Friday, November 02, 2007

Trick or Treat

This is what happens when political campaigns drag on for years before the actual election. Pundits run out of things to say and begin questioning the obvious. Like, is Hillary Clinton playing the gender card? Um, duh. And why shouldn’t she?

So she called presidential politics a “boys club.” I don’t know if that’s pandering, or simply stating a fact. Correct me if I’m wrong, but an unbroken line of 43 male leaders of the free world pretty much proves her point.

I remember, back in the day, when women first started acting like they thought they could be president—sometime in the 1980s—and their opponents made a big deal out of whether a female commander in chief would have the balls to launch a nuclear attack against Russia. (Prompting some of us to wonder, “Well, would it be such a bad thing for a person to think twice before annihilating the planet?”)

That, in my book, is pulling out the gender card. So if Hillary Clinton is attempting to beat the boys at a game they invented, I say turnabout is fair play.

But I don’t really want to talk about Hillary Clinton today. I want to talk about Halloween. Am I the only adult who’s glad as hell that this holiday is over?

I’ve got nothing against candy. I love candy. In fact, one of the great joys of being a grown-up is that I can buy as much sugar and chocolate as I want, whenever I want, without having to beg for it house to house once a year.

It’s the costume part that I hate. And I don’t mean that I have a phobia about people dressed in costumes, the way some people fear and despise clowns. I mean that I can’t stand the pressure of coming up with something creative to wear.

As a kid, I would say that my costuming career peaked at around age 6, when it was still acceptable to don one of those suffocating plastic masks and accompanying robe. I usually went as a Princess. Or a cat. And what, besides the fact that I nearly drowned on the sweat droplets that collected on the inside of the mask, was so wrong with that?

The older I got, the higher the stakes were raised. I was supposed to conjure up a hobo or a little old lady or Wonder Woman out of the scraps in my closet, which was not, unlike apparently every other kids’, overflowing with golden lassos and granny wigs. The trouble is, I wouldn’t even start to think about my costume until trick-or-treat night, having used up most of my brainpower devising the ultimate route through our subdivision that would result in the maximum haul of sweetened plunder.

So Halloween went something like this: I would rush home from school with only hours to spare before the official start of the candy rush and stare at my options—slacks, blouses and dresses—and wait for them to reveal their true magical nature to me. Never happened.

Inevitably I would panic and just throw on a sheet, the costume equivalent of giving cash as a Christmas gift. Both basically say, “I have no imagination.”

Frankly, I was glad to put those days behind me. As far as I was concerned, adulthood meant never again having to answer, “And what are you going to be for Halloween?”

Except for that through the wonders of marketing, Halloween is now as much for adults as for kids. And I’d be totally on board with this turn of events if all it required of me was to work my way through a bag of assorted Hershey’s miniatures. But instead, I keep getting invited to costume parties.

Costume parties, as seen on TV, are wonderful affairs. And if I had an entire wardrobe department at my disposal, I’d be having a good time, too. Not a bedsheet in sight. The trouble is, all this televised foolery (or should it be “ghoul-ery”) has trickled down to the rest of us. Hoboes and little old ladies are out. Increasingly elaborate get-ups are in. Picture Princess Leia in her skimpy chained-to-Jabba-the Hutt bikini. Ironic statements are even better. And just to prove how pathetic I am in this department, I can’t even muster an example for you of what such a costume might be. If I could think of one, I’d have worn it.

Luckily, when it comes to Halloween, my husband is of the same mind. We got engaged before we had spent a single holiday season together, and it didn’t occur to me to ask about his stance on costumes before I accepted his proposal. That could have been an irreconcilable difference.

But we’re tired of feeling like boring, old, sticks-in-the-mud. We’re ashamed of our inability to get into the spirit of things. Don’t we want to be like all the other grown-ups and relive our childhoods?

So next year, I’m marching into wherever such things are sold and I’m buying one of those plastic mask death traps. (You just know some company in China is still be making them.) And when anyone asks me “What are you going to be for Halloween?” I’ll answer, “My six-year-old self.”


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