It turns out I may have a problem with Halloween. Oh, not on religious or moral grounds, and not so much because of the excess that it sometimes oozes, such as the boozing and commercialism. Even the outrageous costumes that Halloween spawns don’t really bother me. Heaven knows I’ve worn a few. More to follow.
I’m just sort of bored with it, and that’s a problem because so many people in my orbit are really into it, including my wife, Patty, who puts Halloween at the very top of her holiday list. It appears I’m a stick in the mud.
It’s hard to figure how this happened. For weeks, little Mikey Powers looked forward to dressing up and pigging out on a plethora of treats. Yummy. I can still taste the M&M wafer bars and other delights, although my sister could have all of my Candy Corn. Blech. We would dump out our booty on the basement floor and make trades. A pile of Necco Wafers for a Snickers? Deal.
Like so many other things, it was probably my generation that messed up Halloween. We baby boomers apparently decided that hanging on to childhood was desirable and that relinquishing all the fun to the kids wasn’t necessary. Anymore, All Hallows Eve is as much about adults as children. But, is that so wrong? I’m not sure, but even contemplating the question puts me squarely in the fuddy-duddy, old fogy category.
It’s a strange place to be in. I can remember dressing in layers as darkness approached, preparing for what the weather might bring on November’s doorstep in eastern Montana.
One year, I bundled up as a popular personality of the day named Tiny Tim. Not the character from the Dickens’ novel “A Christmas Carol,” but a flash-in-the-pan ukulele player known for his hit “Tiptoe through the Tulips.” His wedding to 17-year-old Miss Vicki on “The Tonight Show” set ratings records.
So I put on my Tiny Tim garb — a long, stringy wig, a fake nose, a toy ukulele, a high-pitched falsetto and a long overcoat. The getup probably made me look like a junior high flasher, but I was a hit!
The best part of the holiday was that Halloween was followed by All Saints’ Day, meaning a kid going to Catholic school — Go Sacred Heart Saints! — had the next day off. I could stay up as late as my parents would allow, with no wake-up call the next morning like my unfortunate public school buddies. It was a huge letdown when Halloween messed things up by landing on a Friday or Saturday.
My excitement for Halloween continued after entering the workforce full-time, ready for whatever costume party came along. As a 20-something, budding television sports anchor, I came up with the brilliant idea to dress as Tarzan. Seriously??? After purchasing a half-yard of leopard-style cloth, I asked my future wife to sew me a loin cloth. Is there any leftover for a sash? A firm, “not a stitch” was the answer.
While out in public, “Tarzan” drew plenty of stares. The banana bunch tied to the outfit was certainly eye-catching. Sadly, each banana would slip out from its peel one at a time as the evening wore on, leaving nasty stains along the way. Never could get the spatter out of the interior of my Volkswagen Rabbit.
Soon after, marriage and a family came along, placing priorities elsewhere. Many enjoyable years followed, taking the kids door-to-door or answering the doorbell to hear “Trick or Treat” with witches, goblins and political figures pleading for candy.
In truth, many of those years Patty did all the heavy-lifting while my job kept me off the frontlines. I was left to ask later, “how did it go?” and “did we have a lot of kids?” Maybe that’s where my Halloween blahs started, missing out on many never-to-get-back moments?
How to get rid of this funk? I’m working on it. Why not truly appreciate the decorations that make our house feel so much like home? With more kids than ever in the neighborhood, how about soaking up their laughter and excitement? Get more involved with the grand kids around the holiday, carve a pumpkin together? How about turning off the lights and cueing up “The Exorcist,” my go-to spooky movie?
It is also the last gasp of fall, my best-loved season, so relish it before it’s gone. Autumn brings out my favorite sound, the bugle of the cranes flying above and the most desirable smell, the roasting of green chile. In a weird way, Halloween kicks off the holiday season, so delight in it now before life really gets crazy.
As a “northerner,” I’ve come to really appreciate “Day of the Dead,” which follows right behind Halloween. This observance has touched the heart more and more with each passing year. Yes, Mike, take more time to remember loved ones, past and present, human and animal.
Well, what do you know? This introspection is starting to rekindle that spirit already. Not one but two black cats crossed my path on Friday the 13th and it was awesome. It has to be a sign my mojo is returning, right? I wonder if Patty kept my “Tarzan” costume?
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.