Halloween used to diverge from everyday life. Now it is everyday life.
Don't mistake the camouflage G.I. Joes roaming the airports for trick-or-treating kids. It's the National Guard, and they aren't toting plastic Super Soakers either. Those spacemen that handle the mail -- they're actually hazardous materials teams. The overgrown fruit flies on the subway? They're not commuters testing their costumes for the big day. The gas masks actually have a functional purpose. And it will not be a shock when Biological Warfare Man wins the award for "Most Realistic Costume" at elementary school parades next week.
Unseasonable scares, much too early for Halloween haunted houses, keep popping up across the country. Household commodities such as talcum powder, coffee creamer and sugar inspire terror nationwide. Not since simulated brains of spaghetti, eyeballs of peeled grapes and fabricated Jell-o guts have ordinary disposables been so frightening.
Premature tricking also went dangerously awry when prominent American journalists and politicians received unexpected anthrax envelopes. Caught off guard, no one was on the lookout for nasty tricks one whole month before the designated trick-or-treating night. And even on Halloween, only isolated psychos -- a rare string of lunatic that inserts razor blades and rat poison into Mars Bars -- distribute such horrors.
Spore-brewing witches weren't the only ones who jumped the Halloween gun; thousands of Americans responded to the sour apple tricksters by giving out treats. In a move that shamed the penny-distributing skinflints of Oct. 31, approximately 80,000 American schoolchildren sent $1 bills to the White House to aid the children of Afghanistan.
The little ones weren't alone in treat bestowing -- the government joined in the festivities as well. The Air Force is the type of house that gives raisins, peanuts and other healthy snacks, rich in carbohydrates and protein, rather than chocolate. Thus, calorie-deficient Afghani children didn't balk when C-17 bombers dropped pre-packaged snacks for Afghani refugees last week. Of course, these treats were much more warmly received than the bombings that preceded them. On the domestic front, the consumerism that President George Bush promoted is the best treat of all. Never before has shopping had such philanthropic perks.
The month of unexpected tricks and treats has made one thing clear; judicious mothers will refrain from passing out Pixie Stix on All Hallows Eve to avoid stoking mass suburban hysteria.
Costumes, tricks and treats, normally benchmarks of Halloween, are eerily conventional these days. More importantly, the terrorizing, goose-bump-inciting, hair-raising spirit of Halloween is also a realistic feeling.
Halloween is the night when ghosts rise from their graves. The ghosts ascended a month early this year -- the ghosts of terrorism past. The memories of the souls that died in the Sept. 11 attacks haunt our minds, reminding us that we are never too normal, too busy, too loved or too safe to become a victim of terrorism. These mental ghosts are doomed to linger in purgatory for an inconceivable amount of time, until the War on Terrorism assuages our paranoia. This war is not a short, succinct engagement, however. Only when terrorism ceases will our ghosts rest in peace.
Our mental ghosts should not scare us. Rather, they should encourage rational caution and compassion for the families and friends of the deceased. If we handle our ghosts with courage, we will prevail over the tormented ghouls that carry on Osama bin Laden's demonic quest. The ghouls will not wreak evil forever, mandating caution in everyday actions -- opening the mail, getting on the subway, even breathing the air. The devils are evident in everyday life, but should not control our actions.
Halloween is all too real this year. On Oct. 31, I'm going to revert to those halcyon days before the haunting terrorist attacks, back to the time when I didn't have to differentiate between those festive in costume and those fighting terrorism, when I could eat Halloween candy without mistaking the white powder from a cracked lollipop for anthrax, when I could skip door-to-door unencumbered by the prospect of terrorism. So I'm retreating to the innocent, to the days when my mother was the Troop 147 cookie coordinator. I'm going to be a Brownie Girl Scout. Because I don't think we need any more scares.
Archived article by Andrea Forker