Halloween, a night when kids can demand candy from anyone they want
And they wonder why we are so screwed up.
Consider that by the age of five almost all kids my age were quite comfortable with skulls, guts, hideously ugly witches, beheadings, and all things evil.
Halloween was a day not only to celebrate the macabre but also to relish it. Adding to a kid’s delight was the fact we could go around the neighborhood and demand candy from anyone we wanted. And, in the true spirit of Trick or Treat, we would make anyone who refused to give us treats pay dearly for the snub.
I spent Halloweens in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn that had its share of goblins and ne’er-do-wells 365 days a year.
My friends in Sag Harbor did the G-rated, scaled down version of Trick or Treat (Out here, it should be called Tick or Treat). They all dressed like Casper the Friendly Ghost and politely walked around the neighborhood with their parents. I mean, one minute you are curtsying old lady Baker for giving you a stale Tootsie Roll; next thing you know you’re in the kitchen with mom carving a pumpkin with A Smiley Face. Gag me.
Just to contrast the two places, consider the fact that it was my neighborhood where they found the first razor blade embedded in an apple on Halloween. Really. My mother was outraged, but the kids were nonplussed. The way I figured it, anyone who ate fresh fruit on Halloween deserved to be punished. We ate our candy, of course, but cold hard cash was the preferred treat.
According to Wikipedia, the pretend encyclopedia, Halloween is a Celtic tradition that occurs during harvest time, around the time Bob Cousy and Bill Russell were eating corn on the cob. The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches, says Wiki.
This makes it sound downright religious.
But the first line from a popular play from that same era reads, “Enter Haruest with a sythe on his neck, & all his reapers with sickles, and a great black bowle with a posset in it borne before him.” This sounds evil to me — I’m worried about that sickle, for one thing, and why does the guy have posset in his bowel? And how can you be a playwright when you spell so badly?
They say that Donald Trump is going to be the most popular costume this year followed by Stormy Daniels, which is just a life-size horse face and two big pink balloons. You can also opt for the Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump costume, which is the same as the Trump costume but you have to look constipated.
Keep in mind you don’t have to Trick or Treat for candy. Back in my day we went around saying “trick or treat for UNICEF.”
I have no idea what it meant, but I made a lot of cash one year doing it.
Smart manufacturers make a fortune on Halloween costumes. When Davy Crockett was all the rage they sold “coonskin” hats. When the Beatles were all the rage, it was “mop tops.” When Jayne Mansfield was in the news, it was a neck with shoulders but no head.
By the time I was 12 or so, aided by my mentally deranged brother, I would create one of a kind costume like a “Masochist With a Doogie Howser Fetish,” or my classic, “Tortellini with Al and Fredo.”
By the time we were in our teens, Halloween had become an egg throwing ritual, which is costly, annoying, and ultimately unsatisfying unless you got bacon and home fries thrown as well. Once I threw a couple eggs at a house after the owner refused our request for Trick or Treat cash. He opened the window and yelled, “Can I get easy over on light rye toast?” We never bothered him again.
Though I was a good trick or treater in my day, I’m a terrible homeowner nowadays because I just don’t get into the true spirit of Halloween. Last year a group of cute little kids dressed as angels rang the bell. I answered the door with a four-day growth, a cigar, and a dirty T-shirt on and growled, “What the f . . . you want, you little a-holes?”
Another year I was busy watching a game so I let the little buggers take a handful of stuff out of Karen’s jewelry box.
When I was a hippie, they used to warn us about “Bad Trips,” goblins and witches and burning flesh and melting brains, etc. In other words, déjà vu — Halloween all over again.
Rick Murphy is a six-time winner of the New York Press Association Best Column award as well as the winner of first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and the Suburban Newspaper Association of America and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.