It’s been summer for two minutes, and I’ve barely eaten one watermelon, and Code Orange alerts are already popping off. Some big-name corporations with their 12-ft skeletons, smelly good candles, and plug-in wall projectors must have finally reviewed their Halloween sales reports from the past few years. The outcome is that the Halloween lovers were right; they want their Autumn treasures unleashed earlier, if not at the same time as the Christmas shit.
They are just posting teasers, however. Only a few big named stores are putting Halloween wares on their shelves before Pride Month ends. At Home keeps the thrill of the hunt fun by not having stores readily available unless you happen to live within fifty miles of one.
That’s when my mind starts questioning how badly I need whatever such a store has. Is the drive worth it when I could visit a local, year-round spooky store such as The Skeleton Key, or a virtual Market of The Beast? I remind myself that I’ll be okay to embrace the remainder of summer and enjoy pineapple and watermelon in their season. After all, it won’t be long before Spirt Halloween signs begin to appear, and there will be another item to obsess over and perhaps have the money for it. And still, even yet, the best of Halloween goodies lie within the business that keeps the energy going all year.
I get the Code Orange vibe. I truly do. Last summer, 100 days before Halloween 2022, I wore my best pumpkin fit and went to one TJ Max and one HomeGoods to get a dose of Summerween and a feel for the coming Autumn. I like to see what Halloween influencers find and feel a sense of community if I see a Code Orange item they found. Though, I often feel weird sharing what I perceive as a unique find.
There were Halloween seasons when I couldn’t afford but one, if any, hot Code Orange item. There have been times when I had to choose to go to Midsummer Scream or Knott’s Scary Farm. I would craft my own Halloween decor using the inspiration and knowledge gained from both—my very own one-of-a-kind pieces.
When I am down in the depths of melancholy, I look to my treasures with accompanying music or movie and reminisce about the spooky memories surrounding that item. I know the pressures and pleasures of those often over-rated Code Oranges. I do.
Last Halloween, well past the Code Orange season, I fixated on Target’s Orange Pumpkin Headed Skeleton. In 2021, it had been a big deal and sold out quickly; even though Target didn’t put them out until October. They went fast. They made appearances between seasons, so I found it a nice reprieve from the grief I was enduring to visit a few Target stores looking for one.
I peeked in at my local Target three weeks in a row before taking the hunt for this pumpkin head seriously. I put on my new PJs and Halloween Crocs in sport mode and stomped into the store. Indeed by now, they would notice my anxiety and kind of, I don’t know, maybe hurry up with unpacking the spooky goods. And to my elation and humiliation, my high vibrations caught the attention of an employee named, Michael.
Michael: Hey, I recognize you!” He said. “You’ve been coming in for the past few weeks, I’ve noticed. Is there something I can help you find?
I told Michael about the Orange Pumpkin Headed Skeleton I had been looking for. Which, he happened to know one was undoubtedly in stock and unpacked, but a woman called just like 18 minutes before asking for it to be put aside for her as she, too, had been searching for the same skelly.
Me: Taking the “L” right then and there. It was fun but I’m exhausted looking for this thing that wasn’t available online.
Michael: She said she will be here in 20 minutes, so there are about two minutes for you to go and check the left side of the Halloween display and see if there is perhaps one, upside down with a cloth over it in the shopping cart that was kind of smushed in a corner.
Still not registering what Michael just said and was headed towards the Halloween display, my Hub Bub snapped me out of my self-crafted despair and told me to hurry the fuck up and let’s get to the back of the store and get out of here!
Hub Bub snatched up the Orange Pumpkin Head Skelly, grabbed my hand as I thanked Michael, and asked if he would be ok if this fellow Halloween hunter Karen’ed out on him.
“It’s no problem. I’ll be fine. I didn’t even give her a name; I just told her where to look. Happy Halloween!”
Hub Bub and I crept through the less populated aisles altogether, avoiding the main corridors to avoid anyone who looked remotely like they were into Halloween for fear of running into the lady who had to have parked her car by now. We used self-checkout, me on the lookout, and just like that, a whole ass adventure and new memory was acquired.
I felt terrible for stealing someone else’s Halloween joy, but also, it’s part of the tricks of the season. Right? Yes, there’s still guilt there. For a moment there, it also felt like I was a capitalist amid a Black Friday tantrum. This is the first time I’ve shared the story publicly, and I keep Orange Pumpkin Head Skelly close by. But, believe me… I have no regrets. It was fun and thrilling being mischievous in the season meant for it.
There is a pleasure to be had in the findings and creations of others during Halloween. Though, when finding sold-out, limited edition items from Bath & Body Works end up on Offer Up its annoying. I saw some twat trying to sell that eyeball thing for over $300.00 last year! Then I also figured if anyone actually paid that much for that eyeball, we have a bigger issue than just opportunists like the seller. So, along with major corporations taking advantage of Halloweeniers, so are typical late-stage capitalists. It’s much like those fuckers who buy up concert tickets and sell them at exorbitant prices. I grew up with such opportunists and couldn’t stand that they were putting others out for an easy cash-in-hand profit. While it doesn’t take the magic away from Summerween and the first Code Orange alerts, it infuriates me that more opportunists and other predators are preying on Halloween artists, advocates, and consumers now more than ever. Not only do they dangle spooky treasures with absurd resell prices over our heads, they often emit all the pressure to consume such goods.
On June 11, I listened in on Sip n’ Spirits hosting a panel on Consumerism in Halloween Communities. It was a gentle and encouraging chat between a few Halloween influencers regarding their experiences and tips on how to feel less of that pressure during Halloween. Give it the podcast a listen HERE.
Code Orange hunts and finds are perfect ways to get excited for Halloween and Haunt seasons. It injects a bit of that special autumn feel while I’m enduring copius amounts of titty sweat, making the hottest summer days more enjoyable. It’s like Halloween encroaching on Summer holidays in the same fashion that Christmas does before August. I’m sure that tomfoolery will be hitting store aisles right after the stupid 4th of July and calling out that bullshit is too part of the tricks and mischief of Halloween. Making it Halloween every season 😉
This summer, let’s try something new. Find or create a one-of-a-kind Code orange before the 100 days of Halloween countdown begins. Tell/share in the comments.