Nightmare Before Christmas: A Twenty-Something Halloween Dilemma

16 Jan

By Wade Rockett
SCOPE Magazine, October 1995

There was never any doubt about it: when I was a child: the absolutely very best holiday of the year was Halloween. Sure, on Christmas you got presents. Sure, on the Fourth of July you got to blow things up with insanely dangerous fireworks now available only on Indian reservations (and God bless the Native Americans for that.) But Halloween. . .the time when the dead walked the earth, when the air was thick with ghosts, when witches shrieked and cackled as they flew across the Moon and when I personally would eat myself sick on about twenty pounds of pure fructose in brown-and-orange wrappers…that was my holiday.

“We have to get a bag of candy,” I told my wife Angela a few days ago. I could sense the Great Day approaching and I was becoming as giddy as a schoolgirl.

“What for?” she frowned.

“Well, for the trick-or-treaters.”

“Wade, we aren’t going to get any trick-or-treaters. There’s the gate, for one thing.” She had a point. We live over a garage behind our landlady’s house, and there are two iron gates to keep out intruders and small, candy-seeking children. “And for another thing, there probably won’t be anybody out anyway. Hardly anyone trick-or-treats anymore.”

I reflected on this. I remember my parents warning me when I was a kid about razor blades stuck in apples and LSD injected into squares of caramel. They insisted on going through my haul before I could touch any of it; at some point, parents as a group apparently decided the whole thing was just too damn much trouble and nixed the idea of going door to door altogether.

My wife was right. Nobody was going to knock on our door on Halloween night. They were all going to the mall. I was completely depressed. “We have to get a bag of candy anyway,” I said sullenly.


“For us! We’ll eat it! I’m sorry, but it isn’t Halloween without Halloween candy. And a pumpkin. Definitely a pumpkin.” I wandered off, muttering angry curses against those razor blade-wielding phantoms of my youth who had destroyed my favorite holiday.

The next day I strode manfully into the living room. “We’re going out.” I announced.

My wife looked at me in bafflement. “Out? Where? Now?”

“We’re going trick-or-treating. You and I. For Halloween.”

“We are not.”

“Then I am. Look, this holiday must be saved. If the nine-year-olds of today are too lily-livered to brave a few homicidal maniacs and child molesters, then it’s time to let real men take over. Now c’mon, help me think of a costume.”

“How about a frustrated Generation X-er with delusions of grandeur?”

“Be serious. We could do one of those ‘couple’ costumes. Like, we could go as O. J. and Nicole.”

“That’s disgusting.”

“Mm. Yes. And much too obvious.” I thought for a moment. “I could go as Newt Gingrich.”

“That is scary.”

“Yeah. Especially if I make him a real newt, like a newt-man…with scaly orange skin and bulging eyes and a three-piece suit. That would be cool.”

“That would be weird.”

“Well, I went as Dracula for four Halloweens in a row. I figure I should go for something really original this year.” I picked up the TV guide and flipped through it, searching for inspiration. I noticed that Hercules vs. the Mole People with Steve Reeves was on later that night. I pictured myself in a tight loincloth and fake beard, my muscles oiled and gleaming in the streetlights as I traipsed from door to door with my bag of candy. I quickly dismissed the idea. A loincloth may have worked on Reeves’ iron-hard frame, but my physique can be charitably described as “doughy.”

“I could go as a character from Star Trek.”

“That’s original?”

“No, I mean a really obscure character. Like one of those guys in the red shirts who are always getting killed.” I was warming to the idea. “I could make a giant Horta and attach it to my back, and run down the street screaming ‘Captain! Eeyah!'”

My wife smiled sweetly. “Only if you never intend to be seen in public with me again.”

“Killjoy.” I returned to the TV guide. “I could go as Baywatch.”

“You mean David Hasselhoff?”

“No, no. I mean Baywatch. The whole show. Ooh! Or I could go as Melrose Place. I would devise a costume that embodies the spirit of seduction, betrayal, and intrigue that characterizes America’s favorite show.”


I shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably with a cardboard box or something.”

“How about a mummy?”

“We did buy that extra-large package of toilet tissue.” I glanced over at our Macintosh computer. “I could go as the Internet.”

“What does an Internet costume look like?”

“Um. . .decentralized, highly technical. . .with little pornographic images hidden in my secret places, for those who know where to look.”

“You are getting way too into this.”

“Am not.” But I agreed to wrap up the deliberations, as it was getting late and X-Files would be on soon. After a survey of available costume materials, we decided that my only real option was to tie a basket on my head, slip on an antique gas mask, and roam the streets as The Sinister Wicker-Headed Gas Mask Boy.

So now I can rest easy at night, knowing that Halloween still lives on; that this coming October 31st, the night will echo eerily with the rustling of rattan and the labored breathing of someone attempting to breathe through a gas mask filter clogged with thirty years’ worth of lint. But now I’m plagued with another disturbing thought: what if, on Halloween night, I suit up and step outside to find the streets clogged with hundreds of nostalgic twenty-somethings clutching little hollow plastic pumpkins and dressed as O. J. and Nicole? Or Baywatch?

Maybe I’ll just go to the mall.

One Response to “Nightmare Before Christmas: A Twenty-Something Halloween Dilemma”

  1. Christine January 2, 2007 at 10:23 pm #

    Rock on, dude. Halloween shall never die!

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