I’m kind of a sucker for holidays, and Halloween is right at the top for days created purely for fun.
As a kid, I was a gypsy, Cinderella, a monster in chains, and a mummy. The neighborhood where I grew up had very few kids, and a lot of residents either forgot about Halloween or skipped town when it was time for tots to trick or treat. So when I was old enough, I tagged along with my cousins, who were all about getting as much candy as they could. I was shocked when one of them collected for UNICEF and then kept the money. She represented the greedy business side of the holiday that horrified me more than the haunted houses we went to when we were teens.
Ah, the teen years. You’re officially too old to trick or treat, but it’s too much fun not to get dressed up, right? I remember the party my senior year of high school when I dressed up as Magenta and my high school boyfriend went as Riff-Raff. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was pretty big back then…So I got to wear heavy eye make-up and lipstick, a short maid’s outfit, and frizz out my long hair. Gaylan, who was going prematurely bald at 17, didn’t have to do much at all to be a dead ringer for the spooky butler. A bunch of our friends dressed as fruits and wore a white sheet that connected them. What were they? Fruit of the Loom underwear, of course.
When I was a kindergarten teacher, I made the mistake of wearing a vulture mask that an artist friend had made. After the first five-year-old burst into tears, I had to take it off for the rest of the day.
But over the years I sure had fun wearing costumes to work. I was a Beanie Baby, mustard (to my teaching partner’s ketchup), a court jester, the Swedish chef (the flim is okey-dokie), a pumpkin (that was the year I was pregnant), the Scarecrow (to my daughter’s Dorothy), Cruella de Ville (my daughter was a dalmatian), Miss Transylvania, and a cow.
One year my fellow first-grade teacher moved for her husband’s work shortly after the school year began. So we happened to be in the headmaster’s office interviewing candidates for the position on Halloween. Everyone else had taken off their costumes after the morning parade, but I hadn’t brought a change of clothes. So I tried to ask serious questions in my black cat costume.
I loved it when Halloween was on a Friday because then the kids wouldn’t be at school the day after when they were always tired from lack of sleep and sugar crashes. Monday Halloweens were hard on all of us…
Sometimes costumes show poor judgment. Back when I was teaching at the elementary school in Felton, I remember a sixth-grader who stuck a pillow up her dress and came as a pregnant teen. You gotta wonder if her mom saw what she wore out of the house that day…
Then there’s the weird mix of Disney-inspired pre-fab costumes and pop culture trends that result in a slew of Arabian princesses (a la Aladdin) and Spice Girls. And the boys were always ninjas and baseball players.
But there were those gems too: the girl who wore many purple balloons and came as a bunch of grapes and the boy who was a television set.
One year my teaching partner wore ordinary clothing but glued a baby doll to her bottom. She was Mrs. McTwitter of the Shel Silverstein poem:
Mrs. McTwitter the babysitter, I think she’s a little bit crazy
She thinks that the sitter is supposed to sit upon the baby!
Now that I’m not a teacher, I don’t have a reason to dress up, although I did attend one Halloween party this year. But since I was at a conference all day, I didn’t really have time to create an elaborate costume. So I stuck a binder on my head and went as a binder full of woman a la Mitt Romney. (Easy and topical!)
I am wearing my jack o’ lantern earrings to work today. They used to light up, but the batteries ran down long ago. However, my batteries still run, so I might as well have some fun.