I love Halloween. Whatever weird compulsion it is to want to dress up in a costume, I had it in a big way for a long time. It was a beast that awakened once a year and took over my consciousness for weeks leading up to the big night. Looking back on my twenties, I have to begrudgingly admit that if I had put the same energy into following a career that I put into assembling my Halloween costumes I would be at least a few points of latitude North of writing a blog with a weekly circulation of about 45. (Thank you, Google analytics?)
I had a lot of good costumes over the years. As an adult (if someone in their 20s can really be called that) I always tended toward funny costumes as opposed to scary costumes. (I suppose one might say that there are two kinds of people.) The one that really made me feel like I accomplished something was the Krusty the Klown kostume I made in 1998. I really committed to that one: I got the voice down pat, and the laugh, which was a little harder; I got green pants (size 42, to accommodate the fake potbelly I made duct-taping a throw pillow to a t-shirt), a short-sleeved pink shirt, and a blue bowtie from some thrift stores; I created the blue wig with male pattern baldness with a swatch of blue fur from a crafts store and a bald cap; and I got a big red pair of clown shoes, a clown nose, and some white gloves, from a Halloween store. I even smoked a pack of cigarettes that night. At the time, I had just started dating my wife, who started out amused by this effort but ended up creeped out, and begging me to take it all off. (I didn’t want to do that until we got home, because I felt the only thing creepier than Krusty would have been Krusty with the wig off.)
It’s been a few years since I did a Halloween costume. I think I knew it was really over for me when I repeated my Magnum, P.I. costume from a few years before for a costume party at a bar a couple of years ago. Sure, I won the costume contest at that party — tight white short-shorts are always a hit — but the shame of repeating a Halloween costume drowned out the triumph.
The beast lay dormant for a couple of years, which (coincidentally?) were my first few years as a parent. Halloween means nothing to a kid the first couple of years, so we sat out Henry’s first one entirely and almost sat out the second until our good friends lent us one of their kids’ old costumes, so we went with them on our neighborhood trick-or-treat route.
In our Brooklyn neighborhood, they do Halloween a little different than we used to do it in the suburbs: NYPD closes four streets for three blocks in the historic district, creating a 12-block snaking route of brownstone rowhouses, probably 30 per side per block. With no cars on the street, the kids — and you can’t believe how many kids there are, they come from other neighborhoods to get in on this — can zigzag all over the place and make out like bandits on the candy. Probably 3 out of 5 houses on the route are participating, and they’re all right next to each other, so the kids theoretically should be able to score and score big, but there are so many kids out there that they’re all in each other’s way so they slow each other down, like a soccer game with 800 kids on the field. Except the kids are in Halloween costumes! It is even more fun than it sounds. Read More