Marolt: Go ahead, pass me some pumpkin seeds

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

Is Halloween fun? I suppose under some circumstances it could be, but one of them is not washing down candy corn with beer. Neither is wearing a costume.

I don’t like acting. Actually, I don’t know if I like acting or not. I tried to do it once, but what happened was nobody’s idea of what acting is, so, technically, I have never acted. I did wear a costume when I was supposed to be acting, though, and I didn’t feel particularly comfortable doing that.

I think the worst part of wearing a costume is that I feel like I’m putting others on the spot. They look at me all dressed up for a minute and I totally recognize the vacancy in their expression before instinct takes over and they force a smile and say out of the back of their throats very slowly, “Ohhh, wowwww. That’sss really greeeat!” Then they try to chuckle, but it only almost comes out and ends up sounding more like they are clearing their throat of a chicken bone.

I just want to tell them that it’s OK and that I didn’t actually spend any time, thought or money on what I’m wearing. I know I look ridiculous. I kind of meant it that way. But I don’t say it because it puts them on the spot again and they feel like they have to explain themselves all over in the other direction, and I get another laugh/grunt. Then, to make up for the awkwardness, I go on and on about how great their costume is until I see in their eyes that they just want to say, “Dude, it’s not like I went all in on this costume, either.”

I should just get over myself and dress up and have a good time, but the truth is that I don’t dance any better in a costume and so it is hard for me to lose myself in the moment, as they say. A lot of people call this having an anal-retentive personality, at least that is what they used to call it in the ’80s when I still had the same hang-ups. I don’t know what they call it now, maybe it’s just being stressed out.

One time in college I actually experienced a little success in dressing up. We were going to a big campus party and I was clowning around going dorm room to dorm room picking out goofy stuff from everyone’s closet and went to the bash dressed as a pile of dirty laundry.

At the end of the party they started calling people up as finalists for the costume contest. They pointed at me. Everyone was laughing and I felt so put on the spot that I resisted. Some people started pulling me up to the stage and I resisted harder. Eventually, about six football players lassoed me with a prop from some cowboy’s costume and I basically involuntarily waterskied across the floor to the stage. It won the crowd over. I got the prize. And vowed never to make such an ass out of myself ever again.

I also learned to never make a promise you can’t keep. Every year since, I have had the worst costume ever. One year, in my adult years, I am ashamed to admit, I made a Roman soldier’s uniform out of some plaid shirts and pajamas; shield, sword, everything. My kids had friends over and they were mortified when I came downstairs dressed like that. One laughed and said, “you’re a plaidiator!”

I was thrilled! Somebody actually got it! They knew what I was! I looked around ready to revel in my own cleverness only to see more blank stares than ever before. Humiliated, I marched back upstairs and dragged out the tired and tattered Thing 1 costume that I made years before out of old, red long underwear. People always say it is a good one, even though it is not even close.

Maybe it is because Halloween always coincides with the World Series. I love The World Series. What I don’t like is having to answer the door every five minutes during a game to hand out candy to kids who try to shame me by telling me my neighbor let them pick out the kinds of candy they liked and gave them more than two pieces each. I know, I know. It’s me trying to be in complete control of things, again. My jack-o-lanterns always have symmetrical eyes.

Maybe I should just let it all loose this year. Maybe I’ll dress up as the Tin Man.

Don’t be surprised if you recognize Roger Marolt on Halloween. Email at