Friday, November 07, 2008

COLUMN: Halloweenie Revisited

So I wanted to come up with a holiday themed column this week, but Halloween's a tough one for me. Every year, without fail, I'm the Halloween grinch.

I've already fessed up in these pages that I can't stand dressing up in costume. Some people might think its fun -- but my vote remains that it's creepy and stupid. And I don't just think it's extra stupid dumb for adults (which it is.) No, I hated it as a kid, too.

In an effort to join my friends in their current fad of let's-post-old-and-embarassing-photos-onto-Facebook, I recently found myself perusing old scrapbooks and grimacing at some of the Halloween pics that turned up. I found a 9-year-old Shane dressed up like a hobo, pleading at the camera with a look that clearly said PLEASE-MOM-JUST-LET-ME-GO-CHANGE. I found a 6-year-old bicentennial Uncle Sam Shane with the same facial expression, despite wearing a hat that was, admittedly, pretty awesome.

Worse yet is dealing with OTHER people costumed up. I have enough social anxiety as is, don't make me talk to you while you're dressed up like Harry Potter. Between this column and my DJ gig, I've had the pleasure of meeting roughly eleventy billion people in the Quad Cities. I have a hard enough time keeping names and faces straight, and that job becomes ten times harder when you're dressed like Barney the Dinosaur. If you ever want to see me have a full-on social breakdown, just put on that Yoda mask and come say hi. It ain't pretty.

Plus I just don't like any of the usual Halloween stuff. Horror movies where actors with chainsaws jump out and go "BOO!" are my least favorite thing ever. If you've been to a scary movie with me ever, (1) you are a girl, (2) YOU chose the movie, and (3) you must've been really, really cute. Same goes for haunted houses -- no offense, but clearly the only thing worse than actors with chainsaws are Jaycees with chainsaws. And that's nothing against the Jaycees, who are a fine organization which, according to their website, helps young people develop personal and leadership skills. This is apparantly accomplished by applying fake blood and scaring the bejeezus out of paying customers.

Don't listen to me, though. Go to haunted houses, get spooked out of your head, and let your money go to a good cause. I'm simply a Hallo-weenie, I know. Heck, I don't even like pumpkins when they're in non-pie form. They smell, their innards are slimy and gross, and I'm lousy with a carving knife.

So my options for themed columns this week are lacking. Bereft of ideas, I sat around trying to come up with something appropriately creepy to write about. There was only one obvious option:

Drive around in the country in the middle of the night and hope something spooky happens.

Well, I just got home and I'm sad to say: No UFO's, no unexplained time losses, no evidence of probing. No Bigfoot, no chupacabras, no strange curse-wielding gypsies to accidentally run over. Not even one Child of the Corn to pop out and say howdy. Dang my luck.

Of course, I had my satellite radio tuned to the 80's channel the whole time, so it sorta blew the mood. It's tough to get creeped out while listening to "The Safety Dance." Jason never hacked anybody to death to the strains of "Whip It," and I'm pretty sure that Freddy Krueger never spun anybody right 'round baby right 'round like a record baby right 'round 'round 'round. Not one UFO and/or boogeyman anyplace.

Look up at the night sky. With the naked eye, we can only see a teeny tiny bit of the cosmos. And in that teeny tiny bit, there's a kajillion stars that could have a kajillion life-supporting planets circling them. It seems pretty egotistical to assume that we're the only place in the entire endless universe with enough smarts to grow opposable thumbs.

Still, it's a bit of a reach to go from opposable thumbs to dilithium crystals and warp speed space travel, so my odds of stumbling onto little green men are thin at best. Let's say that you were a society capable of breaking all known rules of physics and engineering. I'd seriously hope that you'd have better things to do with your days than buzz Earth and occasionally probe the weird obese hillbillies that turn up on talk shows claiming alien abduction. These tales would hold a lot more weight with me if they were to take, say, Bill Gates or, heck, anyone with teeth.

But I'm not giving up on my quest to find the Halloween spirit. The world remains a fairly spooky place. Ask the Brits, who just this week unveiled classified documents of military encounters with UFO's from decades past. Or ask the cop in Texas who filmed what many think is a chupacabra (or a reeeally ugly dog) on his dash-cam. Or ask the Japanese team who just this week unveiled what they claim to be indisputable scientific proof of a Yeti.

Sometimes it's fun to celebrate the unexplained -- and maybe that's what Halloween's really all about. Or maybe it's just about candy and knowing all the moves to the "Thriller" dance. Either way, have fun with it. Who knows, maybe one day I'll join you.

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