Halloween: Being Somebody

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

It's a minor holiday--but only Christmas gets more build-up. Partly it's the decorations. In the stores, all over people's porches and yards. It's when the weather really starts to turn, and that's like announcement music in the background of the days. Also, it's for kids--grown-ups pretend, so kids will have fun. The Easter Bunny? The Tooth Fairy? No comparison. Only Santa can compare to ghosts and witches for sheer kidness. Even more involvement on Halloween though, because they get to be stuff and not just watch.

What is it about really young kids getting into costumes or having their faces painted? They seem a bit bewildered in the early stages of the process. Fascinated--but not sure what to make of it. Especially looking in the mirror or at their friends. Maybe it makes them wonder about the whole idea of "being somebody" in the first place? I mean, if you're not used to being somebody in the first place it might be a more profound thing to put on a costume.

It's like that time I was watching Sesame Street with my daughter when she was 2 or 3. It was "B" day, so they showed all kinds of things that start with "B"--balls and beans and bears and, of course, butterflies. Cartoon butterflies, real butterflies, model butterflies, all kinds of butterflies. Then they showed a video of a caterpillar--like in a nature documentary. It was weaving the cocoon around itself and there was no music, just little rustling sounds, very realistic. Then the picture faded out on the finished cocoon and faded back in as it was cracking open and then the music came up--and out came a fabulous butterfly. After a minute, my daughter--who had been watching very intensely--looked up at me and said: "Daddy, when I grow up will I be a person?"

Maybe that's the mystery for a kid having whiskers painted on her cheeks? Of course it only lasts a minute, at the beginning of it all; then she'll forget about it and just play--play, play, play. Lord, how I wish I could still play like that. But I've been the somebody I was in the first place for too long.