Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Party Pooper

My friend Sue called me a party pooper last night because I told her I wasn't doing anything for Hallowe'en.

I haven't done anything for Hallowe'en since I was eleven, and I thought I was much too old THEN. That year I went out as Carol Burnett, complete with heels (the only time in my life I ever wore them, and it instilled a lifelong hatred of them). Carol Burnett, incidentally, was my mom's idea. All I could have told you then is about all I could tell you now: she hosted a TV show that I've (still) never seen.

Can you say sheltered kid?

Don't get me wrong, the candy was nice. Well, the chocolate bars were. They'd be gone about as fast as I could two-hand them into my mouth, and most of the rest of the candy would end up in the trash.  But the rest of the festival was emphatically not for little Kenny. Even before I 'outgrew' it.

Anyone who really knows me as an adult can probably guess what irked me most about Hallowe'en... Costumes.

I disliked them then and I dislike them now. In any form. I don't even like wearing uniforms, especially the mandated male office uniform complete with choke chain tie. If you see me in a tie, I love you very much, put it that way.  But you take any costume, from simple to elaborate, and...I'm still me underneath it. I don't know how to be anyone else, and so I guess I never really saw the point. It just felt (and still feels, if I'm being honest) like a huge waste of time and effort to pretend to be something I'm not, when everybody knows it's really just me.

This is one of the big clues that I'm not really human, because it seems like to be a human being, you have to enjoy pretending. While I have a very vivid imagination and always have had, it's almost always imaginated things happening TO me. I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with this.

Now, I'm honestly baffled by the way Hallowe'en has morphed into an adult holiday. Pretending always seemed childish to me, and I was in a right hurry to get away from being belittled and called a child. But now adults do it, and they spend BILLIONS.

We haven't even handed out candy in several years, but that, at least, has a couple of non-Ken-centered explanations. Tux and Peach were indoor dogs and it would have drove both of them batty to have the doorbell ringing so often...but then again, the doorbell rang less and less often as fewer and fewer children came trick-or-treating, despite the fact we live across the street from an elementary school. Probably for the same reason so few kids walk to that elementary school (whatever that is).
I'm not being facetious here. Parents act as if there are pedophiles lurking behind every bush. I know, I know, it only takes one, but --

Well, even when I was a kid, you banded together to trick-or-treat. And I had nobody to band together WITH. No family close by, and all my friends lived in books. It sounds pitiful, but you only realize how pitiful it is in hindsight, you know?

All that said....

The underlying, ahem, spirit of Hallowe'en is something I really like. Fear. Never mind the silly costumes--a costume alone isn't frightening unless it's being used to conceal the face of a serial killer or something. Being safely frightened satisfied my need (I did have one) for adventure, while also satisfying my much greater need for security. So I like scary movies (the atmospheric ones, not the torture porn). The scariest ones I know are

  • The House On Haunted Hill (1999)
  • Rosemary's Baby (1968)
  • Alien (1979)
  • The Amityville Horror (1979)
  • The Thing (1982)
And I LOVE scary books. Stephen King heads my list for sheer terror. My top three frightfests of his (not everything he writes is frightening, in fact some of his best work is dramatic, not terrifying)
  • The Shining
  • IT
  • and his short story anthologies, particularly NIGHT SHIFT and SKELETON CREW
outside of Stephen King, the scariest books I have read are
  • DUST, by Charles Pellegrino
  • CARRION COMFORT, Dan Simmons
  • THEY THIRST, Robert R. McCammon
  • HOUSE OF LEAVES, Mark Z. Danielewski
  • THE TERROR, Dan Simmons

Scary music: I'm only featuring one track here. I just discovered this. It is, hands down, the most frightening thing I have ever heard.

Henry Cowell -- The Banshee (1925)

Happy Hallowe'en, everyone. 

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