Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hallowe'en Heaven and Hell

I don't like Hallowe'en. Don't get me wrong, it's not a religious objection or personal problem. I love watching other people get dressed up and prepare for a party. I simply hate the pressure of coming up with a costume idea and then executing that idea in an acceptable way. Being Mary's favorite "holiday", I am often expected to play along and accompany her to various celebrations, something which for me is occasionally enjoyable but often excruciating.

So, you ask, did I experience some Hallowe'en trauma as a child? Did someone at school steal my Batman mask or ridicule my costume? Not that I can remember. Did I bite into an apple with a hidden razor-blade (never!) or eat a LSD-laced Snicker's Bar (I wish!). No traumas, no major embarassments, nothing comes to mind, only a sense that even thinking about it makes me feel exhausted.

Perhaps I'm simply not a born actor. I loathe workshops which entail "role-plays", and although I can do some fairly decent accent imitations, I never revel in that ubiquitous notion that a costume allows one to be someone else for a few hours. For me, once in costume, I just feel and act like my usual self, albeit with face-paint and unusual clothing. Maybe the surrealistic nature of being dressed as a pirate while chatting over wine and cheese about work with someone dressed as the Statue of Liberty makes me somewhat uncomfortable. While my wife revels in such events and can stay "in character" for hours, evoking raucous laughter and admiring compliments, I stick to the sidelines and ponder my Merlot or talk quietly with other wallflowers who feel equally at a loss, our grease-paint smearing unattractively as we unconsciously itch our noses or rub our eyes.

When our son was young, there was nothing I liked more than the excitement of helping him put together a costume, prepare for the ritual of trick-or-treating, and then wander the neighborhood, waiting patiently at the foot of each driveway like a good parent should, yelling at him in vain to use the sidewalk rather than cut across people's lawns and trample their dying annuals. So many Hallowe'ens in New England are cold and rainy, adding to the comfort when, exhausted, we would come back to the house and dump his bag on the table, examining the treasures, me stealing Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with impunity, and Mary making off with those miniature Snickers Bars. That was Hallowe'en Heaven---spending it with a young son who reveled in his costumes and the rituals of the season, just like his fun-loving mother.

Now, in my forties, costumes are basically anathema, but marital devotion (and a love of peanut butter cups) keeps me in the game---with grave reservations. Luckily, I'm off the hook tonight as Mary goes out to the wildest party in the area with her best girlfriend, dressed as an ersatz Thelma and Louise, all gaudy jewelry, fake birth marks on rouged cheeks, clunky heels from the Salvation Army, and a crass attitude well worthy of their costumes.

So, dear Readers, if any of you are reveling this weekend in such a way, may you reap the rewards of your costume's charms, and may your favorite sweets rain like so much manna from Heaven.

Happy Hallowe'en.
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