Today my parents went to the pumpkin patch with my youngest brother. Naturally, at five years old, he was enthralled and couldn't wait to pick out the biggest pumpkin in the pumpkin patch. Meanwhile, at 17 years old, I groaned at the prospect of making the half-hour drive to the patch -- after all, Sunday is homework day. But there was more to it than that. Once there, I knew would have to wait in line for some bumpy old tractor where I would then be forced to endure a five-minute ride on some bristly bales of hay only to arrive at the patch, search the myriads of pumpkins for the smallest, least-damaged one, and then ride the aforementioned tractor back to the produce stand where it would be weighed and paid for. Very time-consuming; so I didn't go. But while that heavily-worded thought process ran through my head, it was at that moment that I simultaneously I realized: I am a Halloween Scrooge.
I'm just not feeling Halloween this year. But how can that be? I used to be the guy who loved Halloween! Normally by this time of the month I'd have already seen every single Tim Burton and "Scream" movie twice, DVR'd ABC Family's entire "13 Nights of Halloween" line-up, and listened to the "Ghostbusters" soundtrack at least every day for the whole month. And I used to love going to the pumpkin patch, too. There was always the smell of fall in the air, there was always warm apple cider waiting for you at the cash registers of those places, and looking for the biggest pumpkin I could find so that I could carve Jack Skellington into it used to be the best, but not this year.
Maybe it's because Halloween really isn't scary anymore. After all, in a world filled with horror movie directors who constantly try to outwit one another with their torture-filled bloodbaths, it's pretty hard to find something that really scares me anymore. I remember being a kid and seeing the $85 masks in stores that were just downright almost too scary to even want to wear, and if you had one of those masks as a part of your trick-or-treating arsenal, you were the coolest kid on the block. But now I see those masks and know that they're just made out of cheap rubber and are also an astronomical waste of money; besides, it gets so hot just 15 minutes into trick-or-treating that you end up taking it off anyways.
Or maybe the things that made Halloween fun and scary aren't really "things" anymore. After all, things have changed since I was a kid. "Tee-peeing," and "egging" people's houses or cars are no longer just once-a-year annoyances that parents used to shake their heads at the next day and reluctantly hose off, now they're things that parents actively watch for in hopes that they can sue somebody. When I was a kid they actually showed scary movies or Halloween-related movies on nearly every channel but as I've gotten older and looked for said movies on October 31, I've noticed that classic horror movies like "The Exorcist" or "Friday the 13th" or even fun Halloween movies like "Casper Meets Wendy" or "Hocus Pocus" don't even get shown as part of an all-day Halloween movie marathon instead losing their place to a reruns of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" or the most recent "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" spin-off (though those two shows are pretty scary in their own rights). I used to like staying up all night watching Halloween movies into the early hours of the next morning on Halloween eating my candy, but now you're lucky if you can find a movie on a channel airing past 11 p.m.
Or maybe I'm just spiteful of the kids of today because their Halloween is the only kind they know and they get to have fun, but I don't, because it's not the way I remember Halloween being. As I type this I realize that maybe I'm just not feeling Halloween this year because it's changed. Parent groups that make noise about what can and can't be shown exist now, costumes have gotten more sexualized for both guys and girls -- I mean let's face it, there have always been sexualized costumes, but when I was a kid, high school students used to dress up as Ghostface, not the "sexy nurse" and "gorilla with banana" -- and we now know that the 15 Snickers you eat on that night are going to take you days to work off. At 18 years old, the magic has been kind of sucked out of Halloween. I know the people in haunted houses are just that, people, and I know that there really are no monsters hiding under the bed. So what am I to do? Maybe I should just try and revive Halloween for myself, the way I remember it. Maybe I'll just Netflix all those classic scary movies -- and the kid ones too, because it'll never be a Halloween if I haven't seen Bette Midler in "Hocus Pocus" -- and maybe I'll go get a pumpkin at the grocery store and carve it one last time for old time's sake. I'll just try to keep Halloween alive for me the ways I know how to.
I think I'll take my little brother trick-or-treating, too. After all, it'll be the last time I'm at home for Halloween before college next year, and even if I'm not the one raiding the neighbors' candy bowls for the best ones and taking three when the note says "Please take one," I'll get to see someone else do it. Someone who still is scared of the monsters under the bed and who still sees Halloween as scary, but magic at the same time, like when you come up on those houses that somebody went all-out on. He can be scared and amazed for the both of us.