My birthday has lost much of its sparkle – I guess growing older and often a tad frustrated with life will do that to you. I try not to be all shades of blue, but – on many birthdays – I find that this is the color that paints my world; creeping up on me much like that new gray hair, and unwelcome wrinkle or two brought on with the addition of a new year.
Now birthdays of OTHERS, I happen to love. I may be a holiday humbugger, but I am not heartless. I sometimes pretend to be, but the truth is oh-so-far from it.
Christmas? Gone with the Grinch who stole it. That I blame on the absurd spirit of commercialism that has long usurped the holiday from the spirit of Christ. Case in point, Christmas carols play on loop in malls across the Philippines – the country in which I live – as soon as the “-ber” months roll around. It is like holiday clockwork: September 1 on the calendar means non-stop top-40’s infused carols in the malls. Think: “Hark, the herald angels sing…Glooo-ooooo-ooooo-ooooo-Opa Gangnam style.”
One of the only remaining holidays that I seem to enjoy is Halloween. Although it generally lurks in the glittery, holly-decked shadow of Christmas, its black and orange ghoulish soul takes center-stage in my life. My heart beats Halloween; all year ‘round.
You see, I have always been of the Halloween persuasion. I am among those who have been labeled many things: Goth, dark, tragic poet, the more recent and oh-so-cringe-worthy “emo”, and just downright strange.
Vincent and strange lullabies
It all started many moons ago. Why, I can trace it back to the day I was born: Tropical Storm signal number 3 lambasted the metro, as I popped out into this world. The name of the storm has since been forgotten, but I was told it was a real howler. Just like me. Fitting, I suppose.
I grew up fascinated with what most my friends thought gross or scary: Bugs, spiders, lizard, bats; you know the kind.
Late nights would see me quietly sneaking out of bed to catch Vincent Price’s show. His deep baritone voice would send delicious shivers up and down my spine, as I would listen to tales of vampires and things that went bump in the night. Then – happy, but too scared to sleep in my own room – I would quietly creep into my parent’s room, and sleep beside my Dad.
The Worm Song and the Fly Song were always my favorite lullabies. Truth be told, I had many faves: Mr. Sandman; Hush, Little Baby, Somewhere Over the Rainbow were up on the list, too. But none of these fascinated me more than the thought of going to the garden to eat some worms, and old ladies swallowing flies. I surmised that there were others like me, else these children’s songs would not have been written.
Others like me
Eventually, as I grew through the teen years and matured into young adulthood, I realized that there were, in fact, others like me.
Those who shared my penchant for a predominantly black palette of clothing. Slimming, elegant, and no-fuss with multiple loads to wash. Ironically, most of those same people shared my penchant for cats, as well. So we all enjoyed yet another commonality – we were official card-carrying lint brush freaks.
I found a slew of others who loved Lewis Carrol, Edgar Allan Poe, and thought Tim Burton a demi-god of sorts. Our sensibilities were honed by the likes of these, imprinting their twisted and dark art into our souls; for future use.
Skulls, skeletons, fangs, crosses: Among our well-loved icons, appearing on most everything we own.
Ink; made manifest on most of our skin by some strange force of tattooed nature.
Costumes are likewise a common interest, as are masks and disguises; Halloween or not. The anonymity, creativity, and the sheer genius of being able to walk in someone else’s shoes – or the semblance of it – are priceless.
Musical tastes range from Type-O Negative to Rob Zombie, the Cult to the Cure, Alice Cooper to Alice in Chains, Echo and the Bunnymen to Siouxsie and the Banshees. Names many have not heard, nor care to discover.
Up and down such avenues of self-expression, we traverse; more than a tad left-off-society’s Bell-Curve-dictated center.
We are those who keep life in balance. The Yin to your Yang: Complementary forces; without which, the other would simply cease to be.
Has this dark psyche turned me into a morose, brooding deadweight to society? Morose and brooding; sometimes. Deadweight; hardly.
On the contrary. It has enabled me to live at a more heightened level. My interest in the “morbid and macabre” – as you may perceive these to be – propels me ever onward toward life; reminding me to seize each day, because we won’t be around forever.
Perhaps this is what I like most about Halloween: We remember the dead, so that we remember to live. And to make every moment of life truly count for something.
For to me, nothing is more dark and tragic than a life gone to waste.
Which brings me back to where I started with this piece, and reminds me to maybe rid myself of the holiday humbuggery. Just maybe.