Thoughts with Richard Bleil
This is my favorite time of season. Halloween, or rather more specifically Trick or Treat, is an opportunity to live out any life you want, and to exchange small gifts of candy. There’s a certain innocence in Halloween, and a certain joy in celebrating death. It seems like an oxymoron, and perhaps it is.
Celebrations of death abound. In Mexico, la Dia de los Muertos, translated as the Day of the Dead, is celebrated at about the same time as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. Rather than a day of mourning, it’s a day of celebration and joy, an invitation of the ancestors back into the lives of their loved ones to celebrate. In America, we’re starting, slowly, to see a transition in this direction as more people would rather be buried with a Celebration of Life rather than a mournful funeral. When one passes, it’s difficult to ignore the loss from our lives of the dearly departed, but a Celebration of Life, as I personally would like to have, is more of a “roast” of the departed. Loved ones celebrate having had the departed in their lives and share stories of the joy and happiness they brought.
Death is in our future. There is no changing that, and, some say, ours is the only animal with knowledge of our imminent demise. So, if nothing can be done to change it, why not have some fun with it? Why not acknowledge it and celebrate it together. Maybe doing so will help mitigate the fear of our inevitable demise. Perhaps this is what scary movies and Trick or Treating is all about.
There is, however, a distinct difference between the games of Halloween and actual death. Having worked as the director of a forensic lab, I learned this the hard way. In one case, a drug addict had put up security cameras around his own apartment (paranoia is common among drug dealers) and convinced his girlfriend to kill him. With some convincing and sitting on a bed filled with cash, she eventually picked up the handgun he provided and shot him. One round, and the deed was done.
We had to set up a way for people to view the security video that was captured, and this was in the conference room next to my office. Investigators (sheriff’s office), detectives (police department), defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, psychiatrists and so forth came in a parade of small groups to watch this tape, and as much of the conversation occurred in hushed tones, the volume was always on maximum so I could hear it in my office. It was something like a crime drama, something you would see in a movie except that, in this case, it actually happened. This wasn’t play-acting, and every time I could hear the point in the video where the gunshot was coming up, my physiological response was real. I knew it was in the past, but every time my blood pressure went up, my heart rate increased, my temperature went up, and I experienced all of the symptoms of an adrenaline event. It got to the point where, when we had another group watching the tape, I had to leave. There was nothing I could do, the events had happened, but I knew it was real and I struggled with it every time.
As I write this, I’m watching one of the better horror series made, a brutal, bloody, violent and awful series of horror movies, and they’re just good fun entertainment. I know they’re fake, and it’s all acting, so it’s not real in my mind. Just like Halloween. Yes, we dress up as zombies and demons, but it’s all fake. Just good clean fun.
Yes, some people argue that Halloween is a satanic holiday, but honestly, I think it’s just about imagination and fun. I don’t believe there is another holiday that so celebrates creativity, so I say, enjoy. The saddest part of the holiday is that it feels as if too many people believe it’s only for kids. Okay, maybe I’m still immature, but I’m old enough to be a grandfather and I certainly enjoy it. I have an idea for a vampire cloak that, I believe would safely enshroud me in smoke. I do need to get my sewing machine out to make it so I can see if it works as well as I believe it should, but how much fun would that be? I’ve even gone so far as to purchase retractable fangs. How fun to be in that cape, standing in a localized fog, smiling with fangs slowly ascending? Ah, yes, that would be fun.