Costumes and Other Scary Things

October 31, 2012

I know bunches of adults who adore Halloween. They start working on costumes in August and tell people about the intricacies of the assembly (“I stayed up until 3am glueing feathers”) without revealing the costume itself.

It makes me mad and excited. I spend time pondering the mystery costume for weeks: Are they a bird?  A showgirl? An indian, sorry, Native American?

Creativity always gets a little weird and obscure on Halloween. I talked to a friend last night who told me about the year she dressed as Anne Boleyn.  I laughed so hard. Who wouldn’t guess the second wife of Henry VIII that launched the English Reformation!? It’s so relevant and obvious!

I super-love when people dress up as obscure characters and then get offended when no one gets it.   I usually pretend not to get it just to test the emotional investment of the costume.


Costumed person #2:What do you mean you don’t get it!? I’m a sexy nun!

Me: “Yes, but isn’t that a little contradictory? I thought a habit was supposed to, you know, cover things.”

Costumed person #2 : [looking at me with disgust] It’s ironic.

Me: Ohhhh. I get it now. Irony is the new creativity. Maybe next year I’ll wear a bedazzled turtleneck and call myself a conservative go-go dancer…. or… better yet….come as myself and call it “clean cut Jack Sparrow”

Costumed person: [walked away a long time ago]

I guess Halloween is just an annual pop quiz of our historical and pop culture knowledge. Perhaps someday I will dress up as one of the Republican primary candidates from the 1976 presidential election. That will really make a lot of people feel stupid. I can’t wait.

Honestly, I am super lazy with costume planning. Most years I assemble a costume with articles from Goodwill, duct tape, and plastic recyclables. It makes me feel hipster to be so resourceful on Halloween.

One year, Mike and I went a little crazy and wore outfits we stored in the back corners of our closet. We called ourselves “the Vegas newlyweds.”

Don’t get too excited. Mike’s mustache was an artistic masterpiece created from eye liner. I mean, it is not a real costume until a dude puts on makeup, right!?

I don’t get all jazzed up for Halloween mostly because I was raised in one of those households that called Halloween “Satan’s Holiday.”  That scared me straight.

In fact, I remember telling my 3rd grade teacher that I wasn’t allowed to celebrate Halloween and she replied, “Oh…. Well, will your parents let you celebrate Valentine’s Day?” She was serious.  I had to go home and ask my mom if I was allowed to have fun ever again. Did Satan own any other holidays? I needed to emotionally prepare.

Instead of trick-or-treating, every year my siblings and I went to a Fall Festival at our church, which provided opportunities to dress up as bible characters and still get candy.  To be honest, I think candy kept me in church until I was twelve. Take that Satan!

Fall Festival was great because every year I killed it on the cake walk. Seriously. It was a supernatural gift.

My only complaint about Fall Festival was the costume selection. Every year the boys had so many cool biblical costumes to choose from: David the lion-slaying shepherd, the three wise men, Moses with a cool staff, Abraham with a long beard, Jacob with his multi-colored coat, or even Lazarus, the church-friendly zombie. I think one year my brother went as a sheep from the nativity scene. That is hysterically funny to me now.  My parents were so biblically creative.

Girls, on the other hand, had only two options: Queen Esther or the virgin Mary. ….Snooze……You can’t glue feathers on either.

Now, as an adult, I’m both confused and intrigued by the holiday.  As I write this, the barista across the room from me is dressed up as “dead something,” a term I made up to define 40% of Halloween costumes.  The remaining 60% is reserved for “slutty something” (25%), “pop culture something” (20%), “Disney something” (10%), and “no-one-gets-it something” (5%). Those percentages are totally arbitrary and I just pray they add up to 100%.

The thing is, I hate being scared. I refuse to watch scary movies and have developed an infantile definition of “scary.”  The top offenders on my scary list are :

  1. Chitty-chitty Bang Bang (the child catcher is terrifying)
  2. Pirates of the Carribean 2 & 3 (why so many snakes!?)
  3. Taken (terrifyingly realistic, but I want Liam Neeson as my personal bodyguard)

The reason these movies made the list is because, above all else , I hate being surprise-scared. I easily avoid all of the overtly scary movies that feature Satan or clowns, but I get really upset when a perfectly good movie is ruined with surprise scariness. I think normal people call this suspense. Either way, I feel betrayed.

That’s why adult Halloween is still unnerving to me…. not because of the obvious scariness, but because of the surprise scariness, like the “dead something” barista across from me.  It seemed unfair to encounter this first thing in the morning. I wasn’t sufficiently caffeinated or emotionally prepared, which is really the crux of all of my life problems.

So to all friends and potential movie makers out there: have fun with your costumes, be “Disney something” or “dead something” or both, but please, I’m begging you: don’t be surprise scary.

If you are wearing a costume, shoot me a text beforehand or let’s coordinate a run-in where I can view you from a distance (like three city blocks) before we converse. The distance allows me time to emotionally prepare for the approaching terror.

Thanks for your consideration.  Happy Halloween.

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