Celebrating the holiday that changes yearly


Halloween is a bit of an odd holiday, right?

I mean, for starters, it’s not like you get a day off work or school for it. Basic Darin Rule #1: If you have to go to work, it is not a holiday.

It also takes on different meanings for different ages. As a kid, I remember the excitement of going to the drug store to pick out the little cardboard box that contained my costume. Do you remember those things, fellow older people? The box came with basically a plastic dress that you slipped over your clothes, and a mask that seemed to contain a heating element that made sweat drip from your chin and caused you to breathe so hard you sounded like you were making an obscene phone call every time you said, “Trick or Treat” with a begging bag extended toward your prey.

And, yes, the costumes were exciting, and it was fun to run into your friends while you were roaming the streets at night, but make no mistake about it: We were in it for the candy. There was a scouting report put together by the end of the night by me and my fellow costumed beggars, and we knew which houses were giving away primo treats, and which houses were giving away toothbrushes or granola bars.

Toothbrushes. Might as well have been giving away liver or poison ivy. Darin Rule #2: If for some reason your family desires the new color of your home to be egg, give away toothbrushes for Halloween. I had toothbrushes at home, and I didn’t necessarily care for them. What I didn’t have was a 7-foot Snickers bar stuffed with candy corn and...

But I digress.

Halloween changed for me as I got a little older. Perhaps the “trick” part of the equation gained a little more power over the “treat” element for a few years, but then that got old, too, and I went into a phase for a few years of general apathy. I was too old to beg for candy, and too bored of watching the same toothbrush-giving guy stomp on flaming bags of fun on his doorstep every year. I usually just stayed home on Halloween and watched scary movies until my little sister got back from trick-or-treating so I could steal some of her candy.

Have I mentioned lately that I really was a delightful teenager?

The holiday picked up steam for me again my first year in college. There were great parties, interesting punch drinks that convinced me I was funnier and tougher than I was, and girls wearing adult costumes that most certainly did not come from a cardboard box in the drug store. Those were indeed the days.

Of course, as we get older, our tastes change. Oh, I am still a big fan of the revealing costume. I’m older, not deader. But I eventually got to a place where Halloween became a day I looked forward to because it meant all the little kids would be coming by in their costumes to get candy from me. I got a kick out of watching a parent encourage a nervous son or daughter to make the trek to my door, and would love watching those nerves go away with a quick compliment on a costume and a handful of candy bars.

Yes, it’s corny. But there’s just something about giving a kid a smile that can brighten even the darkest of days.

And, here we are again. Another Halloween is upon us, and candy and liquor sales will again go through the roof. There are sure to be children dressed as Minions and Star Wars characters and princesses and cowboys, and adults dressed as Kylie Jenner, Minions, Star Wars characters and naughty little kittens...

But I digress. Again.

Admittedly, I am not the most hip cat in the world. The fact that I said “hip cat” probably gave it away for starters. But the reality is I am now a middle-aged guy that works 60 hours a week and comes home to a 1-year-old baby before falling asleep at 9 p.m. I’m not exactly the standard for knowing what’s popular and what isn’t these days, outside “Daniel Tiger.”

Curious as to what the hot costumes are this year, I strapped on my seat belt and took a little cruise on the old Information Superhighway until I found a piece on that very subject by Benjamin Leatherman of the Phoneix New Times.

Leatherman, obviously much more of a hip cat than myself, shared the 10 hottest Halloween costume trends of the year, and a few stood out to me.

For starters, he highlights the lead character from the Netflix comedy, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” For those of you unaware of the show, it is a campy comedy focused on a young lady who was kidnapped and kept in a bunker for 15 years with several other girls by a deranged preacher. When she is finally rescued, she takes an over-the-top optimistic approach to life, moves to New York City and tries to attack life with a smile and determination. I actually love this show, so this one made me smile.

Leatherman also talks about “Taylor Swift’s Girl Gang,” which is either the singer’s posse or a website that you’d probably want to delete off your browser history at work. This is one of those examples of me not being very savvy of what’s popular these days.

Also making Leatherman’s list is the infamous New York City pizza rat that gained popularity through a viral video as the rodent dragged a slice of pizza into the subway. I knew about this one because it was on the front of every news site in the world when it hit, making me question the entire term, “news site.”

Donald Trump is also a popular costume this year, meaning people are either praising the Republican candidate for president, or mocking him. Perhaps revelers could use the pizza rat as a hair piece and be really hip.

Basic Darin Rule #3: It is not hip to say “hip.” Sorry.