Eat your hearts out Columbus Day and Black Friday — Halloween is easily America’s most absurd holiday. Does it serve any purpose besides fulfilling our national desire for scantily clad women and gluttonous amounts of food?
Of course not. Halloween is a pointless, albeit awesome, holiday purportedly dealing with the roaming souls of the deceased. But it’s really just about indulging our most American whims.
It also happens to be the ultimate populist celebration, one of the last true even playing fields in a “greed is good” culture. Creativity, not money, is the most important currency on Halloween night.
Dropping Benjamins on a fancy costume will never garner you as much attention as the most imaginative homemade creations. That professionally-made Batman suit may be slick, but it’s the guy dressed like Antoine Dodson who will be in all the girls’ pictures.
I’ve waged my own personal war against the Halloween costume industry since elementary school. Assembly line costumes take the imagination out of a holiday that frankly has few other redeeming qualities.
My mom’s rad Mutant Ninja Turtle get-up inspired this bias toward homemade creations. Disgust at seemingly cloned classmates did the rest; even an undiscriminating eight-year-old who thought “Batman and Robin” was a masterpiece found those “Scream” masks annoying and overdone.
I enjoyed the challenge of making (or having my parents make) a costume out of clothes and props around the house. It fed into my bursting adolescent creativity and similarly substantial desire for attention.
Highlights of my early years include Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker and, in one regrettable night of non-stop explaining, obscure computer game hero Commander Keen.
Apparently the series was not popular with the mothers in my neighborhood. Who knew?
The best part about making costumes was showcasing them to peers at school events. My greatest “fall festival” (as mandated by the state of Nebraska) moment was triumphantly parading through the school dressed as an ATM machine.
Imagine a lanky kid in glasses trudging around in a box with painted screen, fake buttons and slot in the bottom with an attached bag to collect candy. Actually, you know what? Don’t imagine that at all. Just know it was as gloriously awkward as it sounds.
While building my masterpiece, I assumed it would lead to school-wide adulation and popularity. For some mysterious reason, this did not happen.
Maybe if I’d waited 10 years, the ATM would have been more warmly received. Halloween costumes are a peculiar phenomenon: Childhood popularity leads into teenage dormancy, only to see a spirited revival in the college years.
It’s not hard to see why ever-thirsty college students embrace Halloween. A population that can turn C-Span into entertainment with its quest for drinking activities found the holiday a natural fit for its desire to throw elaborate parties and see each other naked.