She catches me before I can reach the door. A saleswoman with a syrupy-sweet grin asks if I want to inspect the new stock of Halloween merchandise. For the rest of America, it is barely Sept 20. But as I stand in the Hallmark Store in Montgomery Mall, it seems like Oct 31.
Halloween is filled with promotional tie-ins and shameless merchandising, as corporations turn All Hallow's Eve into a two-month affair. But if advertisers can celebrate Halloween early, then I too can take advantage of the holiday by trick-or-treating early on Oct 19. No one can blame me, when every mall in America is acting as if Halloween has already arrived. If my plan works, I will be able to trick-or-treat for two weeks before Halloween even begins.
Before I go pre-trick-or-treating, I do a little research on predictions for popular Halloween costumes in 2003. According to the Halloween Advertising Agency, there is a strong resurgence of macabre outfits. Well-made vampire disguises will probably be popular, and Elvira costumes will be in great demand.
I want to be the trendiest trick-or-treater, but to my great dismay, I find that I have neither a vampire nor a witch costume in my arsenal of disguises. I am in possession of an Elvira costume that my uncle used for Halloween two years ago, but I decide that dressing up as the "Mistress of the Darkness herself" might make me a little too sexy.
I finally settle on a brown cloak and a cherry-red wrestling helmet and decide that, if anyone asks, I am dressed as a demented professional wrestler. For my trick-or-treating candy container, I choose a plastic orange pumpkin. The finishing touch is a paper sign reading, "Trick-or-Treat! Happy Premature Halloween!"
It is a blustery fall day as I start my quest and ring the first doorbell. No one answers. I ring the bell again, but still there is no response. As I turn away from the front door, I see a man watching me through a window in the house. I ring the doorbell a third time, but he turns away and watches television.
Apparently, some people are only kind enough to hand out free candy one day a year. Silently cursing the man, I walk to a house across the street. I ring the doorbell twice, but no one answers.
As I step off the porch, a car pulls into the driveway. The car door opens, and a dog that is a cross between a rabid poodle and the satanic Doberman pincer from The Omen runs towards me, barking. I throw out my arms in self-defense, and the dog jumps up, planting its front paws on my waist.
A scared-looking elderly couple step out of the car. "What do you want?" asks the man. I grab the dog's collar and hold the barking mass of fur at arm's length. Struggling with the dog, I wish the man a happy Halloween.
"Oh," he says. He walks toward his house. As an afterthought, he turns around and drags the dog away from me.
I am getting nowhere, and the air is turning chill. Perhaps there are good reasons why more people don't go trick-or-treating two weeks early.
My plan failed miserably. However, the experience was not a total loss. Halloween, a celebration of the weird and perverse, isn't a holiday that entices people to perform such random acts of kindness as handing out candy to a premature trick-or-treater. Christmas, on the other hand, fosters joy and love. Like Halloween, Christmas rituals have been usurped by corporate greed, offering me the perfect chance to take advantage of society's goodwill surrounding Dec 25. Perhaps people will be more sympathetic if I dress as Santa Claus and go caroling in November? My neighbors might even give me presents.
John Visclosky. John Visclosky is, suffice it to say, "hardly the sharpest intellectual tool in the shed," which is why he has stupidly chosen to here address himself in the third person. He's a mellow sort of guy who enjoys movies and sharing his feelings and innermost … More »