I have these two friends who recently bought a house together and went out a few days ago to price-check engagement rings. Another couple I know got married a few months back and now they’re talking about having a baby.
Me? I went to the dollar store last weekend and bought $16 worth of the tackiest Halloween decorations I could find. And then I put them up.
And that was my Sunday.
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve obviously hit the age where life is supposed to start getting real. I know this because my Facebook account has made it very clear, shamelessly posting pictures every day at the top of my feed of ultrasounds and tuxes.
“This is what your friends are doing,” Facebook tells me, just before I post another status weighing the pros and cons of regular compared to Double-Stuf Oreos.
I’m thinking the shift had to have happened one weekend when I left town to visit my brother, or maybe when I took an especially long trip to Publix, loading my cart to the ceiling with boxes of BOGO Lucky Charms. The Real World Police must have made their rounds just then, knocking on doors and looking for twentysomethings. And when they got a hold of one, they gently explained that play time was over. It was time to shape up or ship out. Straighten up and fly right. Get married and have kids — like, now.
And then they moved on to the next house.
But those rules just don’t apply during Halloween. It’s an entire month of horror movies and make-believe, the one time of year when the Real World Police are out of their jurisdiction.
If I want to do the Monster Mash at work, so help me God I’m doing the Monster Mash at work. If I want to let a cashier assume that I’m buying one of those jumbo bags of candy for trick-or-treaters, only to scarf the entire thing myself while little costumed punks in Justin Bieber suits anxiously knock on my front door, don’t try to stop me. You’ll only embarrass yourself.
So last weekend, when my roommate and I decorated our rental, you can understand how we did it with something to prove. I put up orange and black streamers with a vengeance. When I hung the skinny paper werewolf in the flannel shirt, and the plastic skeletons, and the cob webs, and the bright orange “BEWARE” tape, and the blow-up spider, and the cutouts of black cats and rats and snakes and pumpkins — you don’t understand: it was an act of rebellion.
“I don’t need a stinkin’ mortgage,” I told Mallorie, as I wrapped our fake tree in the living room into a mummy. “What I need is a more-gauze!”
Right now, the décor style of my house isn’t Seasonal or Contemporary or Traditional. I went a different route: I call it Indignant. Any day now, I’m expecting HGTV to get in touch for an expose.
For costuming, though, I tend to be more seriously. I always wonder, What’s the scariest thing I can be? Something totally absurd that keeps people up at night. What’s worse than any goblin or ghoul?
And, this year, the answer was staring me straight in the face: a grown-up!
So, all throughout October, I’ll be in character. I’ll forsake eggs for egg beaters. I’ll start wearing plaid. I’ll stop laughing at my own jokes. My closet will be packed with penny loafers — and, fun fact: I’m not even 100% sure what a penny loafer is, but you’re having a laugh if you don’t think they’ll be the cornerstone of my costume.
You see, I’m cracking this Halloween thing wide open. Dracula, werewolves, witches, soccer fans — none of these things are scary because none of them are real. But tuck in your shirt on a weekend, pop on a Peter Cetera record, use the word “Roth IRA” seriously in a sentence and then take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror.
Now that’s what I call terror.
*BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR