Who Are You Going to Be?
Who doesn’t want to be a princess? When you’re six at least. And since my mother had insisted to my sister Nina and me that we definitely, truly, really had not been secretly deposited on her doorstep by some royal family who was going to come back for us, some day, I had to be satisfied with showing my princessy heritage for Halloween. This, Mom agreed to.
It’s the first Halloween costume I remember. Mom took a big piece of silver poster board, and twisted it into a cone. She punched a tiny hole in each side, and ran a thin black elastic strip through the holes. The she got some kind of scarf, a long floaty princessy scarf, and poked it through the hole at the top of my cone hat.
I was enchanted, entranced. Here I was, a chubby little girl with dark curly hair, transformed, transformed, into a princess, with the perfect pointy princess hat with the scarf that would trail glamorously behind me.
But that was not all. My fabulous costume also included a shiny pink shower curtain, a translucent sheet of thin plastic with a twisty raised pattern of huge pink roses. My mother stapled a pink ribbon in two corners, and tied the ribbon around my neck. (Yes, no, this would not have happened much later than the fifties, but obviously I didn’t choke and die.)
With my fabulous pink cape and my fabulous pointy hat with the floaty scarf, I swooped around the neighborhood, door to door, collecting--what? Beemans Gum, and what was that other kind? Teaberry! And Chuckles, and Butterfingers, and those candy bars that had five separate different kinds of fillings. And they were called…ah. Can’t remember.
Anyway, the years went by, the candy became less important, but the costumes became more important. There was a big too-cool lull in high school, sneery and dismissive when my little brother and sister dressed up.
But then college. And the opportunity for revealing and inappropriate outfits disguised as perfectly-acceptable Halloween costumes began to present itself. One particular college year’s Halloween party had been deemed a “dress-as-your-favorite song” event. I thought about dyeing a sheet black and wearing it, ghost-like, and going as “She’s Not There” (Who sang that? Anyone?)
But in the end, Marjorie Hallihan and I put on black tights and black leotards (a key element of the innocent “it’s just a costume” excuse—you saw Mean Girls, right?) and attached handprints all over us. What song were we? Touch Me, by the Doors.
Oh, we were subtle college girls.
My mother does not know about this, even now, so please don’t mention it.
There was another big Halloween lull as I entered the real world of work. Perhaps the job of dressing for real work every day was daunting enough. But eventually, this dressing up for Halloween thing seems somehow to have returned, at my work and in my outside-of-work life. (And apparently in others peoples’, too, since I read somewhere that adults spending for Halloween has skyrocketed in recent years.)
Several years ago—gosh, no, it was longer ago than that-- I convinced my boyfriend at the time that we should go as Edward VII and Wallis Simpson. I wore a long navy blue dress, and he wore a dark suit and we both had red-ribbon sashes (like beauty contest sash, you know?) with a glittery brooch-like thing holding them together at our waists. I had a tiara. (I always grab any excuse to wear a tiara.) I thought this was a terrific idea, cool and subtle, but of course we spent the entire evening explaining who we were.
And even then, partygoers then being who they were, even when we explained it, they still often had no idea. Fine. I liked it. (Thinking about it now, maybe it was the wannabe-a-princess thing again.)
Another year, I did the leotard and tights thing again—but brown. I took a plastic dry cleaning bag, and filled it with torn up pieces of brown and orange paper. Then I stepped into it, and tied it around my neck. (Anther motif, I now see.) I got some markers and a piece of shirt cardboard and made a tag, put it on a string, and attached that round my neck, too. (ooh.)
I was a teabag.
(Constant Comment, which my boyfriend-at-the-time mentioned (a few too many times) he thought was appropriate.)
Oh, another year, my then-boyfriend (a different one) and I got several pieces of poster board, and made a huge cone. The hole in the top of the cone was big enough to put both our heads through. Then we took some pieces of two-by-fours, and made a table-like thing, which we covered with a red and white checked cloth. We put the cone on the cloth. Covered the cone with cooked spaghetti (a long and complicated story that has to do with glue and thread.)
So are you with me here? It looked like a huge plate of spaghetti on a table in an Italian restaurant. (Sort of.)
Then we got cotton balls, and covered two paper bags with them. Then we spray-painted the ball-covered bags with red and brown spray paint. We punched two eye-holes in each bag, put them over our heads, tied them around our necks (ooh) and put the whole spaghetti shebang over us.
So we were a plate of meatballs and spaghetti on a table.
How we got this contraption TO the party is way too long to discuss. Suffice it to say it consisted of a lot of rope, the top of a car, and some very slow driving. Dancing at the party was essentially impossible.
No pictures exist.
A couple of years ago, Jonathan and I went as the Arks, Joan and Noah. Some people got it, some people didn’t.
I do have photos of that. Alas, lost. But imagine me in chain mail (sequins) (and a leotard (ooh) and boots and big gloves and a fleur de lis flag) and Jonathan in a shepherd-looking hood robe (okay, fine it was a monk's robe) carrying a staff and a lot of stuffed animals. Two of each kind.
The next year, we were pressed for costumes, so Jonathan added a cowboy hat and a red neckerchief, I added the neckerchief and changed my flag --we were Noah and Joan of Arkansas.
This year, seeing as how I am on page 108 of my new book, and was also on page 108 last week, we are not dressing up for Halloween. I hear cute 5-year old Molly next door is going to be a princess.
Ah. That is how it all starts. And I am going to see if I can help with the hat.
What’s your favorite costume ever? Who are you going to be this year? There’s still time…
(PS: Holly! I love the banner! Thank you!)