creepier than tombstones and coffins? I can hear it screaming "I'll give you diabetes!" Seriously, it looks like someone in the graphics department went crazy with a color palette and Photoshop. I will admit to being in Carl's Jr, because I wanted onion rings but didn't want to go to the Habit. But that cup is filled with water, so there.
And before I leave you to your many Halloween shenanigans, here's one last scary picture. Oooooh! Creepy! Now you know where the City of Santa Barbara hides their misspelled street signs.
If you go out on Friday night please be nice and don't scream "Boo!" at small children. Just give out some candy and tell them how brave they are. Restrain yourself from pointing out the house with the fake tombstones on the lawn and instead focus on the happy pumpkins. Tell yourself that the giant spider perched on your neighbor's mailbox is fake and was not placed there to specifically to freak you out. Save some of those little bags of Skittles for me and maybe some candy corn. But only if the candy corn is in a secure factory-sealed bag.
# # # #
Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.