Essay | Hallow

I don't have a lot of important Halloween memories. It's just never been a meaningful day to me, even when I was a child.  I assume that's because Halloween is the most social of holidays and, since I was a socially fragile child, I did not take to it as I did Christmas or any other consumerism-based event.

I did, however, dress up and go door to door for a few years with my small cousins, and on occasion I really enjoyed my costume. But it's the same thing that happens with birthdays when you get into your adolescence. All of  a sudden the things you used to do as a child become passe. You try extra hard not to be childish, because you want to be cool, and children aren't cool. So you no longer hire clowns and moon-jumps for your party, and you no longer go to Kmart for costumes in mid-October.

I will tell you all the costumes I remember:

  • The Red Ranger (consecutive years)

  • A Ninja (consecutive years)

  • A mime (really just white face paint)

  • Nothing (consecutive years)

  • Basketball player

  • Mad scientist

  • Batman (consecutive years)

I remember wearing the cheap red ranger costume at least twice, which was an astonishingly thin fabric and a plastic mask that only covered the front part of your face. Which is obvious now, because a real power ranger suit would cost an exorbitant amount of money, right? But as a child, these are weird things to have to reconcile. You want to dress up as something you like on TV, whether it's Superman, or a princess, or a cowboy. But if you're part of the common folk, you're going to get a cheap approximation of it that isn't wholly satisfying. Still, it's closer to a Ninja Turtle than what you normally wear! You take what you can get and, besides, you're going to get a truly absurd amount of candy later. You are going to make it rain with fun-sizes.

After that I was a ninja, because boys always like combative costumes, and I really enjoyed the plastic sword that came with it. I had already given up on Halloween when I went as a white-faced mime. It was a last minute costume, as I was persuaded to go to the local park for Halloween festivities. I believe my cousin put dirt on his shirt and held up a cardboard sign to go as a hobo.

After that, I finished off Middle School and went through High School with little to no care for Halloween. In 12th grade, my friend took me to a Halloween ska concert and I went in a hoodie and t-shirt and bad haircut. It was hard for me to get back in after getting out because the costume decision is too much self-conscious mental labor. What do I want to look like? What does that say about me? Then there are the financial questions and creative conundrums. Do I really want to buy a costume? What can I make that looks respectable from the bullshit in my closet? For many years, it was easier to just not play the game than answer those questions.

It didn't help that I live in a kind of isolationist bubble. For over ten years, I've lived in a small housing complex comprised of less than a dozen houses. It was also long and narrow, meaning people from the larger block wouldn't waste their time making the trek into our complex to reach us when they could skip it as a whole for the house across the street. So we had no trick or treaters, no need for decorations, no need to really get into any kind of spirit. My fellow complex-dwellers agreed with their inactivity. We lived in a Halloween dead-zone.

Then came college, and since you have to go to Halloween parties, I ended up buying a rubber Batman mask that currently sits folded up in my closet. I probably enjoyed wearing it too much. When I grew tired of busting that thing out every Halloween like a typical Batman nerd, I fashioned my first homegrown costume. Having just seen and loved Dr. Horrible, but not having that cool coat that seals on one side, I opted to be a normal mad scientist. That meant a white lab coat (from the university book store), welder's goggles (from Ebay for $30) and black gloves (from Ace Hardware, where I also found out they sell welder's goggles for $6).

And then I lost that whole costume when I got drunk at a party and had to go to the remaining parties as an uninspired basketball player. But whatever. The gloves were uncomfortable to wear all the time anyway, what with all the sweat and inability to scratch your nose.

I haven't had the urge to celebrate All Hallows' Eve since. There are a lot of reasons for that. I'm still not the social maven I ought to be, so I don't have many things calling me to participate. I still don't like dedicating the brain space and funds to a respectable costume. And if I was doing NaNoWriMo this year, the 31st is the last day to plan for it.

It's autumn. It's the mellow, beautiful season, and sometimes that's more inline with self-imposed exile, I guess.