I hope you all had a Happy Halloween. Mine was sufficiently merry. Mrs. Nitmos and I are currently enjoying the 40% house tax on the kids’ trick-or-treat candy. The country may be a democracy but this household is crazy dictatorial with a ludicrous flat tax on Halloween goods. It would have been nice to get a few more Snickers but - bad economy and all - I understand.
Before the pirates and witches and Clintons came calling, I managed a nice five mile run through my neighborhood and another nearby. It was late Sunday morning and, as I ambled along the leaf-strewn sidewalks, I noticed something strange. Rather, I did not see something I was expecting. Where were the trees covered in toilet paper? Where were the smashed pumpkins in the middle of the road? And where oh-where were the baseball batted mail boxes and egged cars?
As the leaves crunched underfoot and the future ghouls laughed and played in their yard, I became strangely aware that petty vandalism, tears, and smashed fruit no longer play a part in the holiday.
What is wrong with these kids today?
Devil’s Night was always a much anticipated tradition when I was a kid. We liked it more than Halloween. It was our one chance in a year to get even with the neighbors we truly hated. My brothers and I would put on our navy or black colored clothing and run around the neighborhood soaping car windows so thick that they were no longer transparent, egging the house of the kid who dug up our dead cat (true story), and launching high-arching toilet paper missiles that draped over the highest branches of the neighborhood oak trees. We’d hide in ditches when the patrol car came through and try to elude the parents with flashlights (or run like hell if you were caught in their beam of light – this was some of the earliest fartleking I remember doing.) We didn’t break pumpkins or swing for the fences against the plastic mail boxes but we sure enjoyed the handiwork of those that did. We knew to put our pumpkins inside the garage on Devil’s Night. Some didn’t get the memo.
In the morning, we’d walk around the neighborhood and enjoy our – and others – devilment: Annoyed parents scraping hardened egg off their car, kids crying over their broken pumpkins, cracked windows being taped together, and one or two police reports being given with angry gesturing points in our direction.
I guess since Detroit has decided not to burn the city to the ground any longer*, the rest of the country has taken its lead.
I finished my run without sight of one act of traditional Devil’s Night tomfoolery. It seems that Halloween is a one day, stand alone event now. Instead of misdemeanor crimes and tears of sadness, it’s all about costumes, candy, and fun. How sad. Where is the counter balance to this night of joy?
For me, Halloween is about drinking too much, verbally abusing the opposing sports team on TV, and sending the kids to see mommy for their basic survival needs. And someone disconnect that goddamn doorbell!! In other words, it’s a holiday like any other.
Oh, Devil’s Night, how I miss you.
*Really, what is left to burn? Torching the same burned out warehouse again is just extremely cliché