This year's Halloween blog post is dedicated to my co-worker Sue, who died quite a few years ago now, and made an unnamed appearance in this blog post, written long before I had a blog. It is dedicated to her because one Halloween I went and bought some very fancy individual fangs that you molded to your teeth. But it turned out they didn't really stay in properly, and you needed denture cream. Sue gave me her denture cream, which worked perfectly. I am still grateful.
I think of myself as loving Halloween, but it strikes me now that things are not so simple. I love all the pseudo scary decorations, but when they cross too much into the truly scary I lose my appetite for it all. Disneyland's Haunted House perches just so on that edge for me. I was never keen on the part when things jump out, but that they did it all just far enough away, and in a rhythm, pacified me somewhat. The rest of the ride was about perfect. The rise of serious Halloween decorating in my neighborhood has been an intense pleasure to me that expresses that quality of winking mystery and glowy, spooky, comedy.
As a child I loved the candy of Halloween fiercely and still remember pouring over it and cataloging it with a deranged miser's intensity. Now I am indifferent to it, having eaten a vast array of better things that I can usually acquire at will. As an open eyed adult I am easily able to see through the hollow, empty tricks of commercial candy, which only tastes good if you pay no attention to it. I'll idly eat it on occasion in the season, not paying attention to it, but what fun is that?
I have always liked dressing up, but when I reflect on it, I get strong feelings of sadness and loneliness rather than joyous feelings of celebrated parties. I'm pretty sure it's too serious an endeavor for me. It's supposed to be theater but I've never found the right approach. I've always wanted to draw into myself all the way, or fully inhabit the role. It just felt like too much, being and not being something else. And I have never in my life been good at parties.
I have some old film footage of me dressed as a hobo for the Halloween after I turned four. I have no real memories of it, but I seem terribly sad and sweet to myself. Who knows what autonomy I had in the choice of that costume, but there is something about it. Something talking from deep inside that I was dressed as a rootless, homeless wanderer at age four. Breaks my heart.
In art school one year, for a big school party in downtown San Francisco, full of all those hip, cutting edge young artists, I went naked. My costume was artist's model, or Adam before the fall. It was a strange thing to do, a bit of performance art really. Maybe a little, we can put on costumes by removing things too. I have always told myself the story of how alienating and lonely that party was because of my nudity. But writing this now I am strangely understanding something I've never understood in all the long years since then. I always felt that way at big parties like that, lonely, isolated, uncomfortable, abandoned, unable to interact. There was nothing about that party that was different than how I normally felt. Being naked in public was not uncomfortable to me. I was actually fine with it. It was an expression of something I already felt, a way to dress as a hobo. Surreal, dangerous, but oddly present.
Nothing fancy for tonight. My spirit is calmer and deeper. We'll hurl our door open and hand out candy to neighborhood kids. How dazzled they look as all the heat and brightness and strange interior hurtles out to greet them. How dazzled I am by the clamor of festooned arrays of small children suddenly washed up by the night. They seem to have to squeeze out the ritual. "Trick or treat." they usually manage to say. Who knows? Life. But I have some candy for them.