By LARRY WOODY
The other day I saw an advertisement for Halloween costumes and it scared the daylights out of me.
What sent shivers down my coccyx wasn't a blood-sucking vampire, a brain-chomping zombie, a vote-mongering political candidate or other nightmarish creatures.
It was the price tags on the costumes. Talk about scary.
My first car cost less than you'd have to spend to dress like Dracula or the Mummy.
(I must admit, it would be interesting to see the missus decked out as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, but I doubt that she'd go for it.)
A national survey projects that Americans will spend about $2.8 billion on Halloween costumes. Around $1.4 billion for adult get-ups, $1 billion for the kiddies and -- I'm not making this up -- $350 million for pet outfits. Frankenstein Fido -- that's what we've come to.
The survey even projects the most popular costumes. For adults its' a witch,,,for kiddies it's a Princess, an animal or Spider Man...for pets it's a pumpkin or hot dog.
When I was a kid, Halloween was simpler. Like Charlie Brown, we'd just throw an old sheet over our head (or a new sheet if our mom wasn't on guard) and go trick-or-treating as a ghost.
Our dog would go as dog.
One year my boyhood buddy Booger Johnson got creative. He painted his face green, glued a stem on his head, and went as a cumquat.
Not many adults wore costumes back then, although one memorable Halloween Miss Wigglebottom, our 2nd-grade teacher, came to school dressed as Wonder Woman. Hello puberty.
Miss Wigglebottom was ahead of her time. No. 10 on the list of "popular adult costumes for females" is wench/tart/vixen. That'll melt your candy.
Speaking of wenches, I'm reminded of the guy who went to an auto dealership to buy an off-road vehicle. The dealer asked if he'd like a winch to go with it.
"Better not," said the guy. "My wife might find out."
Back to Halloween:
Back when I was a kid we didn't receive lavish delicacies like individually-wrapped designer Swiss chocolates. Instead, we'd usually get a handful of stale candied corn, chipped out of a candy dish where it had been sitting since last Halloween and covered in lint and cat hairs.
Anybody who'd give a kid candied corn deserves to have their outhouse tipped over.
Nowadays kiddies revel in an orgy of sugary goodies, which is why Halloween is the favorite holiday of the American Dental Association.
Frankly, Halloween's not all that scary any more. Ghosts, ghouls and goblins can't compete with the routine horrors on the 6 o'clock news.
You want scary? Forget the crumbling old mansion on the hill or the ancient graveyard where tombstones grin like broken teeth in the moonlight. Try riding the subway in New York City. That'll give you nightmares for weeks.
But Halloween's still fun, and come All Hallows Eve we'll have a jack-o-lantern squatting on the porch, its flicking glow serving as a beacon for little neighborhood spooks as they scamper and scurry about.
I'll wait patiently, like Linus in the pumpkin patch. This could be the Halloween that Elvira, Mistress of the Night, finally rings my doorbell.