Halloween: Who are you gonna be?

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 Todd Kreidler.

Kurt Cobain asked me yesterday, “Do you think man’s law should apply to aliens?” I had to dodge the question, told him to ask Buzz Lightyear. Usually I love serious debate but I was distracted, Michael Myers in that mask kept glaring at me.

Scenarios like this start playing out in my head every year around this time, a response to the question of the season, “Who are you gonna be?” In the mirror I’m seeing John Boehner, or am I more Ted Cruz? Walking down the street wondering, “What if I go as the Debt Ceiling?”

But past patterns are the future. I won’t actually be anything for Halloween this year. Haven’t since I was twelve, the year of the “Real Hollywood” scar kit disaster. Though costume failure is not why I stopped dressing up.

Was it because of that dark Thursday night? Cheers was on. The no moon in the boonies night when a rattle whip of dry corn pelted our picture window. Next morning, the walk to the bus stop revealed in soap scroll, “GO AwaY Fuck FAG.”

I was thirteen years old, ten years before Columbine. A time when my army coat with Dante quote was not a “warning sign.” Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here. I had a .22 pistol bought from the son of gun nut. I stroked the pistol in my pocket while the Sex Pistols in my headphones battled the boom box Motley Crue in the back of the bus. Go away fuck fag.

Now that part about the .22 pistol’s not exactly true. I had the opportunity to buy a .22 pistol from the son of a gun nut. And I stroked that pistol opportunity in my head while the Sex Pistols shot up Motley Crue on my ride to school that day.

But I can’t blame an angry youth on why I don’t dress up for Halloween. See, the truth, I’ve always been the guy who “Does not participate in class.”

I love Halloween. Pumpkins. Spiders. Skulls. From cities to suburbs to the boonies – mundane living room windows dressed strange and magical. Death, fear and candy – the costume pageantry of interior desires, warring impulses, cruel reality clashing with cartoon fantasy, and yeah, of course, apple bobbing fun. It’s a great fucking holiday! But I just don’t dress up. I still do not participate in class. And as a father now this has begun to haunt me.

That’s why I’m writing this. A recognition, a confession, now time for contrition. (I have read “O” magazine’s habit busting issue.)

To the Trick-or-Treaters of Ogden Avenue, Jersey City Heights, 2001-2003:
I am sorry. I am the asshole who was home with his front porch light off.

Inspired by my fourteen month old son’s, “da...da…dag,” he’s gonna be a dog for Halloween. Next year no doubt he’ll be a fuller expression of his will, daring and dreams. But this year mommy will put him in a dog suit. And one Halloween perhaps, daddy will start dressing up too. And as we share who we’re gonna be, I’ll tell the story of the full circle grace that twenty-five Halloweens after my wishing for a gun one, I sat in Nikki Sixx’s living room, told him how as a kid I hated his music, hated his band, Motley Crue. Then Nikki smiled, “Sorry you never heard our cover of Anarchy in the UK. I was trying to reach you.”

 Todd Kreidler is a playwright. Among his projects, he is writing a musical based on Nikki Sixx’s memoir and music, The Heroin Diaries.

All Halloween posts from this series can be found here.

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