Thursday, October 30, 2008
Things That Go Bump in the Night
Remember when your mom sewed your Halloween costume and your choices were limited to witch, gypsy, hobo or cowboy? If mom was too tired to whip out the ole Singer, you could always grab the scissors and raid the linen closet for the fall back Charlie Brown ghost get up. This was still kind of cool because your only other option was buying the creepy plastic Cartoon masks with minuscule air holes and matching tie on paper suits from the dime store, which was like trick or treating naked in a hospital gown with no oxygen. After hours of hyperventilating toxic fumes in your Casper mask and shoving countless pieces of candy corn through the tiny plastic mouth hole, you were lost in a Halloween stupor no Hannah Montana costumed child of today could match.
My mother and grandmother worked for weeks one year sewing on a red satin jumpsuit with a long sequined tail and skullcap with horns complete with matching trident. I can’t remember now if I asked to be a devil for Halloween or my parents were just trying to tell me something, either way I wore it with pride in a costume contest at school. I decided at the last minute to outshine my fellow less provocative costumed classmates by parading across stage swinging my tail and chanting the old Flip Wilson line, “The devil made me do it!” I won hands down. Aaaaah the good ole politically and religiously incorrect days of Halloween, before the slick on-line costume mega stores, “Fall holiday” school parties, and church carnivals with kids dressed as Abraham and Sarah.
When did we get so spooked about Halloween? I think it’s healthy that we have a holiday where we trot out our fears and parade around to make light of the things that go bump in the night. Americans are generally uneasy when it comes to talking about things that we fear, unless of course you work at Fox Network and it’s a presidential election year and the state of the economy seems scarier than Jack Nicholson in The Shinning. The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines fear as “anxious concern,” which at present we have plenty of. But what if we realized that most of our fears are unfounded? What if we remembered that when we shine knowledge and light on our fears and face them rather than fuel them, they vanish like the bogeyman in the closet who is never there when you finally get your nerve up to crawl out of bed and throw open the door.
My devil costume is packed away in moth balls somewhere, the Casper mask long gone, is now selling for big bucks on e-bay. Since I have not touched a sewing machine since that disastrous vest experiment in 7th grade home ec. I will try to come up with a creative ensemble involving handy hem and duck tape that won’t embarrass my Wal-mart costumed clad sons too badly this Halloween. I was thinking of going as Sarah Palin, but I can't afford her wardrobe. Since it only involves a sheet and some scissors, I could just just pull a Charlie Brown and hope I don't get rocks. As long as I cut my air holes big enough and remember to breathe I’ll be o.k. And if I start hyperventilating between now and November 4th, I'll just scarf all the Halloween chocolate and breathe into my paper candy sack. I'm not scared.