Monday, October 6, 2008

On Halloween...

Ah, October! The crisp fall air, the smell of burning wood, and, for me, the most dreaded of all holidays: Halloween. I know, I know – there are those who love Halloween so much they get married on October 31st…on purpose. And clearly Halloween is so popular among the masses that Hollywood is on like, Sequel 26 of its original thriller of the same name. Michael Myers: stay in the ground. Please!

Anyway, Halloween and I just don’t get along. Okay, so I don’t like to be scared. I don’t like to dress-up. And quite frankly, I was not born with the creative genes necessary to pull off Halloween successfully in any way, shape or form.

Perhaps my ghosts of Halloweens past can illuminate the source of my Hallo-phobia. For instance, there’s the fact that as a child I dressed up as a hobo five years in a row. I’m not kidding. While I have a vague memory of this sad testament to my lack of creativity, lest I forget, there they are in the scant photo archives of my childhood. The conversation usually goes something like this.

Me: “Oh, here I am as a hobo, what year is this? “
Mom: “1977.”
Me: “Hmm…wait, here I am as a hobo with my ‘Mork & Mindy’ suspenders…”
Mom: “Yep, 1978.”
Me: “Hobo with creepy clown make-up?”
Mom: “1979, Honey...”

I was the third child, so while the photo albums of my older siblings take up yards of space, mine, mere feet. Sure, no memorable shots of my first steps, and yet five years of hobo. Good times.

For ghost number two, it’s important to mention that when forced into wearing a costume, I have forever thrived on finding the path of least resistance. I mean – you’ve gotta appreciate the sheer brilliance of “Wind-blown Guy” - a little hair spray to create a side Mohawk, and a wire hanger to direct your tie in the direction of the gale means your good to go. Or “Static Cling.” Finally, a purpose for all those socks that emerge from the dryer as singles, hanging around in the vain hope that one day its match will show up. And then there’s “Gum on the Bottom of a Shoe.” Just tie a sneaker on the top of your head and wear a pink shirt. Unless, of course, you decide to be Big Red. (from experience, on this last idea, I’d like to suggest modeling classes and a course of pre-emptive Advil).

All that being said, there was one year that my tattered list of excuses failed to spare me from braving one such celebratory party of pain. It was at my house. Yes, thanks to an overzealous roommate who wouldn’t listen to reason, we ended up hosting a party with invitations that featured the three most frightening words I know: “costume not optional.” I mapped out my do’s and don’ts: Don’t want to look like a dork. Do want to check off the costume “yes” box. Do want to minimize prep time, but still want to be as clever as the Halloween dysfunctional can get. So I’ve got it. My boyfriend dresses up like the local station’s weather man and me, I’m “Partly cloudy with a chance of rain.” My mother, for reasons unknown, had hung on to a vintage ‘80’s blue and white tie-dye outfit complete with a t-shirt clip to cinch the shirt to the side of the leggings. Nice. And the utter beauty of it all? Only a few clumps of cheap sewing batting were needed to finish the look. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, my boyfriend and I got in a huge fight that night and we broke up somewhere in the middle of the festivities. So there I was, walking around my own party, nothing more than an awkward forecast. Oh, with one update – chances of rain just got better.

As a mother, my contentious relationship with Halloween has only intensified. About two years ago, my oldest son, who was three at the time, dressed up as Elvis. This kid believes in committing to his character. After a sweaty night of party hopping, he threw up all over me, his mini blow-up guitar, and his glitzy polyester suit. I don’t even want to mention his shiny new shoes. It still brings a little tear to my eye…and sometimes, even a little nostalgic wretch. Truly astounding what can be expelled from so tiny a body.

But the plot thickens. Today, at five, my son Jack is dead-set on being Jango Fett from Star Wars, even though he has zero understanding of what happened a long time ago, in that galaxy far, far away. The costume comes with a blaster gun which serves as the perfect loophole to our “no guns allowed” rule and really, what more do you need to know? This in and of itself would be fine, but he’s now decided that a “family costume” is really the best idea he’s ever had. This means, of course, his little brother would be a perfect Baby Yoda, my husband would be the most menacing Darth Vader ever, and I, the ideal Princess Leia…because, well, let’s face it, there aren’t enough girl characters to go around. So let’s just forget every other Halloween I’ve ever had, because if this were to ever come to fruition, it would indeed be the most frightening holiday past, present or future. I assure you, if I could pull off a Princess Leia costume in any way other than disturbing, I’m pretty sure that I’d be rich, famous, or both.