Snetiker: Go fright yourself

Marc Snetiker

This weekend I got scared for the first time in two years.

I mean, like, really scared. Scared enough to scream and be visibly shaken for a few seconds. I suppose the proper word is actually “spooked” – I’m not actually scared of the dress-up monsters at Six Flags Fright Fest. But even though I know they’re as artificial as Gwen Ifill’s claims of political impartiality, I still grabbed my friend’s hoodie and held on for dear life while the scary man in makeup yelled in my face.

And that one moment of hilarious fear got me thinking… I haven’t gotten scared in a long, long time.

Why do I not allow myself to get scared anymore? Am I such a picture-perfect example of maturity and adulthood that I can’t put my fear, however fleeting and momentary, on display?

Since that’s very much NOT the case, I don’t quite know how to explain it, but it’s certainly a phenomenon I’ve noticed among college students. People my age just don’t do “scary” anymore.

Halloween means something completely different to college kids nowadays. We’re too proud to show tangible signs of being afraid, and we’re far too aware of our Northwestern-bred intelligence to admit to freaking out about something that’s obviously artificial. A yelp of shock is now an embarrassing act, not a seasonally-appropriate-and-thus-universally-accepted one.

Plus, we can’t trick-or-treat anymore. That’s probably the biggest bummer of them all. I mean, even if we wanted to, it’s just not acceptable anymore (and it’s mostly illegal in Evanston anyway). What’s the line at which a trick-or-treater goes from normal adolescent to troublemaking teenager? At some moment in high school, our Halloween attire changes from appropriate to obnoxious. And for many girls I know, it seems that for each year they age, they wear one fewer piece of clothing on Halloween.

I just want Halloween to be like it was in the olden days, the days when you couldn’t decide what to carve on your pumpkin, or when you couldn’t even decide which pumpkin to choose, or when you couldn’t stop thinking about the weekend because that’s when you were going to the pumpkin patch in the first place.

You might ask yourself why I’m writing this now rather than in two weeks, when Halloween is a more relevant topic. Well, growing up as a kid who loved the entire month of October simply for the bountiful Halloween spirit, I merely want to encourage everyone to get scared (or plan to do so) sometime in the next few weeks.

Maybe then you can really relive the Halloween of your childhood, when your whole elementary school would dress up in costumes that took more deep thought and careful planning than a Martin Scorcese movie. Those were the days, when true social status came from choice of costume, not cost of couture.

Boo, my friends. Boo.

Medill sophomore Marc Snetiker can be reached at [email protected]