OCTOBERFEAST – Trick or Treat!

[OCTOBERFEAST is the greatest celebration of the year, a revelry dedicated to pop-culture’s most nutritious Halloween detritus. Plastic screams and artificial sweeteners have never been more bountiful. In the old country, villagers refer to the extended party as Satan’s Snacktime]

If you’re reading this, you’ve survived long enough to reach the final day of OCTOBERFEAST. Congratulations. I can’t even tell you how many celebrants I’ve seen collapse halfway through, proving themselves too faint of heart to endure the satanic shindig. Terror-induced heart attack, alcohol poisoning, spontaneous combustion, sugar-coma – a ticket to this event also grants admission to death by about ninety-nine different methods.

But here we are – alive and demented as ever on Halloween! This day brings us the concluding activity, an event that anyone with a heart (even a black one) should enjoy taking part in. Today, for a few hours, we reverse the relationship between the dominated and the dominating. The powerless become empowered. The ruling class elite must answer to the disenfranchised. And in the process, boatloads of candy are consumed.

Tonight’s featured enterprise is, of course, trick or treating.

At this point in the history of OCTOBERFEAST, trick or treating is a given. It’s an activity that most of us have participated in but   have also taken for granted. So while even the most amateur of feasters can recall a fond trick or treating experience, few of us take the time to think about it. To apply some conscious analysis of the phenomenon. When this occurs, one is able to most fully appreciate this customary miracle.

Let’s start with the more easily identifiable reasons as to why trick or treating is fuggin’ incredible. Consider the premise in its simplest form: kids dress up in costumes, walk about their neighborhoods after sunset, and get as much free candy as they can carry home. Think about this from the youth’s perspective: Costumes rule. Being out after dark kicks ass. And since children haven’t been corrupted by money or sex, candy is the most highly sought-after commodity.

On the surface, trick or treating is just one of those truly awesome, seemingly magical experiences of childhood. As the trick-or-treater, you are heaped with praise for your appearance and then fed the very junk that adults try to keep away from you the rest of the year. Perhaps we would be well served to refer to the words of a modern-day prophet:

What I also love about trick or treating is the sense of possibility that it generates. I distinctly remember running across lawns as a child, making my way to the next welcoming door and having an epiphany. Endorphins no doubt kicking into overdrive, I peered through the sweaty eye holes of my rubber mask and saw a horde of monsters and athletes and ninjas and pirates running about the street. Of the few childhood remembrances I can still arouse, this is the earliest involving a perceiving of surreality. At this moment it hit me that the way things appear and the way they are and the way they can be don’t always line up.

Another element of trick or treating that makes it a prime candidate for OCTOBERFEAST acceptance is its subversion. For one evening a year, the children are given free reign to make demands of the tribal elders. Kids walk right up to doors and declare Trick or treat! – which is actually code for Give us some goodies or we are going to fugg your shit up! Again, this is the one night a year where parents turn a blind eye to their children loading backpacks full of shaving cream, toilet paper, and other tools of vandalism.

The best summary of this concept I’ve ever come across is found in Palahniuk’s Rant:

Arguably, the best example of a liminal space is the secular ritual of Halloween, as currently practiced in the United States. On that particular evening, the power hierarchy is inverted, permitting children to demand tribute of adults. Said children don masks to mimic symbols of power. These include ghosts and skeletons, agents of the dead; witches, who ruin fertility; savage animals such as wolves and lions; or cultural outsiders such as cowboys, hobos, and pirates. Masquerading thusly, the children threaten to inflict property damage as punishment for adults who fail to reward them. (290)

Yeah. What he said.

Maybe it’s a social release valve in which the disenfranchised are allowed to receive catharsis. Or maybe it’s just a fun night of goofy costumes and free swag. But there’s no denying that trick or treating is an integral part of the OCTOBERFEAST.

Go get your wares ready. The ghouls, ghosts, monsters and maniacs are headed your way! And you don’t want to end up like poor Hollis…