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One more holiday; one more day to avoid

Holidays are of great importance to me _ specifically, how to go about avoiding them and all of the people who actually enjoy them.

I am the original Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving Scrooge, and I'm not particularly thrilled by New Year's Eve (since I stopped abusing alcohol recreationally), Arbor Day, Mother's Day or dead presidents' birthdays designed to increase white-sale revenues.

We celebrate Labor Day by not working, Memorial Day by ignoring those who are actually in the process of memorializing and most other days by making the greeting card and floral delivery businesses richer.

Some of our holidays have deep religious or historical significance and are faithfully observed by people for the right reasons. But we, as a nation, treat most of them as opportunities to celebrate greed, gluttony, substance abuse, slothfulness and dermatology (by spending way too much time in the sun).

Okay, it's not that bad, but a lot of what we do during the holidays is just silly, which is why I am preserving my dignity by going to a movie about an extraterrestrial transsexual who lives in a castle and develops the hots for Susan Sarandon. To wit: the Rocky Horror Picture Show at Tampa Theater.

Halloween, a serious religious holiday for my Wiccan friends and one that actually also has roots in Christianity, is largely a pain in the neck for me. Every bad writer in Hollywood feels compelled to work up a script for each television series, and the boredom that produces is broken only by spending the entire evening getting up to answer the door and dispense tooth-rotting candy to urchins whose parents' idea of a costume is a garbage bag with head and arm holes cut in it. (How's that for building a kid's self-image?)

The messages for children are clear. Sometimes it is okay to take candy from strangers, but only if you do it in the dark and at their homes and only in strange neighborhoods. (My neighborhood has about six kids in it, and the usual Halloween census is about 50.)

Add the subtle message of extortion (give me candy or I'll vandalize your property), throw nutritional sense out of the window and send your kids on the downward slope that will tell them in a month that we owe God thanks for football and that it's a really good idea to crawl into the lap of a strange bearded man in a public place, lie to him about your behavior and then share your deepest personal secrets.

The only reasons I have played along before is that there is, among the cigarette-smoking, 15-year-old, 200-pounders whose getups may or may not be costumes, usually a cute kid or two; some of the kids are at least supervised; and some of them come into my neighborhood because theirs is poor, and a piece of candy is a genuine treat for them.

My escape choices this year were limited, and I was destined for the Grateful Dead night at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa, but I was having trouble finding a designated driver and it sounds like they are combining themes of the world's greatest band and the movie Night of the Living Dead.

I don't do costumes and was going to go without one, hoping somebody would think I was in a Jerry Garcia costume, until it dawned on me that my decaying face and frame, combined with some ugly facial abrasions I received in a recent fall, might convince people that I was dressed as a rotting, smelly, filthy, recently animated corpse.

Just my luck I would win first prize and whoever I conned into driving would never be able to keep his or her mouth shut.

So it's off to the movies for me and no costumes. The last time I went into Lane Bryant looking for a T-back bathing suit with a 50-inch waist (so I could play a joke on a Channel 13 news crew), they gave me very strange looks. I refuse to submit myself to trying to find a merry widow bustier, queen-size fishnet stockings and spiked pumps in a men's 10{ EE because I'm not up for any confrontations with mall security until my fat lip heals.

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