Remember how boys used to just Trick or Treat as hobos in outsized jackets with coal smeared on their faces and pillowcases to stash the goodies in? My sister Nan and I went out as hobos ourselves, but we weren’t your typical little girls. For one interesting period, she used a dead cat in an alley as a departure point for a whole series of lectures on decomposition and the Mortuary Arts. We’d visit that poor Flat Stanley of a thing the way pilgrims visit a shrine. We would have Trick-or-Treated carrying it around with us if we’d been just a little more daring.
But to get back to the customs regarding boys’ costumes:
Have they ever changed! These days males of every age are willing to don costumes as elaborate as the girls’. They’ll be going out dressed to the nines, as Transformers or Power Rangers, as classically tragic bad guys like Darth Vader, eyeless and wheezing inside his giant black helmet. Some may even show up as poor old Nixon in that hideous mask Christina Ricci wore in The Ice Storm’s middle school sex scene.
And the point will be what it’s always been: To startle. To counter expectation.
We had a good friend back in the day. Didn’t smoke. Didn’t drink. Took old bikes from the dump, fixed them up good as new and gave them to kids who didn’t have bikes. On the Halloween immediately following some madman’s murder of several people by slipping poison into some Tylenol bottles, this friend took his kids around for Trick or Treat, himself dressed as…..a giant Tylenol capsule. He was actually surprised when another dad offered to punch his lights out.
THAT escapade countered all our expectations.
Partying indoors on Halloween will of course reduce your chance of getting punched – and you can still surprise your friends, as when the dedicated beer guzzler comes as a Mormon elder, or the biggest Don Juan in the group comes as the Pope.
I never went in for a super-girlie look; never wore makeup. But for one Halloween party we threw, I came as Cher, in heavy mascara, a leopard skin body-stocking and a giant wig exploding in cascades of inky curls. I looked ridiculous. It was great. And Old Dave dressed like Sonny and looked even better in a peasant shirt, baggy harem pants and a Prince Valiant wig. He actually looked more like the early John Denver, or Moe of Three Stooges than either of those two, but still – he SEEMED to himself as Sonny Bono.
And that’s the fun of Halloween, getting to seem like someone else for a while.
Maybe I’ll dress up myself tomorrow night. I like this costume quite a bit. And what’s nicer than dining out on one of your major holidays?