October 31, 2004

tales of halloween past and present

Happy Halloween, everybody! Here's hoping you are all enjoying a candy-filled holiday weekend. I'm not doing anything Halloween-related today (although some of the dust bunnies I will be battling soon are certain to be quite scary).

I'm debating whether I should go out and buy some candy. The past two years, NO ONE rang my bell even though I stocked up on goodies. The first year, I was eating fun-sized Three Musketeers and Hershey bars for weeks (okay, days) afterwards. Last year I bought candy that I don't like so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat it if no one came a-knockin'. Sure enough, no one rang the bell and I got stuck with lollipops and some other stuff that I don't care for. I can't remember the exact candy but I can say for sure that it wasn't Mary Janes. I HATED getting Mary Janes as a kid. I don't know that I ever even ate one but the wrapper was so ugly with that mustard and red coloring. Tres unappealing.

Truthfully, I never had first-hand experience with this candy but the information that it was bad was passed down to me by others. That was enough for me to stay away. Kinda like Ishtar.

Speaking of Ishtar, I once found myself trapped in a room where it was being shown. When I first got together with THE EX (who was a good 6 years my junior), we were watching television with her younger brother. He was flipping through the channels and settled on Ishtar for whatever reason. Maybe he was intrigued by the sight of Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman covered in sand. I just don't know. So needless to say, THE youthful EX and her brother had no idea about the reputation of this film. I found myself giving them a little lesson in notoriously bad movies -- Heaven's Gate, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Staying Alive, etc. I summarized the lecture by informing them that one mustn't watch these movies to verify the awfulness -- one just has to take history's word for it. And then we ended up watching something with Kevin Costner in it. Sigh... Thankfully it wasn't Waterworld or The Postman.

But back to Halloween. My younger sister had a Halloween party the other night and it was AWESOME. She's 5'11" and her roommate is about 6-7 inches shorter so they made quite the striking couple as Popeye and Olive Oyl. The costumes were all outrageous, save for the one girl dressed like a slutty angel. Although, she did throw off bets by not dressing like a slutty nurse.

I had no idea what I was going to be but inspiration hit on Thursday night. After work on Friday, I visited K-mart, Target and Modell's in search of a toy tennis racket and an Adidas track suit. I found neither. I have Adidas track pants but they're swishy-sounding and didn't fit the bill. I wanted those soft fabric ones. Modell's was my last stop so I ended up buying a tight-fitting velour Juicy knockoff sweatsuit. It's ridiculously fabulous. I also picked up an Adidas headband. I wanted the toy tennis racket so that I could smash it into oblivion but, alas, no stores had any. So I dug out my really old racket and took a knife to the strings. I tried breaking the frame but it was surprisingly resilient. I did manage to knock a bunch of books off the shelf in the process though. Can you see where I'm going with this?

I put on the jogging suit and laughed hysterically at the sight of me in this ghetto fabulous get up. I stuck on a pair of Stan Smiths and pulled the headband down over my hair creating a puffy mass of curls at the top and bottom. With smashed racket in hand, I was John McEnroe's doppelgänger. If the weather was warmer, I would have worn really tight white shorts but it was far too nipply outside. I spent the evening throwing fake tantrums and screeching, "You CANNOT be serious." I should have brought an article reporting his atrocious CNBC ratings and Tatum O'Neal's new tell-all to complete the picture. Maybe next year.

Most people think I'm nuts because I don't really like dressing up. I get the same response when I tell them I don't like those crunchy things in between layers of ice-cream cake. I don't know why they react in such a way. I give them first crack before I touch my cake (remember, no dairy share). They totally benefit.

But if I do dress up, it's rather begrudgingly. I also assemble costumes that easily blend into normal clothes so that I can travel on the subway without comment. One year I put on army green pants, high-laced Doc Marten black boots and a white t-shirt (couldn't find a green one) and showed up to a party as Private Benjamin. I look nothing like Goldie Hawn so I made a "Hello, My Name is PRIVATE BENJAMIN" sticker. I rolled up my pants, slapped on the sticker, removed my coat right before entering and voila, instant transformation. It went over well.

My dislike of costumes must stem from an incident I had at an early age. When I was about seven-years-old, my mother got the idea from one of her coworkers to dress me as a crayon. I was asked to pick out my favorite color (at the time it was yellow) and we went to the store to buy big sheets of stiff yellow poster board (oak tag, if you're from Jersey). My father cut one of the pieces and formed it into a cone for the hat. I was given a black marker and told to write Crayola on the side and draw the squiggly lines, etc. When the big day came, the pointy cap was secured on my head with an elastic thingy and I was stapled into the yellow cylinder. I wore yellow pajamas underneath to avoid any yellow-peach confusion.

Remember when we were younger and the word on the street was that bees are attracted to the color yellow? I don't know about the rest of the country but we have a shit load of bees in Jersey in September and October. And they're all pissed off trying to get in their last stings before they die off (or go into a hive or whatever the hell they do in the winter). I got as a far as around the block before a bee started buzzing around me. I swatted at it a few times but it persisted. Finally, I decided to run from it. Um, not a smart idea considering my legs were mostly covered by a narrow tube. I can still remember the ripping sound. It wasn't even a clean break that could be fixed with Scotch tape. I ripped that muthafucka asunder.

I sadly walked back home and rang the bell. My mother came to the door thinking I was a trick-or-treater but instead of getting candy, I got a high-pitched "What on earth happened?!?!" She muttered and told me I was daft as she rummaged through her drawers to find a suitable replacement. She finally found a pair of pirate pants one of my older sisters wore a year or two before. Truth be told, I was a half-assed looking pirate because she couldn't find the hat, eyepatch or knife. In the end, all I was wearing was shredded jeans and a white shirt. I looked more like a castaway or someone victimized by a pirate.

But I still got lots of candy and did my yearly tradition of trading all of my Mary Janes in for the better candy in my Mom's bowl. The trade-in was the best part. I ditched all my bad candy and pennies for the good stuff. My rate of exchange benefited me rather generously, I might add. One penny = two boxes of candy corn or three Dum-Dum lollipops (cherry, preferably). My Mom made us remove Sugar Daddies, Now & Laters and Laffy Taffy from our bags because of their superior teeth-ruining properties. So we'd put those in the bowl in an uneven exchange for the Mom-approved (and much better) candy. Funny how she didn't seem to mind rotting some other kid's teeth.

Happy Halloween!!