At Walgreens last week I was more than delighted to see a fully-stocked aisle of Halloween decorations, candy and things of the sort. Eight minutes passed before I realized I had spent eight minutes pressing the “try me” buttons of all the freakish knickknacks, including a 9-inch hanged clown that shouted phrases such as “let me down” while kicking its legs frantically, a corpse-looking clown that set up in its coffin (it also voiced Haley Joel Osment-like phrases) and cackling witches that danced.
I went for the clown.
Grinning, I placed my find along with candy corn, diet coke and a six-pack of Big Flats up on the counter. A guy who looked like a college student began ringing them up.
“Is this yours too?” he asked of the scary clown.
“Yes,” I said proudly. “My daughter’s going to love this.”
I was disappointed in his lack of response. If he had any enthusiasm whatsoever regarding my treasure, it was not apparent on his face or in what he said, which turned out to be nothing at all.
I was not about to let it end there.
“Yeah, I’ll probably buy one of these Halloween things every time I come in here now,” I said. “I’m so glad you guys got some stuff in already.”
The college student began to at least try to sound interested.
“That’s cool, man. We had a guy come in earlier and buy a whole bunch of candy.”
It was a piss-poor try. Did he buy any decorations – at least a jumping spider or “Grim Reaper Welcome” sign? I needed answers.
“Eh, the candy’s good, but I really like the decorations. I bought a whole bunch of them at Cracker Barrel the day after Halloween last year.”
“Why’d you buy them the day after?”
“Oh, because they mark them all down like 75 percent off,” I told him, determined to take his shred of interest to the next level. “You know how they have some really cool stuff there.”
“I’ve never been in there.”
Yeah right, fatty. You know you love Cracker Barrel.
“Well, I paid 16 dollars for a bag full of stuff that would have cost about 50 dollars before Halloween. It’s been sitting in my closet all year. I can’t wait to get it out.”
He raised his eyebrow for approximately two milliseconds before returning his face to its instinctively uninterested expression. I gave up. He was done ringing my stuff up, anyway.
“See what happens when you get old? You get excited about things like that.” I laughed, but was practically sobbing inside. He laughed as well and told me to have a nice night.
As I walked out of the store and toward my car, which I’d just washed that morning, I realized something: I am old. I was pumped – truly thrilled – about putting my bargain shopping skills on display. Sure, I have always loved Halloween and my infatuation with decor related to the holiday has been accelerated by having a 6-year-old daughter (it’s the best age for scary stuff), but make no mistake about it: $16 for something that cost $50 just days earlier was a reason to be downright giddy.
Was I this way in high school? No – I left the decorating to my mother, since I was a tenant living for free in her house. I began enjoying to decorate in college, but I never gave a crap about saving money. Now – at the age of 28 – I am loving both.