A Hallowed Holiday

October Men's Room

I know this much: If I were president, I’d be a terrible one.

I’d use the office to get good seats at baseball games. I’d replace “Hail to the Chief” with “Stairway to Heaven.” At every state dinner, I’d insist on the same entrée: vegetarian burritos. And, I don’t play golf.

Still, if I were president, I’d be extremely popular – because on Day One, I would make Halloween a national holiday. I’d call it the Trick-or- Treaty. Everyone would love me, even as they hated me.

“He’s an undisputed disaster as a president,” the talking heads would say on TV. “But, he gave us the Halloween holiday, so add another face to Mount Rushmore.”

For all our vicious disagreements about politics and statues and Russia and Dancing with the Stars, when it comes to Halloween, we’re pretty much a unified nation. Everybody seems to understand the value of having one day – just one day a year – when it’s all right to show up at work dressed as Charlie Chaplin and spend eight hours toiling alongside a vampire, a kitten, and someone who has clearly spent months putting together a blueberry Pop-Tart costume.

Everybody loves it, even the boss, who always tries to reinforce the authority role by making a grand entrance as either Superman or a prison warden. The office wimp will be the Incredible Hulk. The office cynic will pretend to ignore the whole thing until he caves to peer pressure and sticks a Post-it note to his chest and goes around calling himself Memo Man.

And why not?

Halloween offers us the priceless opportunity to set our ridiculous id free for a day. We can turn loose our inner Care Bear, unashamedly show the world our alter ego as sexy librarian Paige Turner, and examine just why wrapping ourselves in a mummy costume feels both terrifying and satisfying.

We spend every day of the year as Dr. Jekyll. There seems to be nothing wrong with giving just one of them over to Mr. Hyde (though without the murderous impulses).

Halloween is like Super Bowl Sunday, only without twelve hours of pre-game commentary followed by humdrum football.

On Halloween, we expect strangers to come to our house and ask for a handout – which we give over with glee. We look forward to seeing kids dressed up as pirates, princesses, cops, devils, angels, ghosts, monsters, and pumpkin spice lattes. We pay good money to traipse through dilapidated houses and have headless ghouls chase us with chainsaws.

Then, at the end of evening, we treat ourselves to a thousand pieces of candy and ride the sugar rush deep into Halloween’s bewitching, wonderful hours before life returns to plain old boring normal the next day.

 

Tim Bass is coordinator of UNCW’s bachelor of fine arts program in creative writing.

 

To view more of illustrator Mark Weber's work, visit www.markweberart.blogspot.com.