So I had this strange memory creep up on me. It was one of those moments that at the time left me feeling numb and sort of betrayed...but that I know see as a crucial step in my shuffling off the lies of childhood and stumbling towards the lies of adolescence.
Back when I lived in Twin Falls Idaho...this would be around 1987ish. There was a longs drug store a good ten minute bike ride away from my house. They had the best deals on GI Joes. So I went there a lot and wasted my lawn mowing money on "action dolls" as my friend Patrick calls them.
Well anyway I went there a lot. And this longs always went all out decorating for the holidays. It seems like stores in Idaho are a lot more into "the holidays" you know huge paper mache fireworks in July...Big animatronic fields of bunny rabbits in April...the works.
Well during Halloween the place was an absolute terror. I led a somewhat guarded youth. Both my parents only watched movies of the Police Academy / Space Balls variety. We NEVER watched horror movies cause my mom was a to sensitive and my dad thought they were to fake. I didn't even see a Friday the 13th until COLLEGE. and when I did I was REALLY disappointed. After all I had heard through my childhood of how frighteningly mind-meltingly horrific they were I was a might disappointed to finally see that they were really pretty boring and predictable...and that since I hadn't been scared of them as a child like my friends I had no "nostalgic" frame of reference to go "wow I remember how scary this shit was back when I was a kid".
Anywhoo, I was a real chicken shit...cause I didn't really have a lot of exposure to "monsters". And around Halloween I wouldn't even go in there. There was this Massive, hulking abomination that greeted customers over the candy aisle. Like a green ogre covered with open wounds and armed with bloody cudgels. his eyes glowed red and his snarling jowls were obscured by his head full of matted gray fright wig hair. The thing was awful.
Well one such Halloween during the period of time when my Parents were getting a divorce and we were doing a lot of weird back and forth between my parents I was sent with my dad's new girlfriend Cheryl to go gee more candy for trick or theaters. We went to the longs drugs. It was somewhat late to be getting more candy...like around 8:30 or 9pm...but back then kids used to trick or treat all night ...different times. Anyway I didn't even want to go in but Cheryl sort of teased me about being a scared little kid so I tagged along.
This is the moment. This is when I learned about the lies corporate America tells you to make you buy candy in an orange bag in October and the same candy in a red and green bag in December...
Anyone who works at Starbucks (or I'm sure any sort of retail outlet) has probably had to sit through some customer bitching about "Christmas music already...it's not even thanksgiving yet." And when you're working in some department store for 6 bucks an hour you think, "Yeah you fat cow...the early Christmas comes the faster we can make more money of you."
This was the first time that I ever had that thought. That "Why the hell are they getting ready for Christmas when it's STILL HALLOWEEN." thought.
I guess they didn't want to wait until the store closed that Halloween, they really wanted to get a two month jump on all that Holliday drug store shopping that goes on. All around it was chaos...the Halloween candy had been dumped in a huge unsorted "discount" bin by the front door and the decorations were being torn down and replaced with Rudolph, Frosty and all their buddies.
And then I saw it. There was a guy on a ladder. Peeling away the layers of gore and ooze from the horrible Ogre over the candy aisle...guess who was underneath...
That's right kids. Santa had been hiding under a horrific Ogre suit for a month. I mean they didn't take the clothes of a fat mannequin. Santa was fully dressed UNDERNEATH the Ogre...full red suit beard the works...all under this Ogre's robes..
I mean Santa was the ogre. The horrors of Halloween were INTERCHANGEABLE with the WONDERS of Christmas...it was just a matter of wardrobe change. And the weight of that thought hit me like a ton of bricks...I stood stunned and watched the guy changing Santa's outfit.
I felt so lied to...it cheapened both Halloween (my favorite holiday even as a boy) and Christmas (which I liked for the presents like all heathen children of the goat god).
Maybe a scene like this inspired Tim Burton to make a nightmare before Christmas...who knows.
All I know is that that night in Longs drugs, still wearing my extremely lame "Ghostbusters" back pack that I had fashioned out of a huge bottled water jug, a small piece of my childhood died forever.