Goblins, Ghouls and Grown Ups
Do you know yet what you’re going to be for Halloween? That was a question asked of me and every kid I knew back in the day – and I have no doubt it’s still asked this time of year wherever there are excited kids, plastic pumpkins overflowing with candy and neighborhood doorbells to be rung. One big difference today, however, is that parents more often than not are also asked the same question: Got your Halloween costume all figured out?
Increasingly, the adults will have chosen costumes that are much more elaborate and costly by far than the ones their kids will be wearing. Do a search online for “adults” and “Halloween” and all sorts of scary headings appear – many of them including “sexy” or “plus size” or even using both descriptors in their listing. (Now, that’s truly frightening.)
But salted between the links to sketchy sites I don’t ever want in my browser history are multiple news stories reporting how much more money is spent on adult Halloween costumes and activities than on kids. I don’t want to open a big can of cultural worms (and I’m only given room for 650 words in this space each week) so I’ll let wiser pundits than yours truly discuss the cultural reasons and ramifications of the fast-growing phenomenon that has Halloween becoming nearly as significant a holiday as Christmas.
From my own observations and admittedly limited research, it’s apparent that both kids and adults have more costume choices available than ever before. Along with the usual monsters, mummies and other malevolent nasties, there are sure to be legions of pop-culture icon lookalikes ringing doorbells and attending parties tonight – from Duck Dynasty’s quirky Uncle Sy to the sadly lascivious Miley Cyrus.
I even saw an online post showing a ridiculously clever costume made from a full body stocking with hundreds of paint chips like the kind you pick up at the hardware store attached to the fabric. Every chip was a series of graduated gray colors, some almost white, some almost black and all tones in between. Can you guess what the wearer was? Yep, 50 Shades of Gray. Hopefully the person wearing this bit of ingenious creativity is an adult and not a fifth grader. But nothing would surprise me any more.
Every year my wife and I tried to be as creative as possible with our kids’ costumes when they were trick-or-treating age. The standing rule in our house was you could be as weird or whacky as you wanted to as long as the character wasn’t evil, bloody, flesh-eating or gaggingly gross. It also had to be something we could make, not pre-packaged or store bought. My wife was one of the last Glendale Unified students fortunate enough to learn the fast-disappearing art of sewing, so she was always willing and able to create amazing costumes. And I have always loved the challenge of making costume props – from a four-foot long, chicken-wire and papier maché alligator for a Steve Irwin, “Crocodile Hunter” character to a wooden sword and shield for a Legend of Zelda “Link” costume.
My all time favorite, however, was the good ship “Trout-anic” which we built as a wearable fishing boat (your legs and feet poked through the hull and suspender-like straps over the shoulders supported its weight) for our fishing fanatic son who went door-to-door in his waders trolling for candy.
If for some reason my wife and I were dressing up this year, I think it would be fun for her to go as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius carrying a Commodore 64 computer and a stack of “100 Hours Free AOL” startup disks. I would wear a really bad hairpiece and walk alongside of her as a short and stumpy version of Donald Trump. Every few minutes I’d point my finger at her and say, “You’re fired!”
Happy Halloween! Be safe and I’ll see you ’round town.