Monday, October 31, 2011

Long past days of Halloween old

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I don't recall my father ever walking with me or driving me around for Halloween when I was young. And, unless my memory is really slipping, Halloween didn't seem as cold back then as it has been in recent years.

We had only one rule when I was a kid. Be home when the street lights went on, or, thereabouts. Sometimes, we'd be out until 9 or 10 pm knocking on doors. Back then, there was a greater sense of safety. Maybe it was false, but the worst we feared was someone putting a razor blade in the apples. It was more of an urban legend, but nonetheless, we always sliced the apples before we started to eat them.

Although we had store-bought costumes, many of the costumes were home made. It looks like that hasn't changed much in the past half century, but the store-bought costumes seem more elaborate. Or maybe not.

I drive my son around in the car, mainly to be able to warm up between half block trick-or-treat runs. In Chicago, the homes were so close together, you could hit 20 homes on one block. In the suburbs, the homes are spread out so far, it's a real haul to do 10. Long walking between doorbells. And it seems as if there are fewer kids on the street.

There's an old wives tale that many of the Muslim families don't celebrate Halloween, but we knocked on a lot of doors where many Muslims lived and they were extremely generous and welcoming. It was part of the fun we had talking to some of the courteous homeowners who welcomed the Halloween holiday.

The variety of candy has changed. In the old days, the big prize was one of the large chocolate bars. Mars. Snickers. Buetterfingers. Now, everything is made for convenience and cost. The chocolate bars are still the prize but they are distributed in "mini-bite" sizes.In other words, pretty small.

Nothing makes me think of change more, though, when we're done trick-or-treating and we're home in front of the TV set and it's early evening. Still no later than 7 pm. And we turn on the prime time sitcoms and the characters are talking about "vaginas," sex, "getting laid," and even worse. I won't repeat the jokes. It used to be that most of the forward humor was based on double entendres (adianoetas). Now, they are double-packed with adult humor. And it's not even 8 pm yet. (2 Broke Girls -- Two and a half Men, and more). Two and a Half Men isn't as funny with  Ashton Kutcher as it was with Charlie Sheen, but the "double entendres" have been quadrupled in meaning.

Can't we go back a little bit in time to the old days when sex was really secretive and children were more interested in exploring than getting achievement badges for it at a young age?

Fortunately, my son hear's the words on TV as we sort through the candy, and when something nasty is spoken on TV, he blurts out "Inappropriate language dad."

I used to hate the candy corns when I was a kid because they were so cheap compared to the giant candy bars. But now that the candy bars are so small and cheap, the candy corns don't look so bad any more.

Well, it wasn't the same as it was when I was a child running amok painted up as a pirate, wondering about sex and spending my evenings watching Batman, Robin and Roy Rogers. We worried about less. Of course the population on the planet wasn't at 7 billion and the cost of a gallon of gasoline didn't cost more than a burger.

Somehow, it all has changed. A little too dramatically. A little too shockingly. A little too fast.

I wish my son could have experienced the simple pleasures of a world without computer, where a telephone was a luxury and not a necessity of human communications, and a byte was a bite. Horror films were cheesy and not so hi-tech they are so realistic.

Long gone.

-- Ray Hanania

1 comment:

  1. I don't really understand why, but yes, it seems like much fewer kids go out trick or treating every year. I'm a lifelong Palos Park resident, and this year we only had 2 of our neighbors show up.

    Usually we buy large boxes of full size candy bars to give away, but the last few years we ended up eating most of it ourselves. This year we decided to only buy 2 bags of bite size candy and still ended up eating 75% of it.

    When I used to trick or treat in the 80s and 90s I also remember tons of kids out, and once it was so cold that my mom drove us around. Walking the neighborhoods in Palos Park sometimes means only hitting 3 or 4 houses on a block because they are so far apart. But you get your friends and hit 3 or 4 neighborhoods and you'd have enough candy for a few months.

    These days though there are curfews which dictate that trick or treating must end by a certain time. I took my cousins trick or treating in Burr Ridge last year and by sundown we were the only ones still out. There were so few people in fact that people were giving us extra candy just to get rid of it.

    The best halloween score I remember though was going to the malls (Orland Square and Orland Park Place when it was still an indoor mall). We got too much candy there, enough to fill large shopping bags plus comic books, baseball cards, and toys. Not sure if the mall stores still pass out candy, but it was a warm way to trick or treat.