It’s always One Thing or Another … a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all.
By Mark McNease
It’s that time of year again when all the world celebrates a birth like no other … mine! What’s that saying? ‘58 is the new 55.’ I’m reprinting this birthday/Halloween column as somewhat of a tradition. Plus it gives me another week to think of a new one …
October has always been my favorite month. It’s the month when autumn really makes itself felt, especially if you live where the seasons are discernible. (It recently went from air conditioner weather at the tail end of a relentlessly hot summer, to a sudden and unexpected freeze with a 30-degree drop). It’s flu season, which is always good for a sick day or two spent lying on the couch taking over-the-counter cold remedies that do nothing to stop you from feeling like death is near. Honey, is the healthcare directive in place? You’re sure you’ve still got your copy? And, How about the will? Can I change it by tomorrow? My sister forgot my birthday, I’m not sure she deserves the belt buckles.
But the two things about October that have truly made it special since I first shook a tiny fist at the world and dared it to stop me, are that I was born near the end of the month, and my birthday is close enough to Halloween to say I’m one of those babies … the ghoul and goblin children who claim this most sacred of Holy Days as our own. We don’t have to share it with a saint, a savior or a deity. No one’s expected to behave especially well, so long as they don’t vandalize property or steal candy from children younger than three. And over the last few decades it’s become an adult holiday dedicated to the troubled child in all of us.
While Halloween was once a day for children to dress up in gender-conforming costumes and shuffle house to house extorting candy made of corn syrup and orange dye #12, it slowly became a day (or, more appropriately, a night) when adults could loosen our straightjackets of responsibility and become Frankenstein or Glenda the Good Witch or some politician in the news for passing out in an airport bathroom stall. To hell with the kids, we said. This is our time to party with impunity, contort and contest and act out, all with the explanation that it’s Halloween. You understand. It’s the best excuse outside Christmas for heavy drinking and bad behavior no one’s going to blame you for!
But more than Halloween itself, with its macabre festivity, I like being a Halloween baby because all these things converge in late October. It’s just before the holiday onslaught that now runs from November 1 through the birth of Jesus. It’s a welcome farewell to the heat, humidity and smells of an urban summer. It’s not quite late enough in the year to be depressed that another year’s flown by. Old Man Winter is still middle-aged and too busy coloring his hair to bother you with sub-zero temperatures. And, for us Halloween babies, it’s our birthday! Give or take a few days.
I’m happy to be a (almost) Halloween baby. Greetings to October, to Halloween, to my birthday, and to letting loose the kids in all of us too stubborn to grow out of it.
Mark McNease is the Editor of lgbtSr, a website “where age is embraced and life is celebrated.” He’s an author of mysteries and short stories as well as the co-editor and publisher of the anthology Outer Voices Inner Lives (Lambda Literary Award finalist). He’s also the co-host of The Twist Podcast, and the co-creator of the Emmy and Telly winning children’s program Into the Outdoors.