After all, to a kid, candy is one of the best things in the world, and your access to candy is often very limited -- whether by a lack of money or parents who have your health in mind. To learn that I could spend hours going door-to-door while people willingly gave me free candy was a complete shock.
A few decades later, of course, my enthusiasm has waned considerably. This is partially due to the fact that I can now purchase candy whenever I want (although given the current economic situation, I should really be out on the streets trying to gather as much free candy as possible). But the costumes, and the event itself, used to excite me.
No more. Somewhere along the way, I must have crossed an invisible line of adulthood, and lost some of that joie de vivre (not to mention my miniature medieval knight collection).
I don't think this is uncommon; many people who once eagerly counted down the days to Halloween now barely notice it at all. I do, however, think it is a shame.
A friend of mine recently remarked that one can easily tell whether people are in their early 20s or older because college-age people and recent graduates tend to be generally social and positive, while older people (even those only in their late 20s or early 30s) tend to be more stuck in
Naturally, as a person no longer in my early 20s, this concerned me. And while those of you at a more comfortable distance from your early 20s may be amused at the idea that being in one's early 30s qualifies as "older people," let me assure you we're all in this together.
Certainly it's true that, as one gets older, one often has to take on more responsibilities. But this shouldn't leave us shambling about like tired zombies, our metaphorical flesh of joy ripped off in chunks by the metaphorical flesh-eating creatures of the daily grind.
(Tip to students: When asked for a metaphor, always use shambling zombies and flesh-eating. English teachers love that.)
Make no mistake: We are haunted. We are haunted by the bills we have to pay, by the work we have to do, by the large problems in the world, by the smaller problems with our health and by all the little annoying things in life, from broken televisions to Gary Coleman. And we find reality much scarier than any ghoul or goblin could ever hope to be. (This is why politician masks have been selling like wildfire.)
Oddly, the ghosts of Halloween can serve as a way to avoid what really haunts us. Some people have started to get back into the, er, spirit of Halloween, and host parties similar to Mardi Gras. Williamstown is hosting an event at Eastlawn Cemetery with haunted graveyard tours and various other entertainments. And all of it proves that Halloween isn't just about candy; it's also a convenient excuse.
Because that's what some people need: an excuse to flee from what really haunts us to more tangible haunts. An excuse to shake off the cobwebs and put up some cobwebs. An excuse to get a little bit ridiculous for a day.
Now, I personally don't tend to celebrate Halloween overmuch, because I don't need any excuse to be ridiculous. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am plenty ridiculous on a regular basis, and if anything, could probably benefit from a holiday like "Serious Day," when everyone wears suits and frowns a lot.
But if you are haunted by the mundanities of daily life and haven't been ridiculous in a long time, this is a fine opportunity. Let yourself be a little silly, and enjoy Halloween as a fine excuse. If nothing else, maybe you'll get some free candy.
Seth Brown is an award-winning humor writer, the author of "Rhode Island Curiosities," and still appreciates free candy. His column appears weekly in the Transcript and weakly on his Web site, www.RisingPun.com.