November 01, 2011

Halloween in Boston

After the American Century

In the Halloween streets of Boston costumes. Dracula in the subway, a cowboy in the diner, and a gypsy in the bookstore. Free candy at almost every cash register, and even in a serious office a bit of playful clothing, an odd hat, flashing electric earrings or a wild orange tie.

Whatever may be wrong with the US economy, whatever fears may clutch at the heart (or the wallet), Americans still know how to be playful and a little crazy. There is an edge, and it is not getting dull.

This playfulness should not suggest frivolity, for it is the flip-side of the energy and drive that Americans pass down through the generations. Yes, there are problems, and I write about them here in this space often enough. But there is no lack of enthusiasm and shared good humor nevertheless.

OK, this is just Halloween, but the levity is a sign of good mental health, despite the bitterness about the banks, despite the partisan politics, despite the 9% unemployment, and despite the weight of individual difficulties. Walking around the city today was a reminder that the country is far more than the sum of its problems.