My first job out of college was in Seattle at a store that specialized in party supplies and costumes. To be fair, the only reason I even applied there was because it was across the street from a bus stop I found myself at quite a bit, but the fact that I had just graduated with a BFA in Theatre Arts sure helped me get my foot in the door and as it happens this would be the only job I had the entire time I was in Seattle. Also it gave me a Vietnam vet-like reaction to popping balloons.
But I digress!
I started at the costume shop right around Halloween, and as previously mentioned thanks to my theatrical bent I embraced the vibe for all it was worth. We were encouraged to dress up pretty regularly so as to show off the wares better, and I was never shy of throwing on a space suit or a chainmail shirt or whatever. And that was also the year that “Fight Club” came out, so you BETTER believe I freaked more than a couple of people out with realistic split lips and black eyes. Forget the fact that the rest of the year was quiet and there were days regularly where no one came in, Halloween was my new Christmas.
Now, this was kind of a significant change for me. As a kid, I was pretty much the definition of a scaredy cat. Ghost stories? Sure, I’d listen to ’em in the light of day but spend the night wide awake in cold, sweaty terror waiting for something to burst through my window to come spirit me away. And our house was in a very, very quiet neighborhood. Every creak, every rustle was magnified 1,000 times and I swear there were nights I almost passed out from keeping the covers over my head.
When it actually gets closer to Halloween, I’ll share some of my fave terror tales with you guys.
Now, right around high school when I started listening to ‘metal and reading Lovecraft and Fangoria and whatnot, Halloween began to take on a significance that it hadn’t before. I was too old to trick or treat, of course, but that shortening daylight and chll in the air embued me with a sense of excitement and this funny notion that anything could happen…if you only knew the right incantation.
Sidebar: my family also had some friends at this time that had a cabin in the woods that was nicer than my house in the city and they had a satellite dish. Oh, I do so fondly remember the nights watching the Sci-Fi channel re-run “Tales from the Darkside” and “Twilight Zone” in the mountains miles from anything you’d call civilization while the grown-ups played cards. Creepy/groovy.
Anyway. College came along and with that came booze and Halloween became just another excuse to party, but I never half assed it. One time I was one of The Misfits (of the Glenn Danzing variety, not Jem and the Hologram’s nemeses) and even though it was probably about 40 degress outside I walked around without my shirt all night, my clip on devil lock and my duct tape armbands a testament to my 20 y.o. invincibility. That also reminds me of another story about that night…but not here, not now. It’s a good ‘un, tough!
Really, I guess there’s always been a little bit of autumn twilight and jack o’ lantern-ness in my soul. It just took a while for me to realize it. 8 year old me and the current version may not see eye to eye on certain aspects of a good scare, but at our core, we both love ’em. Although every now and then, I’m still afraid of the dark.
And the fact that August is half-way over and I swear I see that sort of honey colored quality filtering in around sunset (to say nothing of the fact that Target is already putting out their Halloween stuff!!!) gives me that chilly sense of excitement creeping in around the edges. I cannot wait for October.