This often surprises people. My personality and interests suggest a person who would love nothing more than to put on a funny costume and wander the streets with a flask of spiked punch and a king-size Snickers bar. And the truth is that I would love nothing more than that.
Just not on Halloween.
Here are a few reasons why I’d like to cryogenically freeze myself from October 30th until November 1st every year:
I have only seen one horror movie in my entire life. It was I Know What You Did Last Summer, I watched it at a party in tenth grade, and I spent 83% of the movie with a couch pillow in front of my face. I still remember that scene with Sarah Michelle Gellar and the hair– OH GOD DON’T TALK ABOUT IT.
I have only once successfully completed a haunted house and it was in the “Kidz Zone” at the Tweetsie Railroad theme park in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I was twelve, my brother was five, and at one point during the TERRIFYING ORDEAL of which there was MUCH SCREAMING AND CRYING, my brother turned to me with world-weary eyes and said,
“Laurie. You’re embarrassing me.”
See also: Why I Dislike Football Games, Parades, and My Entire College Experience.
I don’t want you to misunderstand me– I love me some sugar. I will, in fact, fell an entire herd of chocolate chip cookies in the time it takes you to say ‘Family History of Type II Diabetes’. But candy? Oh, I’ll eat it alright. Put a bowl of York peppermint patties in front of me and I will pick, pick, pick at them until they are gone. But I won’t like it. And I will feel like fourteen kinds of ass afterward.
And if there’s one thing I hate? It’s feeling like fourteen kinds of ass.
More than the Freddy Krueger masks, more than the sea of drunken Sigma Phis in ill-advised Tarzan costumes, even more than the special brand of tummy ache that comes from falling asleep head-first in a bag of peanut M&Ms… I hate the pressure.
This is quite possibly my biggest beef with Halloween and it’s the same reason that I hate Valentine’s Day, New Year’s, and my birthday. I’m a pretty social person in general, but I occasionally enjoy a quiet Friday night at home with a cup of tea, a cozy pair of sweatpants, and a Hugh Laurie marathon. And when that’s what I’m in the mood for, no amount of dirty martinis and late 80’s dance pop can compare.
But Halloween is one of the few nights of the year when you are legally bound to be On.
And not only are you pressured to go out, you’re also pressured to have a Really Good Time. Like New Year’s and the annual Festival of Anxiety and Self-Doubt known as My Birthday, Halloween is a night when you must attend the best party, wearing the best outfit, and doing the Very Best Things.
And if you do not? If you somehow end up at the party of your neighbor’s cousin’s graduate advisor and don’t really talk to anyone? If you somehow end up donning an old bed sheet and trying to call yourself Julius Caesar (for the third year in a row)? If you somehow end up, god forbid, staying home?
You have officially Failed Halloween. And also life.
This year, I actually stood my ground. I happily insisted on staying in, sipping a glass of pinot noir, and working on a new song.
Some friends of mine were getting together for homemade pizzas and pumpkin carving, which sounds delightful, but it would have been me and four other couples. This is actually a fairly standard ratio for my social outings and it rarely bothers me, but it was Halloween. And if there is one thing worse than staying in on Halloween, it’s going out on Halloween and failing to drunkenly make out with one of the boys wearing a Tarzan costume.
So, I politely and happily declined. Instead, I chatted with my roommates over red wine and cocoa-infused vodka. I taught Matt how to apply eyeliner, caught up with Caitlin and Gretchen on relationship drama, and consumed some truly delectable frozen pizza. And around nine, they all went out for the night (proffering invitations) and I had the entire house to myself for songwriting and singing at the top of my lungs.
A most excellent Friday night.
But my friends kept calling. It came from a loving place, the calling. They were worried, I think, that I secretly felt left out and depressed. I mean, how could I not? I was home alone on Halloween! What fate could be more pathetic? So, like the wonderful, caring friends that they are, they kept calling and texting from the party, letting me know how fun it was, encouraging me to come out. They wanted to make sure I knew I was welcome.
And part of me was touched that they were so concerned, but another part of me felt more and more pathetic every time they called. I mean, maybe I was wasting my night. Maybe songwriting and wine really wasn’t good enough for Halloween. GOD WHY AM I SUCH A LOSER I AM WASTING MY YOUTH.
And then FF gchatted me.
He was home alone, too. Bored. He hasn’t made a lot of friends in town yet and he wanted to see what I was up to. Thinking about going out. Etc.
I could tell he was angling for a booty call, but couldn’t quite bring himself. He knew he didn’t want anything more than that, and because he’s a good person, he didn’t want to come out and ask me, for fear of leading me on.
But he wanted me to ask him.
In my weakened state, part of me was tempted. I mean, it was Halloween. Shouldn’t I be out on the town– young and free and making regrettable decisions under the influence of vodka and copious amounts of green food coloring? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do on Halloween? Could this surprise booty chat be what saves me from my lame-Halloween-fate-worse-than-death?
But the wise part of me won out.
Or rather, the part of me that really did not want to change out of sweatpants.
Either way, when I refused to take the bait he eventually signed off and we both, presumably, woke up the next morning in our respective beds of Sobriety and Chastity. Sometimes the Right Thing is not the Fun Thing, but I’m thankful that we didn’t go there.
But if we had?
I would have blamed it all on Halloween.