This past Sunday, my roommate and I decided to head into Boston and do some good old-fashioned Halloween costume shopping. With Halloweekend approaching, we had minimal inspiration and an even smaller budget. Cue a three-hour episode of anxious pacing up and down the Party City aisles, signs of surrender, and eventually, an empty wallet. This whole debacle got me thinking about what Halloween has become in the context of college, and how things have changed as we've grown up.
The most obvious change since our younger years is our costume selection. Remember 4th grade, when you could happily be a pumpkin? I’m not talking a sexy pumpkin; I’m talking round, large and orange. Or what about the punny costumes? Put black makeup around your eyes, tape the letter P to your shirt and voilà: you were the black-eyed peas. We wanted to have the best costume so that the grown ups would shower us with candy.
In college, everyone wants to know how much skin you can show instead of how creative you can be. Unique costumes are still prized to some extent, but mostly so one can attract the opposite sex with originality. Costumes have gone from a means to get candy, to a means to snag another kind of treat by the end of the night.
As we’ve grown up, binging on Halloween has changed drastically. When we were 10, Halloween transformed every kid into a candy hoarder, binging on their stash for weeks. Now, at 20, Halloween transforms every college student into a binge drinker. If I’m going to consume calories, I would much rather be shoveling Reese's cups into my mouth than doing shots of Ruby. Candy is cheaper. Candy is a known cure for various ailments. The candy high is real. Candy hangovers are much more bearable. Trust me.
However, college culture demands students to be constantly inebriated to enjoy Halloween, so we’ve spent our savings on pink lemonade vodka instead of pink Starbursts. The thrill of counting your candy at the end of the night is replaced with the thrill of loud music and dark parties. The game has changed and so the players must adapt. Drunkest one wins.
As we’ve grown up and gained independence from our parents (and their credit cards), Halloween hits right where it hurts: the wallet. College kids are as broke as it gets, yet full Party City costumes are hardly ever reasonably priced. The real scare is that college Halloweekend is a minimum a three-day event. Three costumes equals three times the spending.
There is always the cost-effective option of using the meager supplies in your dorm room to develop your own creation, but this is risky business. If not pulled off correctly, you’ll feel self-conscious and humiliated all weekend. That’s another thing about Halloween in college, and especially at BC: it gets competitive.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m looking forward to this Halloweekend just as much as everyone else, especially now that my costume anxiety has subsided. The parties are always memorable and it’s fun to be someone or something else for the night. I mean, I could be Beyoncé and no one could question me. That’s better than Christmas.
It’s just a little bittersweet to think somewhere along the way, maybe without even knowing it, we traded candy for vodka and chubby pumpkins for scantily-clad kitty cats. But, I think Halloween’s changing nature is just a part of the growing up process. We’ve already traded t-ball for dizzy bat and (thankfully) Abercrombie & Fitch for anything else. We’ve even left our parents behind, our wallets a little bit emptier but our souls a good bit freer, knowing we are in charge of our own destinies.
As we grow up, Halloween begins to feel like a relic of the past, something we must update to fit our new maturity. Adulthood is right around the corner, calling us to come out and play in the big leagues, and we respond resoundingly. This Halloween, as I treat the child in me to a king size Hershey’s bar, I wonder if maybe we were just a little bit wiser before we grew up.