How to account for obsession? Or perhaps fascination is a better word. Everyone knows someone who leaves their Christmas lights up until July, initially out of laziness and then for the sheer glow factor. Folks who are drawn to the evergreen bough, the ceramic Santa, the life-sized snowman lit from within who is meant for the front yard but somehow migrates to the corner in the living room. Be honest. You’ve been there. That light in the heart of winter can feel like a life saver and I’m not talking cherry flavored.
But ghouls I have never fully understood. The comfort factor derived from a skeleton, or a scarecrow in Jason’s mask wielding a scythe; spider webs draped artfully across a doorway; adrenaline coursing through one’s body in imitation of mortal peril – none of these things resonate. I can warm to a pumpkin carved in almost any way and lit by a candle. Orange. Light in the darkness. A fright face to ward away the night. These I associate with the feel of the spoon scraping away the seeds and the smell of cooking squash as the candle wax pools. Friendly. Homely. Safe.
Zombies: not so much.
These are fetid individuals without full consciousness who are actively seeking to eat your brains. Is it simply the curse of imagination that causes me to shy away from this brand of fun? Too easy for me to actually picture them, or even one, lurching in halting but inevitable progress across the meadow and toward my house where I sleep the sleep of the innocent or at the very least the unaware? Yes, friends, this is the issue. I can actually picture this reality and what comes next. And then next. And then what comes after that. I do not go gentle into that ghoul night because that brand of night is not my friend. But this, I know, is my shortcoming. I am missing out on what for some people is the best thing going. Vampires. Werewolves. Gore. No, not that one, the yucky kind. And those Z people.
Ah well. What for my child self was an unaccustomed walk through the neighborhood, bags rustling, sight obscured by costume, the ebb and flow of the other trick or treaters creating a sense of abandon and wildness – the protected excitement of being out after dark – has become something very much darker and accepted as normal, its harrowing survival a rite of passage.
Maybe I’m just a big sissy. I need to keep the dark at bay and am wary of inviting it to my autumn party. I do respect the gesture by others, however. So get your zombie on, stir that pot, hold your breath. All Hallow’s Eve is upon us and who am I to stand in your way? Have an awesomely inspired Wednesday. And what comes next.Photo by Sean Stearns. Also the cupcakes. He is one sick puppy.