Am I the only guy who doesn't like Halloween?
It's nothing religious. I have no problem with Satan. Or Dracula. I love horror movies, particularly the first Paranormal Activity and The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp, a movie so bad it was scary. And look, I get it. It's fun to dress up. It's festive. It's a time to celebrate and party. And seriously, what mature adult wouldn't pass up the chance to dress up as a twerking Miley Cyrus or a pretend-Ron Burgundy with a banana stuck in his pants? Oh right, that would be me. I wouldn't do that.
Halloween is an opportunity for everyone to show how "crazy" and "nutty" they are. "Oh, you are so crazy!" "That costume is crazy!" "Is that a red wig on your head? That's crazy!" "Did you see Jim from accounting? He's wearing a diaper like a baby! He's crazy!" Everyone's walking around showing how festive and happy and carefree they are. Bartenders are wearing gorilla masks. Flight attendants stick fake antennas on their heads. News anchors don ties with little pumpkins on them. Hipsters and software developers bathe. Everyone uses the occasion to step out of character and be just a little bit crazy! Girl, you are crazy! Dude...that outfit is crazy!
If you have little kids, Halloween is hell. If they're really little you're dragged to the elementary school's costume parade, where a bunch of seven-year-olds are toddling around in $150 Thomas the Tank Engine outfits while their crazy-eyes moms look on, counting down the minutes until they can pop another Xanax to get them through the day (by the way, those crazy-eyes keep being crazy long after Halloween is over). If you're the father, and you don't show up for the parade during the middle of the work day, then you're now officially a bad father. Or you're missing out on another moment that you'll never get back, so you feel guilty as hell. If you're lucky, your kid's costume won't get completely trashed during the little parade because it will be needed for...
....the big night! Trick or treating! That means two hours spent walking aimlessly around your neighborhood with four other dads that you wouldn't hang out with any other time except that the kids randomly chose each other to be with and you're stuck. So you make small talk and tell your kids not to get too much candy and try to sneak as many looks as possible into other people's homes and figure out if they're making more money than you. Who invented this? Why are you being punished? And all you want to do is be inside your cozy warm living room watching TV
Except you really can't watch TV because the goddamn doorbell keeps ringing. And there's a bunch of little kids outside with their parents who are pretending not to peer behind you to take a look at your house to determine how much money you're making. And you offer the kids a few Milky Ways and say stupid things like "what are you trying to be tonight?" or "that's so cute" or "here's a treat, so where's my trick? Hahaha!" Dumb. It's all been said. What's worse? When the doorbell is still ringing at 11 p.m. because there always those awkward middle schoolers with the drunk parents at home who don't have clue that their kids are still trick or treating at 11 p.m., or drunk high school kids who wear baseball caps ("I'm A-Rod, dude, OK?") and expect this gives them the permission to grab 87 Milky Ways with their nail-bitten, pot-smelling fingers and say "thanks man, cool boxers" before running off into the night to satisfy their munchies.
I hate Halloween.
I hate the "Mischief Night" before because I'm terrified that my car will be soaped or my house will be egged by some dickhead kids. I also hate Mischief Night because I know my dickhead teenage kids are probably doing that and if they get caught and I'm dragged down to the police station I'm going to pop an artery.
I hate the fact that if I don't dress up then I'm not cool or I'm a downer. I hate the people that go all out and decorate their houses with spooky stuff because they make me look like a loser and I really don't need any more help in that department.
I hate the TV shows because they always have pretend families that put on pretend, over-the-top, Hollywood-style events at their make-believe houses to celebrate the night as if everyone in America does the same. It makes me feel inadequate and I don't need any more help in that department either.
I hate that my kids bring home HEFTY BAGS full of candy and then throw epic tantrums when I try to reason with them that all of Trenton couldn't consume that much candy in a year. I hate that after they've gone to sleep I steal half their candy, store it in my closet and then eat it night after night over the next six months because I hear those delicious Three Musketeers and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and little yummy candy corns calling to me, tempting me, making me fat.
I hate the dentist on my block who gives out toothbrushes instead of candy. It's not funny and it upsets my kids.
I hate the drivers who tear through the neighborhood, at night, while kids are walking around.
I hate pretending to make a show of carving up pumpkins with my kids, pretending what a great time we're all having, until I inevitably cut myself and my wife says "I told you so God dammit!"
I hate that it's been five years since the Halloween after the Phillies won the World Series and now they're terrible.
I hate the fact that there are now local urgent care centers that will x-ray Halloween candy.
I hate the over-priced popup Halloween stores that suddenly appear in burnt-out strip malls and remind me how crappy our economy is.
I hate the Halloween parties that make me sit at home and fret while my kids are drinking God-knows-what and hanging with God-knows-who wearing a Miley Cyrus Twerking costume.
I hate the Christmas ads that automatically start appearing that evening, ushering in almost two full months of promotions, sales and incentives from desperate retailers begging us to buy their products so they don't have yet another disappointing year.
I hate that we're all trying to pretend we're re-living some magical time of our own childhood until we realize that it really wasn't so magical after all.
My kids are finally off to college so I'm past all of this, thank God. This year I'm going to celebrate Halloween differently. An outside light left on. A bowl of bite-sized Snickers left on the porch. A locked front door. A flickering TV set in my dark bedroom showing football. A bottle of Jack Daniels. Nothing scary. Nothing crazy. Now that I like.
A version of this post previously appeared on PhillyMag.com