by Dana Cass
I hate Halloween.
Yes, world, I went there. I hate Halloween. I’ve hated Halloween since I was sixteen and my parents and I got food poisoning celebrating my mother’s birthday the night before (never get the chocolate fudge cake at the Cheesecake Factory. Why did we get anything that wasn’t cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory? Why were we at the Cheesecake Factory in the first place? It was probably karmic food poisoning for having poor taste. But I digress) and we spent the whole day, plus a couple days after that, puking our guts out. My first college quasi-relationship–we didn’t have relationships at Vassar; only quasi-relationships and marriages–fell apart during Halloween my freshman year. I spent Halloween evening in my bed in four layers of clothes, shaking. I get cold when things fall apart.
When I was a little girl, Halloween meant my mom making me beautiful costumes that were, in retrospect, totally culturally inappropriate (I was a geisha one year. Give me a break; it was the 90s and we lived in Nevada). It meant tromping the neighborhood with my best friends from down the street, Kaitlin and Carolyn, and eating candy for days until I had finished my own bag, then starting in on my sister’s. It was a glorious time and I relish every cavity I’ve had filled since.
I don’t need to wax poetic on college Halloween or postgrad Halloween because I think we’re all well-acquainted with the traditions. You dress in some costume based on your position on the scale of intellectualism (somewhere between “unironic ‘Jersey Shore’ viewer” and “person who drops the number of times they’ve read Infinite Jest in conversation, including ‘one'”). You go to a party with your friends and you cling to your friends the entire time and so does everyone else and nobody makes new friends and you drink themed drinks and someone gets sick and you wake up the next morning with a raging hangover that is ENTIRELY not worth the spectacularly mediocre evening you had.
I hate Halloween now for the same reason that I hate Founder’s Day at Vassar and any other event characterized by crushing peer pressure to HAVE FUN and GO CRAZY otherwise you’re SUPER LAME and KIND OF TRAGIC. It’s no great secret that I’ve downed my fair share of too many tequila shots and that I have a whole slew of embarrassing and potentially incriminating stories from my wild youth. But FACT: not one of those crazy stories is from Halloween or New Year’s or St. Patrick’s Day or Mardi Gras or any other those other holidays where if you aren’t wearing pasties and, like, doing body shots, you’re a loser and you’re never gonna be in any cool Facebook albums. They are all from cast parties. Almost exclusively. (Except for that one time with the Australians, but what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so I can’t elaborate.)
I like parties where I know everybody, or have at least identified them as Cute Sound Guy and called them the bullseye on my emotional dartboard. I really hate parties where the sole purpose is to drink until you puke in a houseplant. I like parties where the purpose is to drink while you play word games. I like parties that turn into everyone having intense drunk conversations in various corners. I like parties where you make new friends that aren’t trying to have a CRAZY NIGHT. I find that on holidays where fun is preordained, everyone is trying to have a CRAZY NIGHT, and they’re annoying and too drunk and someone is probably going to pass out and you’ll have to poke them every twenty minutes to make sure they don’t aspirate. Nobody wants to make new friends on CRAZY NIGHTS; they are too busy posing for Facebook photos and drinking the appropriate drinks and fixing their costumes.
I get bored at these kinds of parties. I don’t think it’s very interesting to sit around and watch other people do crazy things, and I’m not really the kind of person to do crazy things myself. Sometimes, when I get sad that I didn’t go to wild parties in high school, I remember that I don’t actually like wild parties. I like drinking too much with people that you can have a great conversation with, especially when you’ve collectively drunk away the fact that you’re all a little socially awkward and inhibited. My favorite nights from the months since I’ve graduated: the night Lauren, Julie, and I killed two pitchers of sangria at Firefly and sang Adele in Julie’s backseat until we were sober enough to drive. The night before the Fourth of July at book collective, talking about everything from philosophy to the company mission to God knows what after the fourth bottle of wine until four in the morning. 3 AM the night before my cohort parted ways after our new hire training in California, sprawled out across beanbags in the office rec room, listening to my coworkers–my new friends–swap stories about life in Afghanistan. Sitting around the coffee table at Jon and Jeannine’s apartment in Sunnyside having meta-conversations about the same conversations we had in college, which were usually deconstructing the nights we couldn’t remember, which were never Halloween.
I like those kinds of nights. They’re still impractical and a respite from the stresses of the real world, but unlike the CRAZY holidays, they’re actually fun. And memorable. Minus the blackouts.
So this year, I bought two bags of Halloween candy at Target to hand out on Halloween. Tonight, while everyone else is at Halloween parties HAVING FUN and GOING CRAZY, I am binging on orange Kit Kats and watching reruns of “How I Met Your Mother” and thinking about how happy I am that I don’t have to clean someone else’s puke off the carpet at a party full of biddies dressed as Sexy Mustard. Also how happy I am that nobody is bleeding all over my kitchen floor because they bit it while drunk-biking across campus in their Sexy Giraffe costume (unrelated: apparently gay men have their own rules for Slutoween).
May I spend all Halloweens in my future like this one; may my weekends be filled with pretentious conversation and nobody puking in a houseplant.