Thursday, October 25, 2007

'Tis the Season...

This time every year, magic happens.

Naw, that's cornball. I've found that this is a time of much -- what's the term? Regret? Remorse? Nostalgia? The Portuguese have a word for it (which is odd because the Portuguese have so few words): saudade. This time last year, I was Lymed. Hospitals tend to remind one of mortality -- theirs -- but mostly it just interrupted my enjoyment of the season.
My first Hallowe'en memory is of dressing like a ghost. Not because of poor imagination or poor circumstances. Because I couldn't wear my cool store-bought costume because it wouldn't fit over my snowsuit. Y'see, it had snowed the day before and the cold blast hadn't subsided. I didn't mind. I was five. I don't even remember what the original costume was. I was just glad for the snowsuit, because I got to stay out later knocking on doors and hollering "TRICK!ORTREEET!" I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes two years later. I do not believe the two events are related.
Best suit ever (not counting the time I was a drunk Percy Bysshe Shelley complaining about "the wife"): dad's clothes over my peewee hockey gear and a Frankenstein's monster mask. Indestructible. Mask was teh cool until it disintegrated a few years later.
My mom's birthday is a few days before Hallowe'en. That made it all even more festive, and turned Hallowe'en into a multi-day celebration. Like Chanukkah. Challowe'en. As Catholics, it brought us closer, as a family. to our Jewish friends. Except for the fact that we weren't particularly religious and I ended up spending years at Catholic schools studying philosophy and Latin and theology trying to figure that all out. Before the inevitable "vocations talk" happened, I turned to literature, broadcasting, theater, and graduated with a degree in English, the Other Dead Language.
This is about spirit. I don't mean phony-black-mass-goat-sacrifice-goofy-goth-googoo occult religious. Never mind the spooky geegaws. This is a seasonal change that affects us today the same way it affected our European forbears. (Well, mine.) It's the end of the year, the first frost, the time the leaves are most colorful and soon gone, the harvest is nearly over, the days are shorter, the nights are colder, the anticipation of further change is upon us and we are energized for the next season by that sense of expectation.
Joseph Campbell, W.B. Yeats, and Vincent Price. I mean team spirit. Because this is a time of year that physically binds us all to each other and to nature and to the past -- what we modern smartypantses call superstition. How can you deny that it's bred in our bones to be filled, at this time of year, with a restlessness of future, of possibility, of dread, of augury? Which supplies an arcane ambiance to any speculations concerning the season. It's all perfectly reasonable, this so-called "magic." Religions scoff at the old idea of natural cycles and crop rule. That's why they make things like Lent and Ramadan. As we left the farms for the mills, the natural magic got perverse and about the uncommon and imaginary, not the real and common. In fact, churches just claim "the devil's behind it" and put rubber movie masks over the masks they wear all the rest of the year.
This time of year is also Fantasy Fest in Key West. I enjoy that.For obvious reasons. That and I actually marched in the parade one year.
One year on the Big Blue Boat, the crew devised a zany ghost-pirate-themed haunted ship. The idiot who wrongly and unethically claimed he was in charge of the ship's operation seriously wanted us to do the crew-exhausting (but money-making) event throughout the month of November. No, pal. Hallowe'en ends on Hallowe'en. And I'm not doing this every night after giving tours or running the deck on a charter sail all day:
When I was off that ship a while and trying to understand The Beach, I signed with a guy who wanted to have a "haunted something" in Fall River. Because it would be between New Bedford and Providence. That was the first sputtering but successful trial of the now world-renowned Factory of Terror. Every night through that month of October I supervised (or managed or whatever) and haunted right along with a crew of eager and wildly varied talents. The next year, I was doing dinner theater or managing some call center, so I couldn't help. The Factory is still there. Its success says a lot about Fall River.
Downside to that? Another guy decided to start his own "haunted something" and there was some talk of some sort of legal dispute or other. I didn't have the details then, and don't have the details now, but I told the lawyers I really was "in the dark" and everyone involved had always been very nice and cordial to me. The Asylum of Horror is still ... asyling, I guess.
Dressing up and being scary is always in vogue. Particularly among those who think dressing up is scary anyway. Sometimes locals pick up the spook and run with it. There's a Haunted Train. (Whose strange schedule hasn't been well-publicized because they're 'old school' and don't want to call any attention to themselves.) There are always Haunted Cemetery Tours. And year-round, there's Medieval Times or Medieval Manor, or Ren Faires or Waterfront Festivals with pirates, and historical interpretation. Which are all customarily scary.
About now, the local papers usually post another sure sign of the season. One thing that really puts the cap on the Hallowe'en Season for me:

Audition notices for A Christmas Carol.


Large said...

And a ships sailsmaker borne on "All Souls Day"

so much happens this time of year


ThirdMate said...

Or "Bourne sold sails and ships all day," wasn't it?

(That's what you get for beating me to it. Plus, I thought it was later. Don't correct me if it is.)

Large said...

"God Bless us all,...every one.."

I'll go back to whittling my crutch