Tuesday, October 30, 2007

we're creepy and we're kooky, we're altogether ooky

We perch on the eve of our first Halloween in Lincoln Park.

If all the decorations didn't tell us that the neighborhood takes the holiday verrrrrrry seriously, our neighbors certainly have. One by one, everyone within a three-house radius has stopped by to warn us to get a lot of candy. No, a LOT. They gesticulate wildly and imitate backing a skip-loader of Mallomars into the driveway.

So, K and I headed down to the 99¢ store to load up on moral decrepitude in edible form. We had a houseguest this weekend who Does Not Approve of candy, and I feel a little guilty about being party to the porkery that is about to ensue. But no way am I going to be one of those killjoys who hands out shiny new pencils (ugh).

Did anyone read the article in yesterday's LAT, in which they interviewed a bunch of professional experts about Halloween? I particularly liked the several who said that with their own kids, they let the little darlings pick out three favorite pieces of candy and then they give the rest away. For one thing, how sadistic. And for another, if candy is so terrible, isn't giving it away even more unethical? If they had the courage of their convictions, they would burn it, in a grand rite (perhaps in the center of Lincoln Park!), wearing appropriate ceremonial garb.

No, it seems obvious that if Halloween has any purpose at all, it is as a reversal holiday, where the lowest on the totem pole spend a day pranking[1] those at the top, like Kalends for the Romans or England's Feast of Fools. It's not a big reversal for the kids so much as it is for the parental control systems: kids may gorge on candy all through the year, but on Halloween, it's with permission. And we all know that kids have a high tolerance for the scary and the gross -- higher than adults' tolerance by far -- but on Halloween, parents allow the love of the ooky to show itself.

Oh yeah, about the 99¢ stores: We checked out both the one on Foothill (between Towne and Garey) and the one at the corner of Towne and Arrow, and I'm here to report that the latter outstrips the former by several furlongs. At the Foothill store, we only found one bag of acceptable candy whose expiration date was in the future -- and given the hygroscopic, bacteria-inhibiting nature of sugar, that's gotta be a really bad sign. The T&A store also had a much larger selection. And most of all, it had cheerful employees in costume, including a long-haired kid dressed up as Jesus. We saw him walking across the parking lot, heading to the Golden Ox, as we pulled in, and when he saw me grinning, he grinned back and gave me the Sign of Peace.

We have not gone all out with the decorations (which is an understatement). Next year we may concoct a mad-scientist theme, but this year we're making do with two pumpkins (one of which will have a hatchet planted in its noggin, so say hello if you're on our street). And friends are coming over to hang out and help hand out candy from the skip-loader in our driveway, so a fun time should be had by all.

Now, sing along with me:
Our house is a museum
Where people come to see 'em

We really are a scree-am

The L.P. families.

So put a witch's shawl on,

A broomstick you can crawl on,

They're gonna pay a call on

The L.P. families.

[1] Yes, I used "prank" as a verb! That shows that I'm keeping my head in touch with America's youth! Suck it, Fowler!


dr said...

We've typically rationed our four-year-old's Halloween candy: three pieces of the holiday itself, followed by two pieces a day (one for lunch, one for dinner, blah blah blah) thereafter. (It lasts almost until Christmas, this way.) That said, it's partly an age issue: I can easily imagine lifting the ration for the holiday itself in another year or so (or perhaps three, so that we don't have to enforce a double standard: "your big sister can eat all the candy she wants, oh unlucky second-born, but YOU have to stop after three pieces!"). I don't see that going over well.

me said...

We saw Jesus too, in fact he check us out as we bought our crystal geyser and construction paper (sorry, no candy for us unless we run out of these 2 bins of halloween pretzels). Jesus made Jesus jokes to my husband the entire time he checked us out.

-Goddess of Pomona

Mrs. Tiki said...

One year we got on a kick about not handing out sugary crap, so we decided to hand out little boxes of raisins. It sounded like a great idea, but when it came time to hand them out, I felt so ashamed of our killjoy treats that I found myself trying to slip the boxes into the kids' trick-or-treat bags without letting them see what I was putting in there. This year we're just leaving for the night, but I actually feel less guilty about that than I would about distributing raisins again.

Ed said...

Whether one gives candy, pretzels, or raisins, Halloween is not so much a sugar-ingesting night for kids as it is an opportunity for a neighborhood to be well, neighborly. Despite the proliferation of holidays in our calendars, Halloween stands alone in uniting a community. For one night differences don't matter. Bizarre and strange are celebrated. Children and adults walk up the path to a home they would otherwise never visit. We welcome not only the cute princess but the most disgusting of ghouls into our yards. Halloween isn't about candy, it's about community.

We are proud to live in Pomona and proud to be residents of a neighborhood that is willing to give its time and money to create a memory that may last a lifetime.

That's my 2 cents.