The weather here outside my backdoor has been rather nostalgic. I know that sounds awkward but it’s the only way to describe it. I recently moved back into the apartments I lived in way long ago. I never thought before about how the sounds and smells around you are always subtly there. It used to be the sights of October that would set in that special 90s vibe. Sadly those sights are all gone.
Like most things I notice missing it wasn’t all the Covid’s fault, but I’m sure it has probably struck the finishing blow. It all started with Trick or Treating becoming more structured. Planned closed community events and areas not just a sea of children roaming until way to late bothering everyone for candy and never really following through with the pranks. That started the decline in yard decorations. Netflix and Hulu started a shift away from TV ads 5o streaming ads and well that has killed those amazing Halloween advertisements.
No Halloween commercials then we’ll no tie in halloween packaging. Which might be an even bigger loss. Because spooky sells. You can count on that, just ask Tim Burton. I will always gravitate towards a Dracula or Wolfman version of something if given options.
So we no longer see it outside, we don’t see it inside on TV, and I swear the leaves don’t change anymore they just seem to disappear one day. Sure you can set up your own decorations but that won’t work. You can’t spook yourself anymore than you can hit yourself. Sure it kinda works, but it feels different. Like Halloween episodes of shows now. We no longer get holiday special episodes because they want the show to be bingeable year round on a weekend. There are a few rare exceptions.
So I had given up hope so hard on feeling that halloween mood that I didn’t even notice it didn’t come. That chilling crisp air, first break from school, walking in a sea of leaves to go rent a videogame for the weekend, and being absorbed in the spooky decorations and just letting my mind wander to all manners of family friendly scares. That is until something magical happened. I bought a Tombstone pizza on sale thinking nothing of it to be honest. Tossed it in the oven and cracked the patio door to let the oven heat out… That’s when it started. I heard that specific see slow autumn cricket sounds mixed with that sharp windy howl. A clean crisp wind pushing into my house bring with it that unmistakable smell of dead leaves and damp saw dust. The very smell of fall from my childhood, and yet I hadn’t realized it yet. Tombstone smells the same as ever, tastes the same as ever, and still I didn’t get that hit. The cats were sleeping and the lights were dim so I figured I’d play some NES to find a game to review.
Then it clicked as I took a sip of Pepsi and just had to break a smile. This was perfect. It made me think of everything I used to enjoy about this time of year. So to complete the atmosphere I put old 90’s halloween commercials on YouTube in the background from my phone while I just settled in and enjoyed a few brief moments back in 1996 before passing out on the couch. So ofcourse I wanted that again. But how?!
I decided to recreate that environment to try and bring myself a more focused blast of Halloween but it failed. Not one to give up I had to keep going. 4 Tombstone pizzas and give days later it dawned on me. It was the NES.
The flickering sprites, the difficulty that doesn’t hold back, and only having two buttons and still not knowing what to do in most games all built a sense of helplessness. That bit of defenselessness is what I needed to feel that way again. Anymore we are so stuck on trying to be impressive we forget how small we used to feel. How impressive even the smallest thing was. I think it’s part of why we are on the whole less happy. Because we have to act superior to any challenge. We have to always do things bigger, better, and perfect when we have a get together or day out. Completely disregarding how big everything used to feel and how special a late night pizza and gaming could feel. Shut your phone off. Ignore everyone and everything else especially social media and texting. Just give into how things used to be for you. Give it a night to just comeback and maybe don’t worry about rent and bills and work and stuff for a day. Just put yourself back in that childhood mindset where your biggest concern was if you were better at Time splitters than your best friend was. Let your thoughts linger on where your Pogs are not how much they are worth. Just take a night to remember what made you who you are today not in a reflexive looking back way, but a real time trip back to the past to give Ghost and Goblins another try with a Nintendo Power not GameFAQs.