The first memory I have of dressing up is in second grade when my mother attempted to transform me into a gypsy by layering me in multiple scarves, an oversized skirt, and a multicolored blouse. She added several fake gold necklaces and too many coats of dark black mascara and red lipstick. “What am I?” I remember asking her and she told me a gypsy, which meant nothing to me nor to any other second grader dressed as Superman, Barbie, and a witch. It was totally an immigrant take on costumes, but I give her credit for even playing along. I mean, it’s a ridiculous concept to dress up in costumes and beg for candy.
In eighth grade, I was at the apex of my coolness and threw a Halloween party in my wood paneled-lined basement. I was a mime (funny how I ended up marrying a professional clown) but the costume contest winner was a bag of jellybeans, made up of multicolored balloons inside an enormous clear garbage bag. Now I’ve seen it replicated for 30 years and it seems outdated, but at the time I thought it was unique as heck. Someone came as a bunch of grapes, which their mother painstakingly sewed and she looked exactly like a character from the Fruit of the Loom underwear commercials. I remember a cowgirl, a Cleopatra, a cat.
It wasn’t until after college while living in New York City that the sexy Halloween costumes began to take root. There was a sexy version for every typical costume: a sexy pirate, a sexy devil, a sexy police officer and lines around the block formed to get into at Ricky’s Drugstore which turned out to be a costume wonderland for two months of the year.
One year my sister and I were sexy mummies together; we ripped up white pillowcases and wrapped ourselves sloppily, leaving gaps of skin. It was my first Halloween post divorce and the only white shoes I owned which went with the mummy costume were my wedding shoes. There was a certain irony to walking around in those shoes for the second time in my life, on a flirtatious holiday, scantily clad. There wasn’t much thought or emotion put into the shoes; it was merely a matter of convenience and practicality. Also, I paid $200 for those Stuart Weitzmans, I was thrilled to lower the price-per-wear on them.
Another year my sister and I went to Las Vegas for Halloween and we bought the smallest costumes we felt comfortable wearing. They provided slightly more coverage than a one-piece bathing suit; but only slightly. We thought we were rebellious but we were more covered than 90% of the female costume wearers.
As a mom, I have a newfound perspective on Halloween. Even though I’m married to a performer, and we love the opportunity to don a couple costume, the holiday has become all about the kids. They pick a costume and we work a cast of supporting characters around them. Last year it was Inside Out; my daughter was Joy, I was Disgust, and my husband was Bing Bong. This year, it’s Alice in Wonderland. I am, quite appropriately, the Queen of Hearts, my daughter is Alice, and my husband is The Mad Hatter.
I’m sure there will be a period when our kids are all done dressing up but we continue on – or else maybe they’ll be just like us, forever embracing the last day of October to spend a day being someone else and eat candy.