Halloween and I have an understanding. It gives me candy, and I don't call it a pagan abomination.
Halloween does not get the same respect, though, as other holidays, because it is not based on a single, iconic event, like breaking bread with a race of people whose land you want, or the birth of a deity.
But who needs respect when you've got multicolored marshmallow circus peanuts? Who needs clothes, even?
This year my kids, one of whom is a teenager, and the other of whom is so close to teenage he can smell its Axe-scented breath on his back, went to a haunted amusement park for the first time. You know these places. They build temporary scary mazes for you to walk through, and then teenagers in creepy masks jump out at you from dark corners.
This is a great job for a teenager, because it gives him the chance to scare pretty girls without actually asking them out.
The maze designers did an incredible job of plumbing the depths of human fear, because my kids refused to go near them. They just went to the park to be, to borrow a term from the real estate business, "fear-adjacent." They just wanted to wander around the "scare zones" outside the mazes and soak up the general malevolent ambiance.
I can relate. I once went to a political convention.
When I was a teenager, adults had not yet figured out how to entice money from teenagers in such a slick, professional way, unless you count Jordache Jeans.
Sure, there were "haunted houses" you could visit, but they were in suburban neighborhoods, and were mostly free. Anyone with an old hockey mask and a plastic steak knife could put up a strobe light in their garage and attract a crowd.
Well, nobody really showed up. I was kind of disappointed.
The best thing about going to these kinds of scare-parks with friends is the fright-induced bonding, and the stories which come out of this, to be told and embellished forever. This year's tale will undoubtedly entail the moment when my son, responding to some zombie who had growled in his face, yelled back, equally ferociously, "LEMONS!"
The zombie evidently muttered a startled obscenity and wandered away a little disappointed.
Ah, kids and Halloween. If only they could, like their candy bars, remain "fun-size" forever.