Friday, October 31, 2008

Skeletons

My wife and I love to walk together, especially when the south Florida weather begins to cool, and you no longer have to end up soaked with sweat a dozen steps from your front door. Last weekend the temperature dropped, so we took a turn around the neighborhood. All the yards were in full Halloween mode. As we passed a house where DayGlo purple and green skeletons hung from the bushes, a realization reached up and seized me by the throat: Almost everyone’s decorations were cutesy.

It’s no secret that Americans are obsessed with youth. Ads for Botox and Juvederm bump up against images of forty-year-old actresses who look like they’re twenty and male models so denuded of body hair they seem prepubescent. We can’t get enough of the promise of youth even as it daily seeps away. Halloween -- and its literary corollary, horror -- hold a promise of their own, namely that we might turn our eyes from the glossy page and the cathode ray and consider for a moment the end of all flesh. Is it any wonder, then, that we’re so quick to nullify it with whimsy?

This is nothing new. For years we have contented ourselves with cheap chocolate and prefab costumes on October 31. Yet I would hope that if we’re to hang skeletons, they might be something other than purple or green or pink or blue. Something not so far removed from reality. Something that reminds us of dust and dirt and that which comes after both of them. And if we’re to write stories about death, I would hope that we wouldn’t settle for gratuitous gore and the cheap scare. I would hope that we horror writers could soon move from candy to true meat.

(Picture: CC 2006 by
grytr)

2 comments:

Amy Wright said...

note to self...don't let the girls trick-or-treat at the Eatons'... :)

Loren Eaton said...

Be afraid. Be very afraid ...