Halloween is, by far, my favorite holiday.
As a kid, I sometimes started thinking about what I wanted to be for Halloween as soon as all my candy reserves were gone in mid-November. I still love campy Halloween movies, dressing up, trick-or-treating and bite-sized candies.
But I wasn’t the only person in my family who shared an irrepressible enthusiasm for the most macabre day of the year. One fond memory of Halloween from my childhood is when my dad built a full-out haunted house for me and my friends.in the basement of the family home. No joke.
In 1984, my parents turned heads at a Halloween party as “Ambassador Zog” (a costume which featured full silver skin and purple robes) and a very pregnant clown. Nine hours later, the clown slimmed down and I joined the family.
That’s right; my birthday is the day after Halloween.
So maybe I’m a little biased on the topic, but with good reason.
The excitement I feel surrounding Halloween speaks to something greater about the holiday, something universal for a lot of my fellow enthusiasts: The fun of pretending.
A few years ago, the woman I was dating at the time selected an unexpectedly revealing costume for Halloween. At first I couldn’t figure it out. This was a woman who preferred fairly conservative attire, under normal circumstances.
Then it hit me. Halloween transcends normal standards of behavior, as well as some public nudity laws. The greatest appeal of Halloween, outside of the delicious candy, is the innocence of “acting out.”
When October 31st comes around, social inhibitions vanish. Roles not normally acceptable become permissible, if only for a night.
An acquaintance of mine once went as Osama bin Laden, with a rocket protruding from his posterior for good measure. Everyone has friends who opt for the risqu/ costumes, and I don’t know how many of my buddies choose to go in drag.
Halloween is the ideal time for experimentation of all sorts.
As kids, the most obvious experiment in role playing was to be something that only adults are only allowed to be in the real world. I had a sweet pilot jumpsuit one year, complete with gold helmet and army boots.
As young adults, that experimentation may be with our gender or the social role that we normally play. I don’t think any of us would be overly surprised to see a “macho” man parading in a tutu, come Halloween.
The day after Halloween, your normally buttoned-up female friend who was out all night in a tight bodice and heels will not be judged adversely. The “macho” man, in tutu the night before, will not have a different sexual preference.
Halloween is appealing for adults for the same reason many people find Las Vegas, Sturgis and Cancun appealing: you can play bad, look strange or behave startlingly different from your daily life without the usual negative connotations or consequences.
Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage.”
But perhaps Billy, the murderous boyfriend in the horror classic “Scream” might have put it better: “It’s all one big movie.”
Drew Haugen is a senior international studies major. His column appears every Monday in the Collegian. He will appear as a metallic yet lovable robot, Awesom-O 3000, for Halloween. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.