Monday, October 31, 2011

It All Comes Full Circle: Happy Halloween

I'm going to test your Halloween costume reading level. The following picture is:

a) clever/witty
b) stupid/ridiculous
c) glam and elegant
d) slutty
e) none of the above

The correct option is e) none of the above. Anytime a kid dresses up, as long as they aren't dressed wildly inappropriately (like a stripper or pack of cigarettes), the answer should always be f) cute. My cousin Kiri (left) and I (right) were dress-up pros. Halloween was naturally our time to shine. My friends and I also did some serious costuming, and though I don't have any pictures of our greatest outfits on my computer at the moment, I'll see if I can dig some up at home. Mine include but were not limited to: Groucho Marx, the requisite princess and witch, a baseball player, a bear (as in one of the three parts of "lions and tigers and..."), an alligator, a clown, etc. 

Our elementary school gang would traipse around the neighborhood in high spirits collecting bite-size bars and trying our best to be charming and cute at the door in hopes of being told to "take an extra few pieces." We walked around the neighborhood until our feet started to hurt or it started to rain, at which time our parents took their increasingly whiny cartoon characters or mermaids home. Or their robots, in the case of my friend Rufus at age five. He wore a box with doorbells pasted on out of which he could not see and his dad had to choose the candy for him as he said "trick or treat!" with an echo from inside the box. His mother held his hand and guided him down tricky front steps. Ah, youth.

In college, I did don my share of not quite trampy but still slightly skin-bearing costumes. It was fun--the ultimate excuse to be a little bit bad--but Halloween post-trick-or-treating age has always felt like more effort than it's worth (plus, you're garaunteed to end up in one of the categories a) through d), and by default those aren't as awesome as looking adorable as a little kid; costumes only go downhill after age 11 or 12). When I was a kid the holiday was a huge event, something special: how often did we get to hang out with friends on school nights and play dress-up for hours on end? It was a holiday with year-long anticipation, and weeks-long costume planning. It was thrilling. Now, Halloween is another night out, just in a weird outfit. It's no longer a big deal where I get to accompany my best friends down streets where I'm convinced a goblin lurks. 

As we grow up, we leave behind some novelty. But what we lose in novelty we gain in contributing to others' memories. It's a different kind of wonderful to be able to sit in a warm house on a Monday night and hand out candy to a little witch who looks a lot like you did as a five year-old. I guess Elton John was on to something with his "Circle of Life" ditty for the Lion King. And so are the little kids who dress up as Simba. Or as the Lion to my Bear. I can't wait to see the little ones trundle down the street this evening--I'll be sure to give the cute and charming ones extra candy. Just kidding. But seriously.

P.S. Devoted readers, what were your best costumes or funniest Halloween memories? Leave them in the comments, email them to, or tweet them to @char_is_wilder . Best ones get posted. Or, better yet, email or tweet me pictures of your best costumes (this year or past) and I'll post the winners!



    Food for thought!

  2. Wow, thanks for that! Great article...makes me feel good about buying Fair Trade give-out candy from Whole Foods this year!

  3. This was my Halloween in Edinburgh:

    This is the Samhuinn Fire Festival, a celtic festival marking the end of summer/beginning of winter.

  4. Oh my god, Mariah! That's insane...those costumes make the Blue Man Group look like wimps.

  5. This picture is seriously amazing! ;)


  6. haha thank you, cortnie. we certainly had style.


I'd love to hear from you. Just don't be mean.