My complete lack of interest is probably partly, if not entirely, fed by my own childhood experiences. My mom was a total washout in the costume department. I remember being about five things when I was a kid, all of them lame. The year I was seven it was so bad that I didn’t even have a costume, per se. She pulled out a blue tartan kilt and cape she’d bought me during a previous summer vacation to Bermuda and said, “There. You’re Mary, Queen of Scots.” Because I was kind of a weird kid, I knew who that was (sort of), but seriously—what the fuck?The last year I recall actually even trick or treating at all was the year I was in 7th grade. All the girls in my class (about 7 of us) spent the night at someone’s house and we didn’t so much go trick or treating, as go out and see what kind of trouble we could get in. Being the kind of kid I was, that wasn’t much, as it turned out. About the only thing of note that happened was when we were spraying Silly String on the playground at the local elementary school, and a flashlight beam came out of nowhere and pinned us. The guy behind it said, “Stop—police.” And my friend Sarah—for reasons that she has never been able to articulate—shot back, “Who you jivin’?” and the cop replied, “I ain’t jivin’.” Oh shit.
Turned out they were looking for kids who were actually tagging with spray paint. When they saw that all we had was Silly String, and that we had no idea who the spray painters were, and hadn’t seen them, they let us go. And that was pretty much the end of my career as a juvenile delinquent.I was able to all but ignore Halloween from about 1982 until fairly recently. About the only thing I’d do was give out candy (and hey, seventh grade boys—here’s a tip: don’t go out in the same outfit you wore to school, ring doorbells and hold out your bag for candy with a disaffected grunt. Show a little spirit and put some effort into it, or you can just get your candy from someone else’s house; you won’t be getting any of my Snickers Fun Size, you little assholes. If you’re too embarrassed to say it, you’re too old to do it), and possibly attend the occasional adult Halloween party. I’m not a complete toad—I’d dress up. I remember one year I went as a teenager, which necessitated me buying the first copy of Seventeen magazine I’d had since I was seventeen. You know, to see what the kids were wearing.
But then I started having my own kids, and of course they wanted in on this free candy thing, so I was forced to participate again. This time I went to the other extreme, and started making all their costumes from scratch.Let me tell you about that. Making a costume from scratch sounds awesome and supportive and dedicated. In reality it is stupid and expensive and stressful. One year I made my four kids’ costumes and ended up spending over SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS on the fabric, patterns, notions, what have you. Six hundred bucks! And I was making shit like Pokemon. I had two kids who wanted to be Pokemon that year, but of course they didn’t want to be the one they actually sell the pattern for (his name is Pikachu, if you care, or if you have an eight year old boy and it therefore means something to you). They wanted to be these other bizarre ones that look like lizards and shit, and for which of course you can’t just go out and buy a pattern. So not only did I have to make them, I had to make them up. Three years in a row I spent the weekend before Halloween in tears, swearing to God we weren’t going to do this again next year (so I was a little slow in actually doing it).
So this year we did buy costumes. Now I see part of the benefit of not buying them costumes. When I’m making them, they can’t possibly wear them until they’re done (which was usually October 30th at 10:30 p.m.). This year they’ve had them for two weeks, and already they’ve wanted to wear them to about six different places. Mean, mean Mommy refuses to allow this. Know why? I’ll tell you—it’s because if I let them wear them to the zoo, the park, the grocery store, and every other place they wanted to wear them for the 30 days prior to Halloween, at 3 p.m. on October 31st, they would announce that they were bored with whatever costume they’d been wearing for the last month, and that they wanted to be, “something else.” This would cause me to lose my grip on what’s left of my precious, fragile sanity.So clearly this is a no win situation. I either stress myself out emotionally and financially, or I spend a month being stressed out because I have to keep refusing to allow them to go to every event dressed as a wizard or Dead Man Rocking (a sort of zombie rock star—don’t ask) because they’d get bored and/or ruin the costume and then have nothing to wear on Halloween proper. About the only thing I can do at this point is just wait until they claim to be too old for such foolishness. Which should take about six more years.
I know when my kids are grown up, there are things I will miss—I already miss that my daughter no longer refers biscuits as “bistiks,” and that one of my twins no longer has that adorable baby lisp that caused him to say things like “fwosting” instead of “frosting.” But I refuse to miss the mayhem around Halloween. I’ve been over it for about thirty six years now.