The people in my neighborhood love Halloween as well. Around the corner from the house I share with my husband, they set up giant inflatable spiders, bats and vampires. Last year they had a Frankenstein’s monster. They invite the neighbors to come to their region of sidewalk. Everyone passes a pleasant evening giving candy to little kids in adorable costumes. Wine is involved.
The neighbors are making good memories. Maybe this is a part of my love for Halloween. My most vivid recollections from my childhood are all about Halloween. Not Christmas, not birthdays. I should research whether dressing up in a costume makes a moment distinct in the brain. Or it could be that I love to slip into another identity.
One of my favorite costumes was classic and easy. The hobo costume! I wore one of my older brother’s cheap suits, took a pillowcase and tied it on a stick. I burnt a cork to blacken my face like I had a beard. After I saw Emperor of the North, a movie about riding the rails, I wanted to be Lee Marvin. Yes, I was an unusual child. Other little girls dream of being Disney princesses. I wanted to be Lee Marvin. Adventure and constant motion called to me.
Another favorite costume sat on the other end of the spectrum: elaborate and hard to wear. I was a butterfly. I took a sheet and painted a colorful pattern. I used the pieces of old umbrellas to give form to my wings. I had to go through doors sideways.
But I digress. The hard-to-wear costume I mentioned? My friend dressed up as “punk-in.” He wore a black motorcycle jacket, jeans and heavy boots. He also wore a giant pumpkin on his head. I do mean large. The thing must have weighed a hundred pounds before it was hollowed out. It was a great costume, but he had to spend all night with his head inside a scraped-out gourd. I think it was kind of a drag for him. Smelly.
That particular Halloween (in Boston, btw) I also had a great costume. I did myself up as Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant used widely in the Vietnam War. (I know I am dating myself.) I bought a jumpsuit made of that waxy, tough paper and spray-painted it orange. I wrote, “Warning, toxic agent,” on the back with a sharpie and covered all my skin with bright orange greasepaint. I looked like one of the droogs from A Clockwork Orange, only my jumpsuit was not white. Appropriate, no?
Sorry. I have no pictures. This was pre-smart phone. People didn’t photographically document their lives as much back then. I wish I had a picture, though.
What are your best Halloween memories? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.