A few days ago, I walked by a dollar store and saw a small display of Halloween costumes and decorations. I was flabbergasted. Halloween is my favourite holiday of the year, and it snuck up on me completely. I felt suddenly displaced, out of whack with the space-time continuum.
For reasons beyond my comprehension, Halloween is not a well regarded holiday in Australia. It seems to be considered the ultimate example of the contamination of Australian culture by American marketing and consumerism. I am among the first to admit a hatred of the marketing machine, and for this reason avoid fabricated Hallmark gift-giving holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Secretary Day, and Mother’s/Father’s Day. And, I concede there is something unsettling in the fact that Halloween is second only to Christmas in consumer dollars spent.
But, Halloween is FU-UN. It is FUN to be ghoulish and macabre (note the proper use of the adjective). It is FUN to dress up and pretend to be someone (or something) else for a day. It is FUN to eat so many Bottlecaps, and Smarties, and miniature Three Musketeers Bars, and Wax Lips, and Pixie Sticks, and Tootsie Rolls, and Junior Mints, and Atomic Fireballs that you shit sugar cubes for a week.
Marketing mania aside, what struck me the most was the simple fact that it doesn’t FEEL like Halloween. Why not, you might reasonably ask? Because it is spring, of course. I get disoriented each time I look at the calendar or catch wind of an NFL score or see a news blip about the World Series then walk outside into warm white sunshine. In the archives of memory and sensation football, Halloween, and the appearance of Christmas decorations are indelibly linked with crisp cool winds, orange slanted sunlight, and the smell of distant wood fires, not with blooming Jacaranda Trees, lengthening days, and the cacophonous din of sexually charged birdsongs.
One of my biggest anxieties about moving to Australia was how I would handle the football jones. Usually, each summer, just before the pre-season, my body begins to physically crave a Sunday spent prostrate on the couch listening to the insouciant chatter of sportscasters punctuated by mindless marketing pitches for beer, cars, and shipping services. Because of the transposed seasonal transitions, that jones never materialized. Nonetheless, when Kevin finally figured out how to “acquire” NFL broadcasts (with the commercials conveniently edited out) I jumped onto the couch with heart-pounding colon-wrenching anticipation…and then I was lulled to sleep by the sweet strains of Al and John, blathering away…