Thursday, October 8, 2009

Halloween Nostalgia

Back in the days when I had favourite holidays, Halloween was it (Christmas second, Easter and all others a distant third.) No confusing religious overtones, just sweet, sweet candy and dress up. I remember planning and drawing out sketches weeks in advance. Then, in a fit of half-haphazard energy, I would disappear into the basement, throw together some cardboard, scotch tape and paint, and emerge, wearing something that never came out as planned, but that I still wore proudly. This picture, found in dusty Tupperware bins in the basement, is a testament to that creative process. (How nerdy is it that I, aspiring writer, chose to dress up as a newspaper?) My mother dutifully snapped these photos each year before we left the house. In my teenage years (I trick-or-treated til I was 17), I rolled my eyes. But I'm thankful now. The costumes are not exactly how I remember. In fact, most look like shoddy school projects, but still my nostalgia for a more innocent Halloween persists.

This second picture (me as sunglasses, circa Grade 7) attests to my love for sandwich boards and dressing as inanimate objects. Everyone mistook me for a bee. Eventually, I gave in and told every person that fine, sure, I was a bee, anything to avoid the perplexed looks I kept getting. My sister, dressed as a sunflower behind me, and I are puzzled over who the mystery kid in the doctor's mask is. In fact, we're not even sure it's a kid, since he/she seems to dwarf everyone else in the picture.

Somewhere along the way, Halloween changed. I can't pinpoint the exact moment I stopped caring, but I'm sad it happened. Now it's more an opportunity to dress in ways society wouldn't permit in everyday life. For instance, last year I draped myself in my grandmother's furs and went as 1930's film star Norma Shearer. Nobody got it, but the costume was more about wearing vintage anyway. That's not nearly as bad as dressing up mere minutes before leaving the house, usually while being too drunk or sloppy to care. This brings me to my next picture: "The Devolution of Halloween."

Here I am (shudder) as a hippie in first year at Dalhousie. After draping myself in beads and scarves, I got lazy and drew a peace sign on my face. I should have passed this off as a comment on the hippie movement. However, I'm fairly sure the girl on the left wasn't even dressed up.

To inject some much needed enthusiasm back into Halloween, this blog will feature stories about costumes, past, present and future. I want to hear from you! And I want to hear everything! About how your get-up fell apart over the course of a night and you were forced to improvise a totally different costume by the end. Or how your costume required a lengthy description that ultimately bored anyone you tried to explain it to. Here's my own story to kick-start the whole experiment:

During my brief stint in Glasgow, my ex and I were invited to a Halloween party. Only problem was that we had no money to spend on costumes and our wardrobes were limited to what we could stuff into a knapsack. So, stroke of genius, we decided to dress as each other. Me, looking like Conor Oberst, wore his jeans and hoodie and sleeked my short hair into a curtain across one eye. He, far braver than I, wore my purple strapless shirt and leather turquoise pencil skirt. These costumes might have been hilarious if we'd known a few more people at the party, but sadly we knew exactly one person. The costumes there were the typical fare: Superman, Jack Sparrow, Jasmine and more than a couple French maids. Despite the carte blanche that attends most Halloween get-ups, many of the partygoers assumed we were dressing normally and avoided us. Well, more my ex than me, but still there were a few awkward questions. In the end though, we survived our first Halloween abroad. Plus, I discovered that boys get to wear far more comfortable clothing and my ex discovered that girls get to wear the opposite.

No comments:

Post a Comment