Halloween can be…well, a little scary. “That’s the point!”, you shout, and you’re not too terribly wrong. Movies dripping with violence, terribly graphic decorations, and haunted houses where the guy in the ripped flannel with a chainsaw swears that he’s within his rights to grab you and pull you back when you run screaming are all synonymous with All Hallow’s Eve. There’s a campy side to the fall festivities, of course, but it’s the deeply demented displays that seem to dominate the discourse after you’ve stopped trick-or-treating. …but what if you’re a wein*ahem*…sensitive adult?
The more…scare averse members of our population have come to dread Halloween and all that comes with it. The first chill in the air ushers in another month of being the butt of jokes, of get-togethers focused on movies that will haunt them until Christmas, of group excursions to that FUCKING haunted house where they just KNOW that asshole Dave is going to grab them by the collar and scream into their face just to watch them pee their pants in front of their new girlfriend. They can’t prove that’s why she bro*ahem*.
I am here today to tell those sensitive souls that are alternatives to nightmare fuel and trick-or-treating with your ungrateful nephews. I’m here to outline five ways you can spend October 31st in a state of comfort.
I have to start by pushing Over the Garden Wall, it’s one of my favorite animated series of all time. Don’t let “animated series” scare you off, though! Over the Garden Wall is only ten episodes long, and each episode clocks in at around eleven minutes, making it shorter than many of its scarier contemporaries. The story focuses on two lost boys trying to find their way back home, and I really don’t want to give any more details away. The world is wonderful, mysterious, and is covered in gorgeous fall foliage from beginning to end. The sensitive adult has little to fear from Over the Garden Wall, and the delightful setting makes it the perfect thing to suggest watching with friends. Over the Garden Wall is available on Hulu and HBO Max. Just…just watch it, even if you aren’t sensitive (DAVE).
Hocus Pocus is a Halloween institution, a tradition in more than a few households, that makes it a perfect potential escape route for the sensitive ADULT. I emphasize adult, because for this plan, you’re going to need a lot of alcohol. You see, Hocus Pocus has a frankly bizarre obsession with the protagonist (who is a MINOR) being a virgin. It’s a plot point, sure, only a virgin could bring the Sanderson sisters back from the grave by lighting the Black Flame Candle, but the film goes out of its way to mention it several times. The sensitive adult should propose a drinking game, wherein every time the film points out or laughs at the fact Max Dennison is a virgin, everyone drinks (and the sensitive adult takes extra big swigs). You won’t make it through the entire film! For extra security, include drinking every time Sara Jessica Parker’s character gets horny. Either way, when you finally come to (likely with a nasty hangover), Halloween will be little more than a memory!
But perhaps you’re so sensitive that the very notion of watching anything even remotely Halloween related makes you feel a bit ill. You want to escape altogether: no parties, no trick-or-treating (or trick-or-treaters). No skeletons, no jack-o-lanterns, no nothing. That’s going to be a bit more difficult, but I’ve got you covered.
For the sensitive adult, Halloween may be the imminent threat, but they know the next holiday can be even worse. Imagine the dry turkey prepared by your grandmother that hasn’t prepared more than one meal a year since the late 80s. Your relatives are going to have questions about your job, why you haven’t finished your degree, and why your relationships aren’t working out. Dallas Cowboys football. And what Thanksgiving is complete without racist Uncle Roy talking about absolutely anything in the most offensive, least respectful way possible. It’s going to take a doozy of an excuse to get out of the worst dinner of the year, why not get a head start? Turn off your phone, lock the door, and light a candle as you begin the arcane art of avoiding your extended family. Take your time, build something truly ironclad. Perhaps it’s time to study abroad? Maybe your flight or car should experience a series of well-researched and fully-plausible setbacks? Do whatever it takes, make Turkey Day (and by extension, Halloween Night) your day to eat pizza alone in the dark.
But planning a lie doesn’t really do anything to make you feel good, does it? No, that’s just a potential source of anxiety headed your way, and you’re sensitive enough! …so why not skip Thanksgiving, too? Jump headfirst into the most wonderful time of the year! Fuck this whole unpleasant mess! Close those curtains, kill that porch light, and crank Mariah Carey as loud as she’ll go. Your neighbors will make smug remarks, it’s true, but that won’t bother you. After all, you’re filled with holiday spirit, you have to forgive them! …you certainly don’t want to be haunted by three ghosts that will show you every traumatizing moment of your past in terrible detail! Or worse, you don’t want to be shown that a world in which you don’t exist may actually be some kind of utopia.
Hmm? What’s that? I’ve gone too far? I see, you’ve got family and friends that just insist you come out and make merry on Halloween. No amount of excuses will sway them. They insist you’ll feel better once you come out and start having fun. “The movies aren’t that scary.” “My kids love you, and want you to come with us!” People SO understanding and supportive they won’t allow you to withdraw back into your comfort zone.
…well, I do have one more solution. An idea I was hoping I wouldn’t have to discuss. The nuclear option. Use this in only the most dire of circumstances, and may god have mercy on your soul.
This is it. The ultimate “Get out of a social situation” card. The invitations come in: “Come watch scary movies with us! We’ll pause if we need to so you don’t freak out!”, “Come trick-or-treating with my five poorly behaved children! They love you (and I need help)!”. They’re going to pull at your heartstrings, try to guilt you into getting scared. But now you know the one reply that’s not only going to get you out of the situation, but get you out of at least a week’s worth of other gatherings. “Sorry, I’ve got a nasty case of hot chocolate thunder!” Get visceral. Describe the appearance (brown snakes in butt sauce), the smell (it smells like a family of five is rotting in my bathroom), the sounds (spilling a can of peas into a vat of pudding). The more details you give, the longer they’re going to avoid talking to you in the future. The best part? Diarrhea can get you out of damn near anything, not just Halloween! Work, weddings, funerals, christenings, circumcisions, there’s no gathering a case of the green apple splatters won’t solve!
There you have it, five ways for the sensitive adult to distract, deflect, and avoid the horrors of the Halloween season. I hope one or more of these plans can help you as you carefully navigate your way to November and the holiday season.