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When I Was A Cowboy
written for on-line Halloween feature 2002
by Damion Michaels

I must be really old. This is the conclusion I have come to after seeing how sophisticated Halloween has become. In my day, a cowboy hat, brightly colored shirt, jeans and cowboy boots on Halloween night meant that you were "dressed to the nines" for the annual celebratory candy grab fest. Once more, the whole costume may have cost you just a few dollars.

Recently I went with my wife to shop for Halloween costumes for my five year old twins - a boy and a girl. I was amazed at the plethora of costumes and the unlimited imagination and detail that went into the costumes. The costume choices were from the mundane "Order of Fries" to the most realistic space hero complete with all of the gadgets and lights.

And the candy. In my day we had simple things like jaw breakers, bubble gum and Dum Dums. Today, the candies come in miniatures with Halloween themed wrappers. Miniature Snickers®, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups®, Nerds®, M&M's®, Mini M&M's® even. You name it and there is now a miniature version of it. It's like - you are Alice in Wonderland and everything is small.

The most important thing I remember about Halloween as a kid was the weird things that people gave you in lieu of candy on Halloween night. I remember getting batteries, pennies, apples and yes, band aids. There was even the dentist who gave out toothbrushes and miniature tubes of toothpaste. (I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!) You know who I am talking about. In your years of "Trick or Treating", I know you've visited that dentist's house.

Then comes the moment that you realize that you've grown embarassingly too old for Halloween. This moment came to me one Halloween night, when I was in college in New Jersey and was without costume. Improvisation, inspired by cocktail hour, convinced me that cutting holes in my laundry bag - while still full of clothes - and wearing it around my waste was an absolutely brilliant idea. I was dirty laundry.

Nothing like the critique of a few fellow Jersey party goers to bring home the realism of, "Man this was bad idea."

Now I have come to realize that Halloween should be enjoyed through the children and the joy it brings to them. I watch the excitement of my children as they try on costumes and chatter about the candy, candy, and more candy.

So this Halloween night I will accompany Robin (of Batman and Robin) and a little Princess to see how many Halloween themed miniature candies we can acquire in a couple hours. I will hear Robin and the Princess "ooh", "ahh" and shriek over the scary decorations at each house.

And then we will come home, sort out the confectionous loot and let the children bargain for their favorites. When they weave from fatigue and a glucose induced intoxication, we will take that little tube of toothpaste, brush their teeth and put them to bed.

I, as a parent, will then take the pennies and put them into their piggy banks. And as I put away the batteries, I smile because I am saved one trip to the store and justify in my mind the practicality of Halloween.

Indeed, I am getting old.

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