I love to dress up. GIVE ME A THEMED PARTY, AND I AM ON CLOUD NINE. So, it is no surprise that Halloween has a special place in my heart. I get to pull out all my nerdy theatrical tricks and fully commit to being someone else for the night. I must admit some years, I have taken it further than others, perhaps a bit too far. Blame changing times, a lack of self-respect, or little regard for socially acceptable behavior. Reflecting on my past Halloween costumes, I find it interesting how my interests have evolved over the years. There are distinguishable patterns, from childhood rebellion to flat audacity in adulthood. I see very few of my costume choices have been tame. Though as I get older, my perspectives may change, my eagerness to make people laugh does not. Here are my costumes ranked worst to best.
No. 18-20: Grey onesie and a plastic donkey head. My husband wore an inflatable dancing girl costume. I was the star of the show. Use your imagination. Then, of course, there was the muddy Alabama prom queen and the inflatable male anatomy; sadly, this one was reprised. I rank these three bawdy years together because they made up a series of disgusting couple-inspired costumes. I attribute these blunders to early parenthood; one can only take so many toddler-friendly stimuli before they crack. Barney and Friends and Paw Patrol, whose wholesomeness was our household soundtrack for three long years, struck a chord somewhere deep inside.
No.17: A brown paper grocery bag with cut-out arm and neck holes. Colored paper feathers glued on to make a decorative dress. My first handmade costume. I was a six-year-old native American. Some things don’t age well. I remember the blisters on my fingers cutting out all the paper feathers I had spent hours coloring. This was my first experience making my own costume from what I had lying around the house. Was it inappropriate? Yes. Was I an impoverished brilliant mastermind? Also, yes.
No. 10-16: Short skirts, plunging necklines, and goosebumps. Slutty cop, slutty Rainbow Bright, slutty barmaid, slutty devil, slutty angel, even slutty Snow White. I refer to October 31st during my twenties as the years of desperation. I risked hypothermia for a decade because I was so thirsty for attention. Oh, to be young.
No. 9: Colorful crop top, top-knot scrunchie, long nails, and a gold fanny pack. I was Sheneneh Jenkins, Martin Lawrence’s female persona on his 90s sitcom, Martin. At 10 years old, I saw comedy as side-eye and head shaking. I crossed so many appropriation boundaries. I recall now, in horror, at what would never be acceptable by today’s standards. Fun night, but I would have appreciated it if someone would have reined me in a bit.
No. 8: A golden onesie with padded feet and a brown furry muffler around my face. I was the Cowardly Lion posed next to my family, all paying tribute to Wizard of Oz characters. I was four and had no real say in my costume, so I might be bending the rules to include this in the list. However, I have a photo of that night, and it is the only real memory of my early family dynamic before divorce and illness changed everything. The total commitment from Scarecrow, Dorothy, and my brother, Toto, put it in my top ten.
No. 4-7: Mustaches and neck tattoos. I love drag, but I’m not sure why I continuously explore my masculine alter ego as a rough dirt-bag biker. I found the 1989 film Road House highly influential in my ideas of manly men. This costume resurrects itself every few years. In my next life, give me brewskies, babes, and Patrick Swayze teaching me Kung Fu.
No. 3: A bald zombie mask with added red lipstick, a conservative dress, and plastic pearls. I was Mrs. Anderson, my fifth and sixth-grade teacher. She was so ancient I dedicated an old nursery rhyme song to her called “Magdalena Hagdalena.” It went something like, “She had three hairs on her head, one was alive, and two were dead…She had two teeth in her mouth; one went north, the other went south…” I am going to hell. Of course, I never sang it to her face; but the zombie costume was an uncanny resemblance. I’m sorry, Mrs. Anderson.
No. 2: Gold body paint head-to-toe and a golden robe. Heralding another round of drinks with my painted hockey horn, I was an irreverent twenty-one-year-old Angel Moroni. The night was a hit, and I enjoyed my first taste of sacrilegious behavior. I’m definitely going to hell.
No.1: Hawaiian shirt, work boots, wind-swept hairdo, and a goofy walk. I embodied Ace Venture down to my bones. Having years of practice with Jim Carrey’s one-liners, I pulled out all the stops with this costume. It turned into my favorite day as a middle school teacher. “I’m ready to go in, Coach. Just give me a chance.”
This year I wanted to do something truly terrifying. Top ponytail, a padded behind, and a selfie stick. Hoping to bring the horror of Kim K. to life, I’ll spend the night posing for pictures and talking about myself. It is a tribute to the end of the series Keeping Up with The Kardashians and the celebration that I never watched a single shallow episode.
So, like, “Happy Halloween.”