Story by: Lisa Gordon

When I turned to my best friend and asked, why do I hate Halloween? His response was, where do I begin? It’s something about dressing up? he said. Something about large groups of dressed up people? Something about large groups of dressed up people who are drunk. Large groups of dressed up people in slutty clothes who are drunk.

I guess that’s hitting the nail pretty much on the head. It’s true—‘going out’ on Halloween makes me cringe. The pressure of having to put together a costume—and have it be so awesome!!!!—is only the beginning. I guess part of that stems from my poor ability to plan ahead. But when my friends begin talking about their Halloween costumes as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the first day of October, I begin to shut down. Once a friend of mine decided to be Tinkerbell for Halloween—in August. “That’s how much time I need to plan my costume,” she said. She bought a silk camisole. Green dye. A bucket to dye the camisole in. A green wig. Fake eyelashes. Fake wings. It cost her $143. She sat in our hallway stirring the green dye concoction with a wooden spoon for days. (To be honest, though, she looked great.)

Me? I drove to a store called iParty on Halloween night. It was 6:35 p.m. I thought I’d run in and grab a wig and call it a day. Well, so did lots of other people. I waited in line for about an hour and a half. (Turns out I got a boyfriend out of the whole ordeal, but that’s a story for another day.) That wig was itchy as $#@!. I wore it for the first 5 minutes of the house party my friends dragged me to and then took it off, and then people kept asking me who I was dressed as. “Me,” I kept saying, to looks of horror.

Another Halloween, I got into a cab that wasn’t, actually, a cab. It was painted to look like a cab. I hailed it on the street in the dark (no Uber back then, folks. A whole 5 years ago!) and was pleasantly surprised at how polite the driver was. What did I want to listen to, he wanted to know? How was my night? Only a few moments in did I realize that there was no meter—just an elaborate speaker system; his own personal car preferences. I thought it was my own fault, having dressed in your stereotypical girls’ Halloween fare (read: suggestive). I had him drop me off many blocks from my apartment and walked home slowly, feeling creeped out and nervous and repulsed and kicking myself for having gone out on Halloween in the first place.

No, this isn’t going to be a piece about why girls dress provocatively for Halloween. I don’t have enough time for that. But I do know there are lots of ladies out there who are just as over Halloween as I am. So…what’s the deal? Is it the drunk shenanigans? Is it the messy parties? Is it the excuse to be someone else for a night, whether it’s Snow White or Michael Jackson or Hillary Clinton or just your average sexy flight attendant? I wonder if it’s the put-upon fakeness of all of it. The ‘we’re going to have a great time tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ attitude that just feels like a set-up for disappointment.

One year a good friend and co-Halloween-hater and I dressed up as Angela Chase (me) and Ray Ann (her) from My So Called Life. (If you don’t know it, it’s where Jared Leto started out at a heartthrob, and believe me when I say it’s worth watching.) That was one costume, or, should I say, character, that I enjoyed personifying; with my red-haired bob, 90s grunge look, and angsty thoughts, I was in the perfect position to go to a party where I knew I’d see a boy I recently had stopped kissing. But the party was lackluster, which is to say, mixed with people pretending to have a great time and perhaps actually having one, and I didn’t belong. I sat on the front steps for a while and then left, and when he texted me later, asking where I’d gone, I knew it was only to be nice, and sometimes, you need more than that. Especially when you’re Angela Chase.

I appreciate a good costume just as much as the next person. But I only want to wear one if it doesn’t cost me a lot of money and is generally comfortable to wear and will actually allow me to sit down and/or breathe through my nose and/or walk. My favorite part of Halloween night—if I have to go out at all—is the end, when everyone’s walking around with their heels in their hands and their masks shoved up on the top of their heads, their makeup smeared. It’s the time when everyone has come back to life. They’ve had their fun, or they’ve had a terrible time—either way, they get to be themselves again.

If only Halloween could be like we’re kids again, when there’s still an actual innocence to it all; when you believe in your heart of hearts that you can be an astronaut, even if it’s only for a few hours, and you can come home and eat candy with a flashlight under your covers, and your best friend is in a sleeping bag next to you, and in the morning, nothing’s scary.

I can’t really explain why I hate Halloween. I don’t really hate it. I’d just rather not deal with it, and instead stay home wearing whatever I want, being whoever I want, if only for that one night.

For more stories by Lisa, visit her site here!