Trick-or-treat defeat: The life and times of a Halloween failure

For the month of October Listing Toward Forty is Listing Toward Halloween, featuring a variety of Halloween posts including many by guest authors. This post is by Gayle Pazerski.

I used to hate the fall. I’m not sure why. I think it might have been a combination of a few things: the onset of cold weather, the depressing gray landscape, the subtle but ominous shortening of daylight hours. I thought people who enjoyed the fall were crazy for embracing a season that begins with flu shots and ends with 5PM sunsets. And when I lived in New York, fall meant nothing but the beginning of freezing my ass off on the elevated subway platforms and months of wet pants cuffs caked in black slush. Not to mention the increased instances of random poop piles in subway stations and unlocked building foyers (no judgment there, though -- I imagine al fresco pooping really doesn’t hold much charm when the dew point dips below freezing).

In the past few years, though, I’ve grown to enjoy fall and winter--if for no other reason than the fact that the weather change kills the bugs I find chilling out around my house all summer long. I’ve also always been a sucker for the fall and winter holidays. Turkey and stuffing? Yes, please. Pumpkin pie? Make mine a double. More than twelve whole weeks of retailers shoving Christmas down my throat? Don’t mind if I do.

But Halloween? The holiday where I am forced to purchase candy for every child and costume-less hoodlum who rings my doorbell, the occasion with the parties that always prompt frantic trips to the thrift store to cobble together something I will wear for five drunken hours, the time of year when grown women find themselves having to choose between an endless number of bizarrely sexy costumes (nurse, cop, nun, MARTINI, YES I’VE SEEN A SEXY MARTINI COSTUME I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT)? It just leaves me feeling a little...eh.

It actually makes me kind of sad that I’m not more jazzed about Halloween. Part of me really wants to rent an amazing costume and adorn my house with cobwebs and styrofoam headstones and throw a fabulous party where I serve blood red mixed drinks and hot dogs wrapped up like little croissant roll mummies. But I always end up doing the same thing every year: opening the Halloween decoration box on October 30th, remembering how much Halloween shit I’ve accumulated over the years, panicking, and immediately putting the box back in storage.

Sometimes I grab the candle shaped like a candy corn and put it in the middle of the dining room table. I do like that candle.

Oh, sure -- I dress up for parties and such when I get the chance, but even my best costumes can’t seem to guarantee a fun Halloween. The year I went as Phillip, the hyper/hypo kid that Mike Myers played on Saturday Night Live (yes, I’m old), I attended a party at a perfectly decorated spooky old house in the Kentucky backwoods.

I was riding pretty high off all the positive attention I was getting from a costume I pieced together from a few Goodwill purchases...and then I discovered my ride home passed out face down dangerously close to the backyard bonfire. Cut to me stuffing her in the backseat of the car, willing myself sober, and driving the hour back home through thick fog and pitch darkness -- all the while sporting a harness, soft-sided helmet, and face smeared with chocolate. Thumbs up.

I was also the mastermind behind my second all-time favorite costume: a two-person effort that had my husband dolled up as a female high school art teacher, complete with plaid jumper and wooden jewelry, and me as a male high school gym teacher, with a thick mustache and beer gut rounding out my ensemble.

We did not have much sex that November.

Halloween costume flight attendant

Photo credit: What I Wore / Foter / CC BY

But those are the two costumes I’ve actually enjoyed wearing in over 30 years of Halloweening. For the bulk of my childhood trick-or-treating, I usually went as the same damn thing every October: a flight attendant.

Yes, my friends. Instead of dressing up as a fairy princess or a witch or a rock star, I dressed up as SOMEONE WITH A FULL-TIME JOB.

I can’t even remember why I did it, except that I had a wide collection of those little “wings” pins that the airlines used to give out to kids on flights as a sort of silent bribe to not be an annoying little shit. Combine the pins with a white button-down shirt, a blue skirt and matching flats usually reserved for church, and one of your mom’s scarves tied around your neck, and Voila! You’re lame.

So maybe a history of boring costumes is to blame for my indifference-bordering-on-distaste for Halloween. Maybe it’s the fact that I loathe haunted houses. Maybe it’s the insane trick-or-treating action we get in our neighborhood, where I see everything from cute little kids-turned-superheroes to surly teenagers with pillowcases and concealed weapons to (and this was a first for me last year) a real, live strung-out prostitute, complete with her pimp who stood in the middle of my street screaming profanities at the motorist who kindly asked him to get out of the road. Sir, I understand that it’s hard out here for a pimp, but perhaps these strawberry Nerds will help take the edge off.

And then there are the infants carried to my door so that I may give their parents candy. Because unless they are supplementing their baby’s breastmilk diet with liquefied Kit-Kats (big ups if they are), it’s pretty obvious the candy thing is all about the adults scoring sweets from a perfect stranger. The kid is basically a prop in all of this as the adult walks up to my door, says trick-or-treat, holds out the bag, and then thanks me for my contribution to the Gainfully Employed Adults Who Don’t Feel Like Paying For Their Own Damn Candy Association. It’s like these parents have no patience for waiting until their kids are old enough to accumulate their own candy, which can then be pilfered throughout the first week of November while the little darling is in bed. I think of it as a contribution towards preventing juvenile diabetes.

Much like New Year’s Eve, Halloween (for me) is just one of those holidays that seems better in theory than in practice. I know, I know -- I’m a killjoy. But I’m also the girl who dressed up like Bad Sandy from Grease! her sophomore year in college, pre-partied a little too hard, and ended on the floor of her dorm room by 8PM, lips caked with the remnants of Ernest & Julio Gallo’s finest, crying into the phone while her roommate vomited repeatedly into a trashcan. You guys can keep wearing your awesome costumes and holding your festive parties, but...I think I’d better take a knee when it comes to Halloween.

Gayle Pazerski lives in Pittsburgh, PA where she works as an actor, blogger, and playwright to support her passion for office jobs. You can read more of her nonsense at actclassy.com or on Twitter (@jiveturkey).

All Halloween posts from this series can be found here.

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