Afterthoughts: Boooooo.

Halloween? Bah humbug.


illustration: Daniel Fishel

I hate Halloween. Or maybe Halloween just hates me.

Every holiday comes with its own rituals. Thanksgiving—spend quality time with your family, and eat too much turkey. Fourth of July—take in some fireworks, and eat too many hamburgers. Arbor Day—plant a tree, I guess. Halloween’s rituals, though, have been mutating. The old tradition of kids dressing up and trick-or-treating door to door is fading away, replaced by a more adult celebration. It’s become the standard new favorite holiday of young adults, an excuse to disappear into a new identity and party hard. I can’t think of another occasion that inspires such enthusiastic, universal participation from my friends, and it all gets more amped up every year.

This is an anecdotal observation on my part; maybe I’m just imagining that the entire world is going gaga for Halloween. But a call to the Honolulu Police Department seemed to back up my impression. Cpl. Leland Cadoy has been patrolling Waikiki for more than 22 years, and he says he’s seen the neighborhood’s late-night Halloween celebration get bigger and more hectic, year by year. “It was always busy,” he says, “but [in recent years] the crowd size has gotten to an unsafe level. People come in already intoxicated. The roads are not closed. People are just dashing into the street.”

The costumes are getting more extravagant, too, Cadoy says. “Avatar was big last year,” he says. “We had blue people who were eight feet tall, walking around on stilts. It was great.”

I’ve seen first hand how into it people get. A couple of years ago I tagged along with a friend who dressed up as Michael Jackson from “Thriller.” This guy didn’t just throw on a red leather jacket and a Jheri curl. He assembled a crew of dancing zombies, rented a party bus and then roved the streets all night with a boombox, busting out the iconic “Thriller” dance routine on unsuspecting street crowds. The whole thing took months of preparation. It was impressive.

So what’s not to like about all this? Who could begrudge a party? It’s what people my age are doing, and I don’t mind if they do—I just wish they’d stop trying to drag me into it.

I don’t, myself, enjoy dressing up. It’s not that I’m particularly shy or self-conscious; costumes just aren’t my thing. To confess this around Halloween, though, is to invite disappointed looks and sales pitches. “Whaaat, you’re not dressing up? Do you not like fun?” The holiday has become a referendum on my personality. No one doubts my patriotism if I don’t go to see the Fourth of July fireworks; why do I get pegged as a spoilsport because I don’t want to walk around Waikiki in a big diaper?

It wouldn’t be so bad if I only had to make the one excuse. But, in the same way that Christmas seems to creep earlier and earlier every year, Halloween is slowly taking over the entire month of October. Not only am I conspicuously not dressing up on October 31, I’m being a schmo by skipping the five other Halloween parties I’ve been invited too, not to mention the office costume contest.

And thanks to Facebook, Halloween doesn’t even end with October anymore. I can already imagine the flurry of new “craaazy costume” profile pics that will be uploaded the day after. Yes, you’re a sexy pirate—such a free spirit. Halloween-themed profile pics are becoming the online-social-media equivalent of Christmas trees, browning in the living room after the new year.

The modern, adult take on Halloween gained popularity because it was supposed to be the one holiday with no obligations. No need to buy presents, or have heartwarming conversations with your entire extended family—just be free, have a good time! But, inevitably, “having a good time” became the obligation. Wacky Time starts … now.

No thanks. I’ll be sitting this one out, again. Don’t worry, I’ll join you at the bar next weekend. On the 31st, though, I’ll be home, in a plain, white T-shirt and shorts, munching on fun-size Snickers. (I might not dig on costumes, but it’d take a real Grinch to hate on Halloween candy.)

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Honolulu Magazine April 2019
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