Yeah, I Think I Hate Halloween

Illustration for article titled Yeah, I Think I Hate Halloween
Photo: Bruce Bennett (Getty Images)

On the “Things I Happen To Hate” spectrum—which, unfortunately, seems to be lengthening as I age—Halloween is nowhere near the pinnacle. In fact, it is a basement/replacement-level hate, down there with beets and “black Republican male haircuts”—acceptably hateable things that aren’t worth the bandwidth necessary for an active antipathy.


My Halloween hate exists at the bottom instead of near the middle because there are some peripheral aspects of it that I enjoy. Free candy, of course, is one. Now that I have children, I wait with bated breath for them to bring their spoils to me, so that I can rule with prejudice on whether they’re allowed to eat it (or if I will), transforming me into a War Streets hybrid of Pontius Pilate and Simon Cowell. I like how excited children get about this day. I like the ghost stories, haunted houses, scary movies, and the rest of the economy of fabricated fear built around it. I’ve even grown to like the newest annual Halloween custom—the onslaught of viral pictures of creative costumes.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that a few of my favorite memories are Halloween-related, including that time 25 years ago when I prepared to take my Halloween-obsessed 5-year-old nephew trick-or-treating, but he refused to go because the mask my parents bought him—the mask he’d been asking about for months—made him too scared when he looked in the mirror. This little nigga scared himself! (Do I remind my now 30-year-old nephew about this at least once a year? Of course! What kind of uncle would I be if I didn’t?)

So, if you like so many things about Halloween,” I imagine you’re thinking, “how do you hate Halloween? I’m not sure you know how hate works, Damon.” Although I did qualify my hate by noting it exists at the bottom of my spectrum, this question is valid. How can I say that I hate Halloween if I enjoy everything associated with it? Thing is, I don’t enjoy everything associated with it. And the thing I happen to hate just also happens to be the most important thing about Halloween: The costume. I hate thinking about them. I hate wearing them. And while I generally enjoy Halloween parties, I hate the social pressure to wear one if choosing to attend. (I’ve managed to circumvent this rule by being absurdly lazy with my costumes, like last year when I rocked a hoodie, some jeans, a chain, and some Tims and called myself a “’90s rapper.”)

best. costume. ever.
best. costume. ever.
Photo: Me

I don’t really have any clear rationales for this hate. But it’s always been there and has intensified with age. Even as a kid, my costumes mostly consisted of me either rocking some fangs or a hockey mask. And there was that one time I drew two lines on my face and told niggas I was a cheetah. I think I just abhor the process of deciding what/who to be, and the effort spent on being it. Maybe, if you want to get all psychological and shit, it’s been such a journey to get comfortable enough in my skin to marinate in it that I don’t want to wear anyone else’s. Maybe, if you want to get all astrological, it’s the Capricorn in me. I’m not an astrology-ass nigga, but I know enough to know that my annoyance with “So, who are you supposed to be?” could be a Capricorn thing because I always want to reply “It’s just me with a Zorro mask, nigga. You know who it is cause I told you I was buying one.” I don’t know.

I guess it’s ironic that I’ve had a hand in throwing a couple of massive Halloween parties in Pittsburgh recently; each a collaboration with my cousin Huny, who’s an unabashed Halloween stan. But I like that people like it. Kinda like how I don’t mind when niggas eat beets. Just don’t put any on my plate.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)