Halloween means all of that to me, and two more equally special things, besides. For one, I'm a lover of the costumer's art, so Halloween means to me a time where I can wallow in perfectly acceptable folk art and boggle, with my jaw figuratively hanging down around my knees, at some truly amazing public art. For another, Halloween is the one night of the year when everybody can temporarily embrace John Lilly's mantra: "You can be anything you want, this time around." If there's some aspect of your personality that you can't fit into your daily life without mucking it up, there's a costume that will let you express that part of your personality for one night. If there's a road not taken that you sometimes whistfully dream about, you can be that person for one night. But yeah, especially now that adults have taken over Halloween, on top of those two wonderful things it is also a time when people from San Francisco to New York put on masks and then go to a party, or go to a bar, or go to a parade, and go totally freaking hog-wild nuts in a perfectly socially deniable way. I think of it as one of the two "bookends" of the year, the two times a year that you can mask up and do that: Mardi Gras in February or March, and Halloween at the end of October, both conveniently almost evenly spaced. It means that if you need to go wild in a deniable way, there's hardly ever more than six or seven months that you have to hold it in.
But not long after I was thinking about this, one of my female friends admitted something to me that she doesn't tell very many people: she's not as cheap a drunk as she lets on. The silly girl thought that she was the only one who drank not for the biological effects of alcohol but for the social cue it provides and for fellowship with other social drinkers. But that nails down the other extreme. At one end of the spectrum are dreary puritans who believe that everything has to go on your permanent record, that there are no releases or escapes from your "true nature," and that if you ever feel the urge to do something, let alone act upon it, that means that you're always going to be judged as a person who does that, as if you did it all the time. At the far end, though, are the people who get drunk every weekend, or at least pretend to be drunk, so that they can escape from the customs and mores of society for an evening and blame it on the liquor. Hence the old, tired joke about the mating call of the Blonde: "Oh gawd, I am SOOOO drunk!" But in between those two alternatives, there's a range of possible answers to the question: when doesn't it count? Not in the sense of "when should I not be held responsible for my actions or their consequences," but in the sense of "when should I be able to do or say something without people assuming that I'm like that all the time, or want to be"?
What are the times and events when you think you can do something you wouldn't normally do without people treating you as if you were always like that? When do you extend the same benefit of the doubt to others?