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The pursuit of Halloween 

Hear ye, hear ye! This officialith proclamation announceth that effective immediately this entire quadrant of the galaxy is a No Pants on My Comfy Couch Zone until Nov. 6, 2040—by which point I will almost certainly either be dead or my head will be preserved in a pickle jar and I’ll dictate my columns to a nervous intern who somehow failed to figure out that newspapers went extinct decades earlier.

I would like to remind everyone entering the No Pants on My Comfy Couch Zone to immediately divest themselves of their trousers and flop on the nearest sofa, recliner, couch, bed, or beanbag on penalty of being grumbled at and possibly pelted with stale snack items, assuming I still have the arm strength. Also, there will be a minimum fine of $700. Why? I think I can comfortably state that our quality of life is much better when everyone does what I want. How am I supposed to feel when I want to relax and look outside to find my neighbor mowing his dirt patch like an eager beaver? Or when I’m enjoying my mid-morning beer and look outside to see my neighbor go to work like some important worker guy who makes his own money and wears pants outside?

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My point is that the pursuit of happiness is nothing without the privilege of leveraging that pursuit over an entire city to ensure that nothing uncomfortable, loud, or unexpected happens. I guess in my case I’d like to ensure that nobody does anything productive, helpful, or ambitious while I’m lounging, relaxing, or imbibing.

And before you go ranting about how we live in a free society where people’s right to be noisy or productive or silly has nothing whatsoever to do with me, I feel compelled to point out that there’s a legal precedent for arbitrarily constructing “zones” and discouraging unwanted behavior by increasing fines for a specified duration of time. That’s what the grand ol’ city of San Luis Obispo—or should I refer to it as the Enhanced Safety Zone?—does every year to keep those pesky youths from celebrating Halloween. This year the “Safety Enhancement Zone” went into effect Oct. 30 at 12:01 a.m. and ended Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. Word on the street was the draconian move effectively shut down celebrations around the city, so savvy fine-averse party planners leapt nimbly beyond this hurdle by merely scheduling their Halloween parties for a different weekend.

Personally, I’m all for yet another weekend of candy, skanky costumes, futile waiting in a gourd patch for The Great Pumpkin, and devil worship. In fact, I’m wondering if that’s what the city was secretly hoping for all along. Under the guise of an overreaching authoritarian shakedown, the city has transformed a single night of revelry into several weeks of partying. In lieu of an obnoxious Footloose-era John Lithgow ripoff with wings, SLO’s fairy godmother is a hip Jack Skellington type—slyly sowing the seeds of merriment and cheer while pretending to salt the earth of the pumpkin patch.

And I say—from the vantage point of my comfy seat in the No Pants on My Comfy Couch Zone—that we should support this effort. Wash the vomit and melted chocolate off that Halloween costume, and resume celebrating this weekend! Peel the mustache from your Sexy Stalin outfit from the bottom of your trashcan and march purposefully to the nearest house party! Because if I can endure four months of Christmas—including a Hawaiian-themed city of SLO-sponsored parade (get it? Because Hawaii has a beach and so do we?) and a giant Santa’s house in Mission Plaza—the least everyone else can do is accept the one day of the year that I get to pretend to be something or someone else and people don’t look at me like I’m crazy.

Is a day on which people dress up like zombies and their favorite movie characters and run around asking for candy and drinking and dancing disruptive to the status quo? Absolutely. But isn’t that kind of the point?

Is it disruptive when people stash dyed eggs in their backyard and eat chocolate bunnies wrapped in gold foil? It is if you keep forgetting the date and wind up trying to fry an omelet with the haul from your morning walk.

Is it disruptive when Higuera Street clears of traffic and farmers wheel in broccoli and squash and you have to dodge thousands of oblivious pedestrians just to walk a couple of blocks?

Is it disruptive when we shoot off fireworks near protected bird habitats to commemorate the founding of our country?

We have to accept the fact that a lot of our traditions and behaviors are disruptive. That’s sort of the point of being alive. And just because you don’t happen to get all goosebumpy over the same disruptions doesn’t justify dumping on everyone else’s pumpkin patch.


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