They say that ignorance is bliss, although some of the most ignorant people out there seem to be pissed off all the time. Still, there’s something to it. There are all sorts of things I remember enjoying more when I didn’t know as much. And not just pâté de foie gras.

I used to be able to ignore ads for big-ass cars. But now when I see them ripping through a wetland or jolting up a rocky incline to pose like a conqueror on a precipice overlooking sacred scenery, all I can see is ruined habitat and squashed lizards and noise and clamor and poison, like a poster for everything that’s wrong with humans.
And I used to like Halloween decorations more. I’m still all for it, old-school. I like when people go to the trouble of making little ghosts out of sheets and hanging them up. Or carving pumpkins for the front porch. The Halloween decoration industry has really revved up though. Everywhere you look there are gravestones, skeletons, and fake cobwebs. I approve of the sentiment. For one thing, it’s all liable to scandalize Christians. Not the Jesus kind, but the kind you don’t mind pissing off.

So while I generally approve of the effort involved, now it just looks like more consumption, with all that entails. It’s a lot of oil. It’s plastic. It’s fun, and it’s trash. Turns out the polyester cobwebs even snare birds. I would never scold anyone for it, but I wouldn’t buy it either. Thirty years ago, if I’d seen a Tyrannosaurus skeleton, I might have wanted one, but I think twice about every such thing now. The kids’ costumes are troublesome too. Lots of plastic masks. Glitter: microplastic. The coolest costumes I ever see are all homemade and have a lot of thought in them. Couple years ago we saw the most compelling pint-sized girl in a voluminous long white dress and prim collar, her hair bundled into a bun, carrying a small white book and a candle. I had to ask.

Emily Dickinson’s ghost, as I live and breathe!

Well, one of the over-decorated yards in our neighborhood is at a house that gives me shivers all the rest of the year too. It’s not haunted. It’s just not nice. The people who live there make a point of turning away as you approach, when everyone else smiles or pauses to chat. Their lawn is an unholy green in August with the tell-tale brown patches that betray there is no healthy life therein and the only thing propping it up is frequent infusions from Chem-Lawn. Their dogs are out in a kennel. And the Halloween decorations that aren’t completely plastic require power to inflate.

I mentioned the dogs to their next-door neighbor once and she told me she finally went over there one night around 11pm, in her pajamas, when their dogs had been barking non-stop. She knocked at the door, and the lady of the house appeared in the window, jutted out her lower lip and bobbled it with her finger–the poor-baby mime–and withdrew. Really? Holy shit.

When the gigantic Trump signs appeared in their windows on Insurrection Day, yes, that day, it was almost a foregone conclusion.
But they didn’t have the courage of their afflictions. The signs were down the next day. They had to figure in this neighborhood someone was liable to leave a Public Radio tote bag full of shit at their door. Or seed their lawn with arugula.
Also? We know real witches.