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Halloween in a Halloween-less Land

By On Oct 31 2012, 9:00 am

There’s a chill in the air shaking leaves from the trees. It’s Ray Bradbury season, didn’t you know? There are pumpkins with carved faces, some beautiful though often grotesque, peppering the streets of your town—

Well, not my street. Not in my town.

When Halloween approaches in my little neighborhood, I glance around and watch folks loading their cars with just-in-case beach towels. ’Round about this time of the year, people start to smell of the acidic tang of mixed sweat and sunscreen. And sadly, there are no carved pumpkins in sight of my doorstep…

Instead, there are eager-beaver Christmas decorations starting to go up in storefront windows; there are fire warnings being erected on every corner (on a side-note, I always wondered whose job it was to run out to those signs and push the little red warning arrow from HIGH to EXTREME and then back again, once the temperature drops). Trust me, during Australian October, not even Michael Myers himself would brave wearing black from head-to-toe outside. It’s just too hot. Dry and merciless. For fair-skinned, auburn haired guys like myself, it’s the nightmare scenario, day-in-day-out.

Not that there are many Michael Myers’ running about, mind you. Here on my home turf, Halloween isn’t even celebrated.

Yep, hit a horror-guy where it hurts, why dontchya?

Sure, there are the occasional themed parties, but the season moves with a half-hearted lethargy, dismissed by so many as an Americanized waste-of-time. And that’s sad.

Every October thirty-first that you spent trick-or-treating was an evening I spent indoors. Whilst you were sorting through your loot of candy (“we don’t say candy in Australia, Aaron, they are called lollies,” I remember being told, and on more than one occasion), I was walking the streets of my hometown in regional New South Wales looking for something to do.

Anything.

As far as I was concerned, I lived on the most boring street in the world. Even its name, ‘Railway Street,’ seemed predestined to de-stimulate. It was a dusty stretch of road next to the train tracks, which were so close to our home that the cutlery would rattle when the coal freights lurched by. And how does the most boring of streets somehow descend further into lackluster monotony?

Stab the witch right through her heart and watch her beloved season die with her.

The only broomsticks to be found on Railway Street were those used to sweep up the dust, to shoo screeching cats having gutter-sex, and to beat away those annoying wasps that flew into your house.

To me, Halloween was this out of reach Nirvana—an event where kids like me fell into step with the rest of the world, even if just for a single night. It was longed for and aspired to, yet never reached. Not when it counted. And compounding this were all the films and books that I had seen and read, immortalizing the season. I had watched Hocus Pocus (1993) so many times there were holes in the tape; my full-screen, VHS copy of John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) could be recited at a whim; and I owned enough R.L. Stine books to pretty much know every conceivable Samhain-inspired scenario possible…

Well, I guess you can only shake up the same can of Coke so many times before something cracks and all the good stuff comes shooting out, right?

… “Where the hell do you get your ideas?” is something I’m often asked. But to me, the more interesting question is not “where”, but “why?”

I think growing up in a country where, yes, even Michael Myers had met his match, had an important part to play in the development of my imagination. It was the rose that led to the thorns.

I think I’m making up for lost time.

And man, I’m having an absolute ball letting the monsters out of their cages. But be warned. Their claws are mighty sharp, indeed.

The Fallen Boys – Official book trailer

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