5 Ways to Enjoy a Sober Halloween
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5 Ways to Enjoy a Sober Halloween


This post was originally published on October 31, 2014.

Halloween is the big bang start to the holiday drinking season for most healthy young Americans. And it’s been a tough one for me whenever I’ve gone to parties where revealing outfits and designer drugs made me question my sobriety. But I’ve survived all those sexy nurses and amateur partiers Halloween brings out and come out on the other side. Here are five sober suggestions for a good night based on some of the things I’ve done.

1) Find a funny cynical friend who doesn’t drink a lot.

I went to a Halloween party two or three years ago and remember feeling so relieved when I saw my buddy David there. Drive had just come out so there were Ryan Goslings everywhere and David was dressed as Steve Jobs, who had just died. David doesn’t drink much, if ever, and is one of the most cynical people I know. The reason this is relevant is that my cynical friends are usually the funniest and tend to believe they’re above social norms—which includes drinking. So at this giant house party where every girl was dressed like a clichéd bunny and every guy was wearing the Scorpion jacket from Drive, I was there dressed as a writer named Carlos Herrera standing in a corner with my friend David making fun of everyone. I don’t claim superiority over people who like to have fun and drink at a party but on this particular night, I enjoyed the company of a good friend who didn’t drink and we had our own party within a party.

2) Enjoy an empty movie theater while the whole city is out partying.

I don’t usually go see movies on Fridays or Saturdays because of the massive crowds and congested parking lots. But on Halloween, you can get no better a guarantee of parking for miles and legroom. Obviously, there’s nothing more un-cool in the eyes of alcohol-thirsty coeds and weekend warriors on a drinking holiday than sitting in a dark room for two hours watching a movie. Movies are generally date ideas from the 50s (or awful first date ideas if it’s me). But I love going to a theater close to midnight to see the last showing of the latest film; my closest friends know that if I ever had enough money, I would not hesitate to buy whole rows of seats just for me and them. So, while the city is out drinking and stuck in DUI checkpoint traffic, I say go see the latest movie and enjoy an open concession stand line.

3) Hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.

I’ve never done this one but I feel like if I lived in a neighborhood where kids trick-or-treated (or had children at all), I would get a lot of gratification from handing them candy. The truth is that participating in the community will force a smile on any miserable sober person’s face. One Halloween, I couldn’t make a huge party because I had to babysit and I had a blast putting the kid to sleep and watching Netflix. It can be very therapeutic to make the choice to not participate in activities that bring back memories of drinking.

4) Go to a meeting and fellowship.

In most cases, the answer to serenity is as simple as treating Halloween like any other day—and 12-steppers know that this can mean doing something as basic as going to a meeting. There are plenty of meetings still available, if not more, on holidays. Substance abuse is just the symptom of a much larger problem, which manifested itself in me as insecurity combined with a simultaneous better-than attitude that wasn’t compatible with reality. So I drank and did drugs to shut it up and function in society—until that caught up to me and stopped working. Continuing to act that way in sobriety is how I’ve almost gotten drunk and most definitely gotten miserable. I didn’t get sober to be miserable so meetings and fellowship have gone a long way for me. It’s the obvious answer and that’s usually the right one.

5) Go to a comedy club.

Just like movie theaters, comedy clubs are always empty on holidays—especially the big drinking ones. On a packed night in a showroom, comedy club waitresses are bogged down with drink orders, bills and unruly customers. On a night like Halloween, those waitresses are bored in the back of the room waiting to take people’s orders and get out of there. The comedians are also very happy to have any audience since they know that holidays and sports playoffs are killers for comedy clubs. Enjoy the extra legroom and lack of drunken hecklers and have fun. The best comedy sets I’ve seen have always been in small intimate rooms or deserted showrooms where the comedian isn’t playing to a huge audience that needs broad references and giant act-outs to guarantee laughs. Small audiences bring a more honest approach—something you’ll definitely notice before you go outside to see the holiday celebrants puking in the streets.

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About Author

Carlos Herrera is a comedian, photographer and writer whose work can also be found on The Fix . He has been featured in LA Weekly and has performed at The Hollywood Improv among other places.