I have always considered myself a creative person. And feedback from others seems to support this conclusion. I suppose the possibility exists that I am told, “That’s very…creative,” when the subtext is, in fact, “That’s INSANE and I’m afraid to anger you with an honest response lest you go into a psychotic rage.”
Either way, my imagination (if I, indeed, have one), seems to fail me when it comes to Halloween costumes. Either I cannot come up with a ANYTHING, or I conjure up an ensemble that completely and utterly baffles people.
Years ago, for instance, for the Genetic Research Halloween party, I printed a bunch of white business cards. Right the middle, in a small and (I thought) appropriately characteristic font, I printed the word “Ennui.” My acting chops were decent in those days, and I think I did a very fine interpretation of “Ennui.” No one (with the exception of my dear friend, Boom Boom) understood it AT ALL.
Then there was the last Halloween costume I created (prior to this Halloween, I should say). I was Antarctica. I took a very large white sheet, cut a hole for my head, and donned it over a white turtleneck. This created an excellent and vast white continental expanse. Then I added the indigenous fauna. For this I did RESEARCH. Then I purchased a number of little plush penguins and two varieties of seals, which I safety-pinned onto the sheet in an area which I though seemed like the “coastline.” I skipped the lice and midges, etc. I also skipped the flora entirely (you know – lichens, algae, moss). I didn’t want to interrupt the whole characteristic “ice-storm” and barren vastness impression. I was pleased to have come up with what I presumed was rather a unique design.
I went to a party in this garb. No one got it. I even tried to MAKE some people guess what I was. It was a painful process that took many broad hints to elicit ANY success. Humiliating.
I wondered, in retrospect, if some very tiny research stations and a few minuscule people trekking with little sleds across the most immense and “barren” portion of the continent would have made things more clear. Probably not. And they certainly would have made it uncomfortable to sit down.
So, this year I did not have any high hopes for Halloween inspiration, nor did I have plans that made a costume mandatory. However, I was expecting some of my most FAVOURITE trick-or-treaters. And, because I thought it might be fun for them (?), I actually concocted something. I’ll elaborate in a further entry, because I want to prepare the appropriate accompanying pictures.
Unfortunately, my back and my neck were feeling especially wonky on Halloween (that IS the very scientific medical term, in case you were wondering, and I would know because I’ve worked in the industry). It’s not unusual for my back and neck to BE wonky, but my usual tricks weren’t seeming to improve the…wonkiness. I realized that the symptoms had worsened since – YES – I fell down on Sunday (and NO, I will not discuss how I fell UP the stairs rather than down and the resultant bruises are not up for debate).
I worked throughout the day to improve my range of motion. Finally, at about 5:30 I decided to direct a hot shower onto the area. I should mention that, as I was to be the sole guardian of the trick-or-treat treats and answering the door, I had not only left the porch light off, I was keeping the entire front of the house DARK. When I was young, Halloween had RULES. And these statutes were very clear.
If the porch light was off, you DID NOT ring the doorbell or knock on the door. This was because:
Obviously, some percentage of new-fangled, “modern” children have not been schooled in proper Halloween etiquette. Thus, as I stepped from the guest room shower and put on a towel that somewhat LACKED in the complete coverage department (my Kingdom for one of my BATH SHEETS), I heard the doorbell ringing. And ringing. And ringing some more. Then I heard fearsome knocking.
On the off-chance that it was some of my most FAVOURITE trick-or-treaters, I thought I’d check the peep-hole; if it was them, I could crack the door, tell them to give me thirty seconds to leave and go get a robe and that they could come on in (when I’d disappeared). As I should have suspected, the porch was covered with COMPLETE STRANGERS (I NEVER should go to the door in completely or semi-inappropriate attire – it’s NEVER the people I’m expecting). In the moments I squinted through the peep-hole trying (IN THE DARKNESS, CHILDREN) to discern who it was, I heard them make the following comments:
UUUHHH! Why don’t they answer the door? What are they doing? Whey aren’t they getting the door? What is the deal? What’s their problem?? THEY ARE WASTING OUR TRICK-OUR-TREAT TIME!!!
It was that last comment that emboldened me. HEAVEN FORBID I should waste their valuable trick-or-treat time, even if they were recklessly and WANTONLY flaunting the rules of appropriate Halloween decorum. So I thought I’d, perhaps, SCARE them.
I grabbed the scary papier-maché pumpkin head containing the “treats,” ensconced myself behind the door, opened it and thrust the pumpkin outside (it really is a rather frightening serving implement; you have to stick your hand into the gaping maw of a this hideous faux gourd and pull the treats from it’s dark interior WHERE ITS GUTS SHOULD BE). I mumbled something about how I’d been in the process of “fixing my back”; I’m sure they couldn’t have cared less. One girl did say, “You probably should get dressed before the next people come.” Hmmm – really? DUH!!! I did feel that at this time I should probably allay their fear that I was behind the door COMPLETEY NAKED. “I’m wearing a TOWEL,” I said defensively. One of the other kids responded, “It’s your costume – ha ha.” As they exited the scene in record time considering there were about seventeen of them and they all had to get their candy THEMSELVES, I attempted some droll comment about my “lady just out of the shower” costume. They did not hear this witty remark, as they were already sprinting towards the next abode, which, I hope, had a darkened porch light so that they wasted MORE precious “trick-or-treat” time in a futile attempt to get someone to the door, when, in their ignorance, they were needlessly flouting the sacred laws of Halloween.
I did successfully resist the temptation to lecture them on CORRECT Halloween protocol. Moreover, I also refrained from sqandering even MORE of their valuable “trick-or-treat” time by giving them a lecture on the origins of Halloween and holding them hostage until they’d identified at least ONE other tradition “related” to Halloween that is currently practiced on or near them same day (I would have accepted All Saint’s Day, All Soul’s Day (or even All Hallow’s Eve as an alternate to either of those), Dia De Los Muertos, Samhain, or even Guy Fawkes Night*). I wouldn’t have considered the fact that I had previously seen a “Halloween” special on The History Channel a few days earlier, bolstering my recollection of many facts and adding some festive new tidbits, at ALL inequitable, taking into consideration that these children were infringing on respectful Halloween customs, AND I WAS BASICALLY NAKED.
Tomorrow I will elaborate on my second and intentional 2006 Halloween costume (which was not without malfunctions and FAILURES).
*Perhaps, in honour of the fairly large percentage of my Euro-Mutt heritage originating in the British Isles, I will from now on just skip Halloween and hold out for Guy Fawkes Night. Burning a straw man in effigy sounds like LOADS of fun. And I believe that with the correct precautions that even I could perform this ritual without harm to myself or others. Probably.