by | Feb 25, 2009 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

When did adults start dressing for Halloween? Last thing I knew, Halloween was for kids and it was mostly about candy. Check that. It was all about candy. I honestly didn’t care if I went as a pirate, Scooby-Doo or a bedsheet, as long as my bag was filled with Milky Ways.

As for my parents? Their job was not to dress up. Their job was to go through our candy like airport security and remove all apples, marshmallows, anything that might have a razor blade in it or anything that might have been cooked by this weird woman up the street who never came out of her house.

My parents did not have costumes. My parents did not go to Halloween parties. At Halloween, my parents mostly rolled their eyes and said things like, “Again, we’re gonna have to take them to the dentist.”

So I am a bit lost when I see how Halloween has been usurped by grown-ups. I recently read where women – not girls, but women – are dressing up for Halloween this year as Paris Hilton in Prison, which is, according to photos in USA Today, a black-striped outfit of pink material that barely covers a woman’s rear end and unzips to reveal cleavage. Apparently, some are adding little dogs as accessories.

Now it’s the kids who roll their eyes.

‘I am not a crook’

According to, more than 63% of adults participate in Halloween, and it is the third-biggest occasion for adult parties, just after the Super Bowl and New Year’s Eve.

I’m not sure I get this. I have gone to adult Halloween parties. At one, I dressed up because we were supposed to dress up. But I quickly realized that after you see your friend as a giant lizard, Richard Nixon or a Cabbage Patch doll, and after you squeal, “Oh my god, what are YOU supposed to be?” there’s pretty much nothing else to do but drink. Which can be hard to do if you’re wearing a Darth Vader mask.

I knew of these two guys who, one Halloween, got so elaborate. One dressed as a giant box with legs and the other dressed as a big insect. And every few seconds, the insect guy would slam into the other guy, then fall down as if dead. Finally, after a dozen of these performances, someone asked what they were supposed to be, and they answered: “A Roach Motel.”

I’m sorry. But that’s overthinking it.

The pirates of America

But this is what happens when adults usurp a kiddie idea. Adults come in existential costumes (all black, “Look, I’m Donald Rumsfeld’s conscience”), wordplay costumes (an Army top and an Army bottom, as “upper and lower GI’s”) and, yes, celebrity mimic costumes.

According to USA Today, Britney Spears, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton are at the top of adult costume lists. Why? All we do all year is make fun of them. Now we want to dress up like them?

And what exactly do you do once you’re dressed up like Richie? NOT eat? Doesn’t that violate the spirit of the holiday?

And here’s another thing. According to an Ohio research group, more than 7 million households will actually – I kid you not – dress up their PETS for Halloween.

Now, that does it. You may enjoy going door-to-door in drag, but I can guarantee your dog does not. Dogs just want to know when they’re going to eat.

Like kids at Halloween.

So unless your neighbors are dishing out Kibbles ‘n Bits, leave your poor dog at home. You may enjoy sweating, itching and squirming inside a Johnny Depp pirate mask, but dogs know better.

And so do I. At the risk of suffering ridicule and scorn from my fellow adults, I am going to state my case right here: If there’s no candy in a bag, I’m not going out. You know what that is? That’s the true spirit of Halloween, that’s what that is.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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