Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ghosts of Halloweens past ...

Before I begin, let me just say: I LOVE that Halloween is on a Sunday this year. LOVE. IT. Christine O'Donnell might deny her witchiness, but if you ask me, she planned it.

HALLOWEEN! The celebration of All Hallow's Eve, Samhain, All Souls Day, El Dia de los Muertos (which, while technically Nov.1st, still celebrates the dead, so it counts). Do you remember waiting months, weeks, and days for Halloween? Do you remember planning out your costume in intricate detail? That familiar scent of fall mixed high fructose corn syrup? The anticipation of going to school looking like something other than a nerdy kid, and maybe (depending on the year), getting to wear *gasp!* MAKEUP?! Do you remember the thrill of watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" on public access TV??????? (Okay, maybe that last one was just me...)

I DO. I loved the anticipation of Halloween, though not necessarily Halloween itself. I loved planning my costumes every year, racking my brain for better, more creative ideas than anyone else. I loved trick or treating, I loved the candy. What I didn't love was all the scariness attached to it. I *HATED* being scared, and this is coming from a child who was scared all the time, whether it was Halloween or no. I still get scared easily. I don't do scary movies, I don't do fright fests, and I CERTAINLY do not do Haunted Houses. It was a bit of a battle for me, year after year - in order to celebrate my awesome creativity, I had to brave all the haunted-house-nightmare-on-elm-street-friday-the-13th-Jason-in-a-hockey-mask-Freddy-Kreuger's-blood-drenched-metal-fingers-ghosts-in-the-graveyard-things-that-go-bump-in-the-night-and-kill-me-with-a-chainsaw bullshit. Sometimes I failed, sometimes I succeeded. But no matter the fear factor, I was always there - ironic and esoteric costume in tow.

You have to understand - when you're raised by theatre professionals, the costume possibilities are endless. It was never enough for me to be a typical Halloween anything. I was never once a witch, or a ghost, or a mummy (I did go as Dracula one year, but I was the best Dracula you've ever seen!). I never went as the cartoon-character-of-the-year, never dressed up as any kind of doll or princess. And with my costume shop kingdom, I won costume contest after costume contest - it was every child's DREAM! Except most other children weren't envious of me, so much as they were relieved that there was someone (much) weirder than them. But I *liked* being weird. In fact, I kind of excelled at it.

Case-in-point: The 1st Grade Dragonfly Faery (age 6)

I wasn't just a Dragonfly, and I wasn't just a Faery. I was a dragonflyfaery. Costume source: Gem Theatre costume shop, thanks to my dad. I believe the wings and head were from a recent production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

That was pretty much as girly as I got. I don't think I was ever caught in pink tights again. But look at the production values on that mask! What kid wouldn't want something that geeky cool??

Costumes became more complicated as I grew older, however. At some point, I lost my costume shop privileges; not because of anything I'd done, but I didn't have access to it anymore. That's when my right brain kicked in, and came up with some truly out-there ideas. Like what? Davy Crockett. In 1992. I don't know if you remember how popular Davy Crockett was in 1992, but I think he was somewhere between Howdy Doody and a French Revolutionary. I was *SO* insanely proud of this idea. I had gone on a roadtrip that summer with my mom, step-dad, and step-sisters. It was a wholly awful trip - lots of arguing, usually about something that I did (I hated being the youngest), though I can't remember. The arguing was so bad, my mom took me and we went off on our own. For my money, that was the best part of the trip - we saw Old Faithful, and the sulfer springs - and with the money I had been saving, I bought myself a coon-skin cap and a musk-ox horn - the noise-making variety, not for gunpowder.

In late August, long after we had returned home, I told my mom I wanted to be Davy Crockett for Halloween. She found the costume print, we picked out the fabric, and she even bought me a pair of moccasins to wear. It had the fringe on the arms, the front of the jacket - I had my cap guns and air-chamber rifle I had been given the Christmas before - it. was. AWESOME. I won 2nd place at the Whittier Halloween Festival, and received a whole bucket load of candy, and a ribbon. The candy was offered up to the rest of the family (and was promptly consumed). But the ribbon stayed on my bookshelf for YEARS - a testament to my originality and affirmation in my creativity. So while I was constantly doing something wrong in the eyes of my step-family, I had a token reminder that I was actually much better than what they were telling me.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of me as Davy Crockett, though my mom might. But that's still my favorite Halloween costume to date.

By the time I reached high school, my need for originality got worse. A LOT worse. My sophomore year, I stapled trash to an old shirt and pair of jeans, smeared my face with dirt, and went as Pollution.

My senior year, I went as an Academic:

[By the by, this photo was taken at my friend Anna's house at 6:30 a.m., before 0 period Marching Band. So if I look half-awake, it's because I am.]

As an adult, Halloween doesn't have the same significance to me. I enjoy it, it's fun. I don't dress up anymore - I think being an actor has taken all of the air out of that particular balloon. I do love passing out candy, though, and seeing the kids in their costumes now. Unfortunately, adulthood also comes with a price - I'm starting a temp job on Halloween that begins at 6:00 p.m. and lasts until 3:00 a.m. So no candy deposits for me this year. The things we do for a buck, eh? Ah well.

I could go on and on about the weirdness/genius of my past Halloween costumes, but rather than waxing poetical in long detail, I'll list them instead.

Top 9 Halloween Costumes I've worn/created:

1. Davy Crockett (age 10)*
2. The Artful Dodger (age 5)* - Yes, from Oliver!
3. Errol Flynn/Captain Blood (age 8)
4. Pollywog/Frog (age 2)
5. Pollution (age 15)

6. Lesbian Army of one (age 20)*
7. Calamity Jane (age 9)
8. Werewolf of London (age 7)*
9. Robbin Hood (age 11)

* Denotes costume contest winners

(Wow. I'm totally braggy about my costumes! I apologize for the blatant douchiness)

Single WORST Costume I've ever been forced to wear:

CLOWN (age 4)

The story: I hate clowns. I've ALWAYS hated clowns. One Halloween, my dad has to go out of town for business, so he asks my best friend's mom if I can go trick-or-treating with them? Of course! My dad wonders what costume he should appropriate for me, and Pam, my best friend's mom says, don't worry about it, I have an extra costume, then the girls will match! Perfect, says my dad. So I show up to my best friend's house, very excited about wearing a matchy-matchy costume with her. She takes me into her room to show me, and whambamthankyouma'am, I see the clown wig and the crazy costume, and I BURST into tears. Somewhere, there's a photo of Crystal and I standing in Pam's kitchen - Crystal is smiling shyly, not sure what to do, because I can't stop crying.

If you could see the photo below close up, you'd see tear-tracks in my clown makeup. This is after the fiasco, where I'm emotionally binge-eating chocolate, in an attempt to patch the giant hole of terror that was brutally ripped in my psyche.

Trick-or-treating with pillow cases! OLD. SCHOOL.

Some more Halloween Favorites:

Candy: Rolos or Milky Way Midnights (worst: anything that's not chocolate, and whoppers)
Movie: "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown"
Song: "I Put a Spell on You" Bette Midler, a la Hocus Pocus
Event: The Rocky Horror Halloween party I threw in my hall when I was an RA in College, complete with toilet paper, toast, rice, and every Rocky Horror accoutrement known to human kind.

So what about you? Favorites? Worsts? Fears? I hope your Halloween is whatever you want it to be - whether it's celebrating your own brilliance, or cuddling up on the couch with your favorite bag of candy, and watching something scary like the 700 Club on the boob tube. 


Phoenix said...

This is the cutest Halloween post I have EVER read. And you, my girl, are adorable. Even as a tear-streaked clown, which sort of makes that concept even creepier.

Lindsay tried for like, five years in a row to get me to dress up as a tomato on Halloween, with a full tomato costume and bright red face makeup with a costume tomato top.

I said something close to the 5th - 9th grade version of fuck off.

Most of the time I was a cat, because I loved cats, and it's easy to wear all black and just paint whiskers on your nose. One year I went as a pirate.

I also dressed as Buffy one year (anyone surprised, raise your hand) and of course, my favorites were Death and Harley Quinn.

I don't have a bunch of bad Halloween memories so I'll just say that I hate, hate, hate, LOATHE, those damn houses that give away toothbrushes instead of candy. Wtf, people? What do you give for Christmas, Jesus dying on a cross?!

Kristin Quinn said...

You were pollution one year? I would have liked to seen that! Yes, great Halloween post. And I liked the Charlie Brown Halloween special... you weren't the only one ;)