Gill asked me if I plan to decorate for Hallowe’en this year. “Do I have to?”
It was always so handy to be able to say:”Oh, Poochie hates people. She barks at all the kids and scares them…or she tries to steal their candy. Once I even had to stop her from sneaking out with a group of kids and trying her own paw at begging for candy. I believe that was the year I dressed her up. My bad.”
She’d never truly go for the jugular or lunge at the kids, but the lurking parents didn’t know that. They’d run up to the door, start yelling, pulling their kids away and before you knew it, I heard the word ‘lawyer’ screamed multiple times. I didn’t know if they WERE lawyers or were threatening to call one. Either way, it just wasn’t worth the fuss…or the lawsuit. I mean, couldn’t those kids buy their own candy? We live in an upscale neighbourhood. So this year, without Poochie, I’ll just take myself and a bottle of wine upstairs, turn out all the lights and drink in the dark.”
“Ma, you’ve turned into a curmudgeon! You used to love Hallowe’en.”
“I used to love your father, too, but stuff happens…”
“Oh, come on. Can’t you wear that funny felt turkey bonnet I gave you? It’s a shame you can only wear it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ll bet you could whip up a costume in no time. A couple of cardboard wings with feathers pasted all over…God knows, you have an entire collection what with the inside canaries and the flock of outdoor ducks. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind making a tiny sacrifice on your behalf.”
I had to admit, Gill almost had me convinced. Plus, it would make a statement. I have been appalled at the options for costumes this year. They all seem to be ‘Slutacular’ — and I blame Miley Cyrus for it all. I mean, you’re gonna dress your poor little five-year-old kid up as a Wrecking Ball to trudge around the neighborhood? Who does that? Or even better, Miley’s pink tongue! Or something from Fifty Shades of Grey? Really? We’re really teaching our kids that S&M is a suitable costume theme? Or a sexy nurse? Or even better, a sexy pizza? (The pepperoni slices act as boobs!) Oh, I have lived too long and seen too much…
If I were in the market for an appropriate costume this Hallowe’en, I’d go for something in an animal…say a donkey’s ass or an elephant’s head served up on a platter in tribute to the U.S. government, or a snake (symbolic of Ted Cruz and his snake-in-the-grass strangling of the Republican leadership), or a large dog crouching to deliver a huge turd to the American voters. Those would be perfect costumes –they have humour AND truth.
Except that I don’t want to do Hallowe’en this year. I realize that I have become the neighborhood cranky old lady, the Grinch that stole Hallowe’en (forgive the mixed metaphors), the person whose house will get egged. But I have paid my dues, as Gill will attest. Time was when mine was the ‘go to’ house on the block. I bought only the best chocolate, chips, and candies.(Okay, that was mostly an exercise in self-interest — so I’d have something decent to eat if there were leftovers.) I only resorted to buying candy when I could no longer hand out homemade cookies…that was when checking for razor blades became A Thing and homemade became synonymous with lethal.
I sculpted pumpkins, gourds, and any other willing, compliant vegetable I could find into gory, gruesome creatures. Spaghetti imitated brains oozing from heads, black crows feasted on the gooey mess. Spiders crawled over the remains, creepy music echoed from the house. I, dressed as a witch, cackled from behind my mask. I had warts on my nose (no, thanks to Compound W they were NOT real) and long, scraggly fingernails courtesy of the (‘It’s all in the eyes of the beholder’) beauty department at Shoppers.
It often takes a little distance and perspective to appreciate things. When I see the ridiculous and offensive costumes offered in stores, I thank my lucky stars that Gill was an inventive, creative kid. Her one-of-a-kind outfits were imaginative, sometimes thought-provoking, always funny, and totally homemade (often within ten minutes of the start of trick-or-treating). Odd, that’s the way she prepared for exams too. My particular favourite was the year she got dolled up as a pancreas…complete with written explanation of what a pancreas does. I dare Toys R Us to come up with anything better!
I expect that Gill will be celebrating the big day in England, although the Brits see Guy Fawke’s Day as more of an occasion to celebrate. Hallowe’en has been exported from North America to the streets of London, but when they see the Wrecking Ball and Miley’s Tongue littering their pavement, they may want to send the holiday back — C.O.D.