Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 29, 2012

Garret Leiva: The trick is to find the treat in a scary world

By Garret Leiva

---- — Here's a frightening thought: another week of endless election commercials.

The world is a scary place that can't be passed off as rubber mask make-believe. I say it's time to break out the Halloween treats.

We could use both Good & Plenty in these uncertain times — even if it's only licorice-flavored candy.

While the world economy is still stuck in the toilet, that won't stop the toilet papering of homes on Devil's Night.

The little miscreants will just downsize to more economical one-ply rolls.

Halloween, however, pulls in monstrous profits.

The holiday that celebrates all things spooky has become the nation's second-largest holiday, with more than $8 billion in sales.

According to the National Retail Foundation, Americans are expected to spend $2.87 billion on Halloween costumes this year.

Even creepier: $370 million will be blown on pet costumes.

I'm no zombie accountant, but those numbers don't sound like financial bloodletting.

For most people, Hallo-ween isn't about bottom-line profits.

We're more concerned about the long line for the haunted hayride. At its candy-apple core, Halloween is about embracing your inner child — or fake blood demons.

Some trace Halloween back to Celts who set bonfires and left out food to appease evil spirits.

Trick-or-treating supposedly started in England with the practice of souling. Children went door to door begging for "soul cakes" in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls' Day.

You can share that last nugget when your trick-or-treater complains about too many Dum Dums suckers in his Halloween haul.

Sadly, even ghoul things must come to an end.

This is our daughter's final elementary school Halloween. It seems like just yesterday she was a gossamer-winged fairy in first grade.

Middle-schoolers can still trick-or-treat.

When the teenage years hit, however, fun-size Almond Joy bars lose their euphoria. College kids pursue Halloween bars with a different treat — it's called a hangover.

As a kid, the biggest Halloween fright was my own imagination.

While some people fear the dark, I had a bad case of gymphobia: fear of dim-lit gymnasium.

I refused to set foot — or Superman boots — inside the spook house constructed in the school gym.

After all, the moans and groans sounded eerily like my attempts at overhand chin-ups.

Deep down I knew the whole thing was as fake as school cafeteria mashed potatoes.

However, I was like a hairneted lunch lady's poultry recipe — plain chicken.

I must admit that the world can be a frightening place; election scare tactics aside.

Hopefully I can still hold hands with a certain 10-year-old Cleopatra as we head out into the trick-or-treat darkness, guided by flashlight and processed-sugar adrenaline.