The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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When monsters grow up

One night of the year we permit the inner villain to come out, like a horrible monster revealed at the end of a movie.

Fictional horror’mdash;whether in movies, books, or costumes’mdash;playfully scare us away from true world turmoil and degenerates. We reserve the right for spooks and candy. We earned it.

On Halloween 2005, there was a six-foot-tall, cardboard cut out of King Tut’s bejeweled and golden casket displayed in a See’s Candy store; it was begging to be stolen.

Everything was going according to plan: Matt, in full gorilla costume, drove his van to the second floor mall entrance; J.P. concealed his face and body with motocross gear; and I had black eyes, a tattered business suit, and green gruel crusted on my mouth’mdash;the perfect zombie.

The ‘inside woman,’ Liz, was working the counter, and she would text us when the Asst. Manager was in the back.

J.P. and I hovered above See’s Candy on the second floor, waiting for the word GO.

Minutes went by’hellip; and then some more, attracting security guards to us. We stood behind a mall directory in front of See’s, when finally the text was sent: ‘OK. come in quik!’

We darted for Tut. Running into that brightly lit store, more treats than a trick-er could ask for, we jostled our hands over the King, lifting the head and legs, and then’mdash;
‘What are you guys doing?’

It came from a stout man in a white button-down tee. (Didn’t see him squatting low to the ground shelving chocolate boxes.)

Later, I’ll learn that the ‘sent’ and ‘stored’ text times differ by three minutes’hellip; the delay courtesy of bad reception.

‘Do you need anything?’ said the Asst. Manager.

My friend Liz mouthed to me: ‘Take it now. Go!’

I began muttering, ‘Uh, just wanted’hellip;’

J.P. shook his head. And I awkwardly finished, ‘Just wanted’hellip; Happy Halloween.’

The truck screeched rapidly at the first floor entrance with a puzzled-looking gorilla at the wheel. We left empty handed’mdash;just a zombie with a heart and a gorilla with a clean conscious.

It’s not that Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, and Dario Argento didn’t make effective products. Certainly Fred Krueger and Pinhead would never be without job, forever delivering spine-prickling packages.

We just became oft-wandering trick-or-treaters slogging about for a good scare’mdash;emotionally anesthetized by the old ones.

Prosthetic noses, magic gum, a compact with five grim colors, and a white wig used to be enough, say, during an elementary school Halloween parade. Dressing up as an old man was odd and fun enough for a worthwhile Halloween day.

Gradually, tricks turned into vandalism. Treats turned into stealing. And parties became binge-drinking escapades of testing ones limit’mdash;trading bowls of candy for toilet bowls of vomit.

I envision a future with grown-up monsters schmoozing around the seasonal elegant culinary dish of the night (perhaps a pumpkin turkey ‘ghoulash’)’mdash;tailoring more towards the like of bohemian diplomats, musicians, writers and scientists’hellip; This, of course, until I have my own children to trick-or-treat with.

And I think that’s where the final transition lies: Bonding with each other through scares and jolts. My parents did that much for me.

In fact, we made our own haunted houses in the garage: live patients would scream on a gurney as we disemboweled them (using spaghetti and meat-filled condoms); strings would dangle in the pitch black, perturbing people as they pass through; limbs would be hacked off by real chainsaws, the smell of gasoline further unnerving them.

For a couple of years it became more important than Christmas. And I think someday it will again reach that level because, while buying a gift is quick and easy, a complex, intricate and malevolent scare is one that keeps on creeping.

I’m just a monster in search of a happy Halloween.

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