Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I'm Goin' Straight To Hell
The old Drivin' N Cryin' song from my college years is never more appropriate than this time of year, the time when ghosts, fairies, pirates, Gene Simmons, Spider Man, and Transformers arrive at your doorstep with the Adam Sandler commandment "Gimme some candy!" on the tips of their tongues. It is also the time of year when the costume industry absolutely insists that every woman in America wants to dress up as, to paraphrase the Mrs. and some of her friends, a whoooooooooore. So what do candy and ho's have to do with me and my destiny to shake hands and play poker with Mephistopholes when my number is up? Well, to believe the Halloween antimatter cottage industry that has developed over the last couple decades, everything.
When I was growing up, my then-church (First Baptist Church of Trenton, GA) threw a Halloween party every year. Don't worry, you haven't had too much S'Mores Schnapps. You read that correctly. A HALLOWEEN PARTY was given by a Southern Baptist church in the buckle (or maybe the fourth or fifth hole) of the Bible Belt every year in the 1970's and early 80's. It usually included loads of candy that made us behave like, well, (imagine this) kids, bobbing for apples, and (GASP!) a haunted house! I must say with all modesty that, having personally worked in many of those haunted houses, they were some of the best in Trenton year after year. They were also some of the most painful because instead of running away while screaming, those who go through Baptist haunted houses tend to leave you with shiners and loose teeth while screaming.
(Completely random thought: Can you scare the bejesus out of someone in a Baptist haunted house? Just wondering.)
I might have missed their conception, but I first remember hearing about alternatives to Halloween parties and to Halloween itself during my college years. One of the loudest and (at least for a while in the South) ubiquitous of these alternatives was the "Judgement House." In a nutshell, Judgement Housing was designed to scare the bejesus INTO someone by showing them, often times graphically, how'd they'd be whittling away their time with The Devil if they didn't come to know The Lord. I could make a comment about a loving God dressing up for Halloween and going "Boo", but I won't. Folks are free to believe what they want and to share those beliefs as they'd like. What gets me more than the Judgement House alternative to All Hallows Eve are the folks who sincerely believe that I will end up in the final scene of the Judgement House simply by taking my kids trick or treating.
Those folks will claim this isn't the case. "We only hold 'Fall Festivals' or 'Harvest Festivals' or 'Trunk or Treat' or 'Keep Your Kid Out of Hay-ell" events on Halloween to keep children safe." After all, for the last 70 years, there has been a long line of deranged adults who eat the corpses of children for a living. They spend 364 days a year preparing the poison to be injected into copious packages of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and other treats, which, when you think about it, may explain the flavor of Candy Corn. I am not trivializing bad neighborhoods or the rare occasion when something bad happens, but do we need 8,000 alternatives to one of the most fun nights of the year when all that needs to take place is for parents to (get ready for one of my few Einstein moments) stay with their kids and only go to decent 'hoods with lots of lighting? I know. Not all parents are decent parents, which makes the victims my kids since only a handful of homes in my neighborhood actually welcomed trick-or-treaters last year.
If the purveyors of Halloween alternatives really wanted to help, they would turn their own neighborhoods into a giant welcome mat for kids who just want to have fun and give themselves a three-day sugar coma. But they don't want to help Halloween, they want to kill it, and usually it's because of an e-mail they received from their mother-in-law; you know, the one that has obviously been forwarded to about 97,000 people. That e-mail says Halloween comes from ancient pagan rituals which included the worship of Satan, raising your pinky when drinking a cup of tea, turkey bacon, the burning of Lee Greenwood records, and worst of all, the cancelation of college football games! And of course, since everything we read on the internet is true.....and you're going to Hades, too if you don't forward this to 50 people!
So, I humbly ask for your prayers, as I obviously need them. Because even though there may be fewer places for them to collect their chocolate booty, I can't wait for this Saturday. My older kid will be dressed as a doctor, so she'll be ready to perform animal sacrifices, while my toddler, dressed as a pumpkin, will surely be screaming "Yoo hoo, Satan, I'm here to serve you! My pumpkiness is your pumpkinness, oh evil one." My guess is that, in the end, my personal religious beliefs won't be worse off.
Oh, the first time I heard the song "I'm Goin' Straight To Hell" was at a Drivin' N Cryin' concert at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, circa 1991; a show I attended with some friends.....from the school's Baptist Campus Ministries chapter, who screamed the lyric at least as loudly as I. Well, at least I will have some good company.