Halloween is coming, which means our local grocery store has put out bulk candy and decorated for the holiday. I’d usually focus on the M&Ms, but the severed head hanging over the candy bags got me thinking.
It seemed, suddenly, like less of a surprising decor choice and more of a tangible symbol of excess, the constant bombardment of stuff. We don’t just consume Halloween candy, disposable naughty-cat costumes and window-cling ghosts, but we need a plastic severed head hanging from the ceiling to remind us that it’s time to buy those things.
Thinking about the layers of stuff reminds me that even my heavy-handed symbolism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. I didn’t look too closely (because, um… I did mention that it’s a plastic severed head, right?), but it seems to be injection molded plastic, which means someone designed the mold, and the paint. Do you think it went like this: Today, I have made my mark on the world, I designed a mold for plastic severed heads, and these heads will outlast me. Or maybe all those new hires in design are incompetent, so I got stuck redesigning the neck wounds. College kids come in and think they know everything, but it takes years in the field to really get that look of severed spine. Do you think, after that, someone else worked out that they could save 84 cents per dozen by making the plastic just a tiny bit thinner? And someone mixed a paint palette of dead-flesh colors.
A factory probably bid on a contract for plastic severed heads, and lost. Honey, I was thinking of going to Bali for our anniversary, but we lost the severed heads contract, so that’ll have to wait for next year. Maybe someone else was rejoicing over their new severed-heads prosperity.
Was it made, like everything else, overseas? Eric once had a job working for a packing and shipping company, I wonder if he designed any cartons for the most efficient shipping of plastic severed body parts. If it was made in China, I’m starting to understand the pointing and staring thing. I mean, I come from the land of mass-produced plastic severed heads, who wouldn’t stare?
And the head in a chain store, which makes me wonder if there’s a Halloween seasonal plan-o-gram with the placement of the severed head marked out on a photocopied sheet. Is there a variation for other floorplans? Does a larger store get a tier-two plan-o-gram with a second plastic severed head? Does an employee get scolded by home office for misplacing or incorrectly hanging the severed head? And do you think it’ll go into a box in someone’s office next month, to make room for Santa Claus?
I hope in the far distant future, when archeologists are looking at the ruins of our cities, that the plastic severed head is an artifact uncovered for the American civilization.