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Halloween Nerds

By Chris Colcord

Fort Wayne Reader

2016-10-24


I know I'm about thirty years too old to care about things like this, but it's always depressing to me whenever Halloween falls on a Monday. The energy's all wrong on Monday, it's the day when you rev up for the week ahead, not the day you set aside for high spirits and playful excesses. And the previous weekend leeches some of the Halloween spirit as well, for the Friday and Saturday nights before typically are the big Halloween party days of the season.

Again, I know how ridiculous it sounds for a middle-aged man to fret about the injustice of the calendar, but, like most Americans, I'm a little loony about Halloween. It's the second biggest holiday of the year in terms of money spent, after Christmas, and this year the expected tab for all Halloween-related goods is going to hit about 7 billion dollars. Which includes, I might add, over $300 million dollars spent on costumes. FOR PETS. I'll step back a bit and let that one sink in: $300 million for pet costumes. Stats like that have to make you wonder how crazy most other countries must find Americans.

But I'm a Halloween-crazy American too, so I'm not gonna try to grab any moral high ground here from pet owners. I love Halloween, and I love thinking about it throughout the Fall almost as much as I love the day itself. So now I'd like to return to the original notion I alluded to in the first paragraph what is the best day for Halloween, anyway? and declare that, surprisingly, the optimum day wouldn't be on the weekend. Sunday would be the worst, obviously too many conflicting values there but Friday and Saturday aren't a lot better, either.

I remember in college Halloween fell on a Saturday one year and at the time I thought, Great--a full weekend of masks and parties and Dionysian drinking. But it didn't turn out that way. After a full-blast Friday of make-up and marauding, everybody was too hungover and spent to make the next night any fun. The Halloween parties I went to on Saturday were pale and lacking energy and everybody seemed to be phoning it in. I know it's a hard gig, in college, to have to keep partying when you're drained, but well, that was the struggle. So the weekends are not the best. Plus, it seems to me that Halloween deserves to have its own special day, separated form the usual party-feeling that the weekends always bring.

So to me, the best day would be smack in the middle of the week, Tuesday-through-Thursday, with Wednesday being the absolute best day. By Wednesday night you've gotten through half of your work week and you're ready to indulge yourself a little. Tuesday's okay too, and Thursday will work fine as well, but Wednesday still feels the most right, which means that Halloween, 2018 ought to be a real swinging time.

Of course I'm aware how perverse it is that I've devoted so much time in my life thinking about this pressing issue, but I've found that most of my reveries follow similar lines. I've spent more time over the years ranking Brian de Palma's movies, for instance, than I've ever spent pondering Man's Inhumanity to Man, Is There a God, or why Adam Sandler continues to draw checks in Hollywood. (Two of these questions are unanswerable; not the God one.) Sometimes it just feels like the proper use of your cognitive skills to engage in a bunch of speculative thought about something that means absolutely nothing. The big issues can wait. Or so I like to tell myself.

For someone who's a little mad for Halloween, though, I have to admit that my personal track record for coming up with a decent costume is absolutely abysmal. Every year, the same thing happens: three weeks into October and I discover that I got absolutely nothing. I can't even think of one, it's like an ice block has settled on my brain. It always confounds me. I'm not an uncreative guy I'm a theatre person, for heaven's sake, with some experience with costumes but for some reason I can never come up with anything that's clever or striking or timely or attention-getting. I always face that shame that all lame Halloween party-goers face: some stranger at the party seeks you out and casually wonders, "And what are you supposed to be?" The horror, the horror. And it's doubly embarrassing when you see the guy that you've always thought was a total loser come up with an absolutely killer costume that everybody can't stop talking about.

Maybe it's because I dress like a cartoon most days anyway, and that by the time Halloween rolls around I've already exhausted all my most exhibitionistic tendencies. I still make a go of it, because I don't want to be the guy that shows up without a costume, and I'm too stubborn to just buy a cheapo plastic one, so I'll usually grab something from my wardrobe and gussy-up my hair and shoot for a nerd/geek look. Lame, but passable, if only just.

I still have a good time, of course, despite my costume fails, because it's Halloween and the booze is free and somebody has the good sense to be playing Nick Cave's Murder Ballads through the sound system. (Most parties I've been to have a strict "No 'Monster Mash,' No 'Thriller'" policy that I fully endorse. You don't have to look real hard to find some spooky, off-beat stuff in rock and roll that isn't played to death.) But I keep hoping that some day I'll come up with a costume that'll be cool and notable and might actually make someone laugh out loud. Maybe if I start working on it now, I might be able to come up with a winner by the time Halloween rolls around on that Wednesday, in 2018. It's worth a shot.

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