Halloween, Where We Went Wrong and How To Get Your Spooky Groove Back

My sister, age 5. Self created costume. Pure genius.

It hit me the other week as I gleefully strolled into Target (alone). The dollar section was bursting with everything orange, black and purple. Halloween is looming just around the corner! We haven’t even finished the Halloween candy from last year and I am already facing one of the biggest judgmental holidays of the year. The main offenders are, of course, the two major events of the day. So grab a couple of “fun size” Snickers and let’s talk about them, shall we?


There are a few rules about how this whole dress up thing is going to go down around here on the Westside of LA.

Rule 1. Don’t dress as a character at school.

For the love of Pete, just don’t. Per the teachers, this is a holiday to use your imagination, so get your thinking caps on! I don’t know about you, but when I was little there weren’t many “characters” to choose from so we were forced into using a little elbow grease and imagination to drum up a costume. Mainly, we used “dress up clothes” as costumes (and by “dress up” I don’t mean the $1,000 collection of Disney princess gowns, I mean actual old clothes that once belonged to a family member). You wanted to be a Granny? Perfect! Go dig out that mothball-scented dress from the basement, have Mom sew on a random fur collar, slap on a shower cap, pink sponge curlers, put a couple of tutus on underneath to round out your “Granny bod”, and then top it all off with your Groucho Marx glasses (sans mustache) and you are all set! You had an obsession with “The Refrigerator” Perry and wanted to be him for Halloween? Answer: Grab a large box, paint it white, cut holes for arms and head, put that on and then add a football helmet. Voila! Don’t know what to do with the sweaty headband, knee socks, nut huggers and old tennis racquet? Put’em on and you are Bjorn Borg. The clever possibilities are endless! Nobody wants that violent little punk, Jake the Neverland Pirate bopping someone on the head with his little Styrofoam sword or a miniature Darth Vader scaring the bejesus out of the local 5 year olds anyway. Dress up as a fart for all I care, just don’t show up dressed like Barney. Mmmmm-kay?

Rule 2. No masks.

We get it. They are creepy and not knowing who someone is on the school yard (or out on the street) isn’t something that anyone ever really wants. That aside, those masks are suffocatingly hot. Your kid will be sweating and dehydrated by the time they have hit the third house on their trick-or-treating mission. What does this mean for you, as a caring parent who wants to avoid dehydration for your sweet little fart? Toting around a 22 ounce water bottle along with you for them to drink. This, of course, results in them having to pee which results in having to go back home for the bathroom or asking to use a neighbor’s bathroom, which results in costume removal and more sweating. You see where we are going here. Then last, but certainly not least, masks are usually made from plastic, rubbery stuff and will most likely be off-gassing up your kids nose all day or night. All bad.

Rule 3 (and this is my own rule). Please don’t change your mind.

I happen to really enjoy making a costume and once we have finally settled on something, we need to stay the course. If we were taking the pre-made costume route, I’d be more flexible on this one BUT if I am two weeks into cutting out foam feathers and devising a jetpack-type contraption so you can wear them on your back to be a “Sparkly Flying Unicorn”, I won’t be able to turn that shit into a Rubik’s Cube when you change your mind on me. Sorry Charlie.


Many kids on the Westside of LA are legitimately afraid of candy. It has been burned into their brains that just one Tootsie Roll will have you strung out on Nerds and Charleston Chew, begging outside of the local 7-Eleven for spare change to get that next fix, I mean, Twix.

Legend has it that at the end of the night, kids are allowed to look at the candy in their trick-or-treat bags and are then given two options:

1. Smell each piece and then throw it away.


2. Unwrap each piece, put it into a huge bowl, pour organic apple juice over it then mix it all together. (Mom can make this more exciting by calling it a super fun name like “Witch Stew”.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have some rules for the candy situation myself. Although I haven’t reached the point of rifling through the bag and tossing every piece that has sugar listed as the first ingredient, I will go through that bag so that I can hoard the Take Fives for myself. My kid isn’t allowed to scarf 30 pieces in one night but I will let her have a few pieces of her choice.  If she happens to slip into a sugar-induced coma afterwards and falls asleep without brushing her teeth that night – oh well – Halloween 1, Mom 0. We will get those teeth in the morning.

My biggest question is: at what point did Halloween get this way? So. Many. Rules. Back in the day, after a night filled with trick-or-treating through our entire neighborhood we would happily gather at a party filled with popcorn balls and caramel apples. There wasn’t a parent in the house that would bat an eye at bobbing for apples in a 40-gallon bucket filled to the brim with backwash spit water from every kid in the neighborhood at the beginning of flu season. I can’t imagine this happening nowadays. The fear of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is too strong.

Can’t we just chill out and stop making Halloween into a holiday meant to judge everyone? From eating too much sugar to not allowing a grain of sugar, from a pre-made costume to a vintage, handmade costume, can’t we all just relax and have some fun? Drink a little hot apple cider? Eat a few thousand M&M’s?

Now excuse me, I have to go gag my way through carving this pumpkin. Happy Halloween everyone!

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