Aaron R. Davis
October is one of my favorite months of the year. This is the month of Halloween, when the mundane becomes sublime, the everyday becomes weird and it’s just a little more okay to act like a big kid. I’ve talked about it before. In fact, one of my early columns was about how disappointed I was to see Halloween dwindling and dying. Since then, my generation has really stepped up to the plate and made Halloween at least as big a deal as Christmas. So big, that I now encounter people whose Halloween celebration begins in late August!
Hey, if stores can put up Christmas merchandise in September, we can damn well have our pumpkins and vampire bats before that.
I love everything about Halloween: decorations, TV specials, music, cheesy sound effects tapes, Hocus Pocus on Lifetime, the Halloweentown movies on Disney Channel, the way ABC Family tries to rebrand their monthly showings of every Harry Potter movie as something holiday-specific. One thing I particularly love is the food. Everyone throws pumpkin spice in everything, sometimes to good effect (dark roast coffee, donuts, bread), and sometimes to bad effect (those lattes are just … no).
Here’s the best meal for Halloween, hands down: get yourself some pumpkin rolls from the bakery section of your local grocery store. You know what I’m talking about; the ones with cream cheese in the center. Take them home and batter them with Southern Comfort egg nog (or, if you really want to be decadent with these — and you do — some CF Burger Colonial Style Custard Nog). Then fry them to make pumpkin French toast. This is the dreamiest food I have ever eaten in my life. Pair it with some thick bacon and dark coffee, top it with whipped cream and it’s like kissing a pumpkin. The first time I ever ate this stuff, you know what I thought? “I hope I die today because nothing will ever top the experience of eating this.”
That’s part of the magic of Halloween. Something like French toast becomes something wonderful.
And that’s not all. There are also the brands that go all out and put out special Halloween editions of their everyday products. Earlier this month, I ate Twinkies with “orange s’cream” filling which, to my surprise, actually tasted orange. They tasted fresh, too, which is nice, because Twinkies haven’t really been very good for a decade or so. That’s why I like the Halloween Oreos with the orange-colored filling; they taste new, and they have a generous amount of cream, not like the begrudging smear you get any other time of the year. Sure, they’re just colored Oreos, but since I only eat them around Halloween, it’s a nice treat.
Twizzlers put out special edition caramel apple flavor licorice, which is very sugary, but surprisingly great. There are pumpkin-flavored Toaster Strudel which taste warm and wonderful. I love Franken Berry Fruit Roll-Ups and Count Chocula Bars. There is all of this great Halloween food to taste and try.
My favorite Halloween edition food this year has been, to my surprise, the Cheetos Bag of Bones. Now, I really hate Cheetos. I think they’re gross. But when they’re shaped like skeleton bones, they become special. And they taste like white cheddar and don’t make me feel sick. Apparently, when it comes to synthetic cheese dust on puffed air, white cheddar is what my body prefers.
Now, here’s the thing … I’m fat. I’ve talked about it a lot. So there’s always this part of me that wants to tell you that, don’t worry, I can control myself. I don’t sit and eat all of this stuff at once, over and over, binging on junk. I don’t buy this stuff again and again; I buy it once, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. This is the way society trains people — especially overweight people like me — to acknowledge our size as a way to apologize to you for being different. Actually, let’s be honest: it’s not just overweight people, it’s people who are thin, too. It’s everyone. There are people who, every day, are made to feel like they’re somehow unacceptable for being the “wrong” size.
That’s one of the great downsides of the holidays: we’re encouraged to indulge ourselves in special foods that are seasonal, and then preyed on by an industry that’s evolved to capitalize on our feelings of guilt … guilt born out of society’s weird, unspoken agreement that it’s okay to devalue people based on their bodies. The holiday gatherings are all food-based, and then we’re supposed to feel bad about eating that food? I know I’ve said this so often that it’s lost all meaning, but society is ridiculous.
I was talking to a friend recently about how thrilled I was to make the first pumpkin pie of the season (which I’ve already done and which my wife and I have already finished off), and she told me that she found it hard to take joy in eating. That she had, for a long time, forbade herself to feel happiness when eating something amazing, especially in public, because she didn’t feel like she was allowed to.
I’ve been thinking about that for a few weeks now, and I know I have a similar problem most of the time. Most of the year, I barely eat during the day, because I feel guilty feeding myself, because of the way people have made me feel over the years about food. But no one would look at me and think that I’m actually overweight in part because I’m undernourished. They see me getting an Icee every so often and think that I’m fat because I’m constantly indulging, and it makes me feel bad, which makes me feel worse about eating, so I eat less.
So this is my call to the rest of you who feel like it’s somehow “wrong” to get pleasure from eating: enjoy yourselves. It’s okay to like it.
Isn’t that part of what’s so great about Halloween? That the mundane can be wonderful? Well, give yourselves a treat and enjoy what you eat.
And I’m not saying overindulge or binge or whatever “healthy” people will accuse me of saying. I’m saying that a few seconds of happiness from flavor is not anything to feel guilty or bad about.
There are people out there who think it’s okay to devalue you and your opinions just based on what your body looks like. Those are people who do not deserve to have their opinions valued—especially their opinions of your life.
Fuck those people. Let them stew in the sadness of making themselves feel better by belittling others. They’re pathetic, and their acceptance is worthless. Like Nicki Minaj said: there are people who will never accept you, so stop asking for their acceptance.
Enjoy Halloween. Enjoy your food.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org