Last year's pumpkin carving, because I'm a schmuck contributing to the death of Halloween.

Halloween is dead.  Officially.

I'm not generally a fan of sweeping declarative statements like the one I just made, but I've been collecting evidence on the long, slow decline of the holiday, and as far as I'm concerned, there is sufficient reason to believe Halloween will never be what it once was.

I grew up in a decade that wasn't favorable to the holiday, the 1990s.  October 31 almost ubiquitously presented a young Chicago suburbanite with a miserable night marked either by the beginning of an early cold snap or a late-autumn rainstorm that would have turned us all pneumatic if our parents hadn't insisted upon wrapping us in large, puffy coats and hiding our costumes in the process amid fervent protestations and candy-fueled tantrums.  But we went out there, goddammit, and ran around all night, and while I've never been a particularly mischievous person — comprised as I am of a regrettable innate fear of consequences that has contributed in no small part to my being a sexual cripple and a sanctimonious bore — I managed to get a few licks in on Halloween night.  That's what the holiday is about for the American child, after all, isn't it?  Getting pumped to the gills with sugar and riding a reckless delusion of invincibility to a slue of life decisions bearing unconscionable repercussions that will only become evident years down the road, long after anything within reason can be done about it.  The problem is, most of the necessary hellianism requires the cover of dark.

I don't remember when They began scaling back the Halloween curfew, whoever they are.  I imagine it all started during middle school for me, and in the subsequent years, curfew has been modified a number of times and still varies depending on your location.  A quick Google search indicates that this year's curfew in Wheaton was an utterly ridiculous 7 p.m., and even more depressing, the streets were quiet by 6:30.  Night didn't fall until around 7:30, which means ostensibly none of the trick-or-treating that took place in Wheaton did so after the sun had fallen below the horizon.

I understand the streets aren't quite as safe for kids these days as they used to be, and I understand the numerous warnings about razor blades, poison candy, and reptilians living among us have taken a psychological toll on the modern parent with which I can't fully empathize since I (thankfully) don't have any kids of my own, but is it too much to ask that these little disease pots get a chance to cavort around when the infantile prospect of ghosts and goblins can be enhanced by a relative lack of sunlight?  What mystery there was has been sucked out of the whole affair, and I shudder to think how ancient we will all seem when kids two generations from now see home videos of their parents and grandparents running around at night, mouths crusted with Jolly Rancher and convulsing in moonlight, too hopped up on adrenaline to care and too infused with fructose to remember their own names.

Of course, by then, kids may be paddling from houseboat to houseboat begging sardines from the neighbors, but that's not a reason to sacrifice quality control of the holiday just yet.  Otherwise, we're simply perpetuating the existence of  a costume pageant without the requisite perks it once carried.

That being said, if any of you bastards ever eggs my car again, I'm calling the cops.