HALLOWEEN IS THE one holiday when people can dress up like anyone they want to be, and do so without being judged.
On Halloween, a 300-pound defensive lineman could walk up to me dressed in full Nicki Minaj regalia, and I'd say, "Yo man, I love that bustier." On Halloween, my cat Styx could prance across the bed dressed as Lassie and I wouldn't bat an eye. A rat dressed as an exterminator? No problem. A deer in a hunting outfit? Innovative. Batman dressed as Robin? A little weird, but on Halloween you let it go.
Why? Because Halloween is just strange enough to make everything seem all right.
That kind of freedom is refreshing, tantalizing - even addictive. Perhaps that's why a growing segment of society is doing the unthinkable. They're trying to make Halloween a daily occurrence.
I didn't notice their growing numbers at first, because everything happened so gradually. I'd see a face tattoo here, a polka-dot Mohawk there, but the sightings seemed isolated, contained, under control. I didn't feel like we were being overtaken. Looking back now, I realize that I underestimated them.
I can still remember the days when Halloween aficionados were cautious about their daily Halloween celebrations. I mean, sure, every once in a while, you'd spot one of them walking into a grunge nightclub. Or maybe you'd see one ducking into a tattoo parlor. But walking around openly in the light of day? That's new. That's scary. That's Halloween.
I've seen girls with weaves so long they look like Cousin Itt from "The Addams Family." I've seen guys with more piercings than Pinhead from the movie "Hellraiser." I've seen people with so many tattoos they look like graffiti-scarred walls. And still, they haven't fazed me. It's only when I see the Halloween masters put all the weirdness together that my eyes begin to bleed.
These hairy pincushions walk among us, with their tattooed faces, pierced hair follicles and crazy outfits identifying them as members of the cult. And make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen. This is a cult, a movement, a next-level sort of craziness that only the truly committed can embrace.
What is the name of this cult, you ask? I call them Halloweenies. Because only a weenie could walk downtown in a full body hairnet. Only a weenie could go to the mall wearing pasties - on their eyes. Only a weenie could paint themselves blue while taking selfies of the piercings on their foreheads. Halloweenies, my friends, are so committed to year-round celebrations of their favorite holiday that they have become weenies. And while they must be stopped, they also must be understood.
So next time you pull back someone's floor-length weave and spot enough face tattoos to cover a small office building, please know it's not their fault. They're a Halloweenie. Next time you see someone with piercings on body parts that should only be examined by a doctor, try to have a little understanding. They're a Halloweenie. Next time you spot someone with a green-and-pink mullet hanging from their left cheek, don't panic. They're a Halloweenie. Next time you're forced to walk up the subway steps behind someone wearing a slingshot for pants, avert your eyes. Spray Lysol if you must. But please know they're not trying to be offensive. It's just that they're a Halloweenie.
I, for one, think there's still time to help them. But it won't be easy, and it won't be fast. It took 10 years for that Halloweenie in the next cubicle to grow dreadlocks from his armpits. It took him an additional five years to get used to wearing tanktops year-round. He's committed to his Halloweenie lifestyle, and we have to be just as committed to helping him.
Today is Oct. 1, just 30 days from the holiday they all revere. That means Halloweenies will be out there testing their outfits, piercing their eyelids, and pushing the boundaries of decency. But this year, we're going to play it smart.
When one of them shows up at work wearing a Speedo for a headband, don't panic. Just tell him it's an interesting look. When one of them walks by dressed in foil and wire hangers, just smile and tell her she should get great reception. When one of them walks up to you dressed as a rainbow-colored unicorn, just smile and tell him you get the point.
We've got to love these people out of this craziness. Otherwise, this thing could spread, and we could end up as Halloweenies, too.
Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books, including his latest novel, The Dead Man's Wife (Minotaur Books). More at Solomonjones.com.