How do you feel about Halloween?
More than any other "holiday" (and I put the word in quotation marks because unless I get the day off work, it isn't a true holiday anymore, unlike when I was a kid and "holiday" could be defined as any day with special decorations and candy), Halloween transforms into something else altogether when you're an adult.
When you're a kid, even if you hate scary stuff, you're going to get on board with the whole shebang because sweets are involved. By the time I was a teenager, when I could procure candy on my own and shaving cream fights had furnished all the diversion they possibly could in my life, I was pretty well over it.
As an adult woman, you go one of three ways with Halloween: a) nerdy group costumes with your s.o. and/or children, channeling your theater-tech days; b) Weird "I get to look slutty tonight" outfits and c) complete apathy. I would totally be in the B camp if it weren't for my aversion to cold, aversion to crowds and attraction to complete laziness. So that leaves me in camp C.
Best associations with Halloween:
- Being a bag of jellybeans, circa third grade. My mom pinned balloons to me and put a big plastic dry-cleaning bag over them. It was genius. If you've never walked around with a bunch of balloons pinned to your person, I recommend it. This year it's timely because of the Heenes. Go for it.
- Being Pippi Longstocking my senior year of college. I was over Halloween at that point but somehow got it together to do this. It was great because it was so simple: all you need is braids wrapped around wire and striped leggings. The braids made it. You can't imagine the number of times I got the drunk, good-vibey exclamation, "PIPPI!" that night.
- Candy corn. BRACH'S ONLY, bitches. I can tell by looking when candy corn isn't Brach's because it's too wide and has weird ridges in it and it tastes like shit. Sure, you might say that all candy corn tastes like shit, but that's because you haven't appreciated -- or refuse to appreciate -- the honey-smooth divinity of Brach's. If you know what I'm singing about up here come on raise your hand.
- Mrs. May's house. I was lucky enough to grow up in a solid neighborhood with lots of good houses for trick-or-treating -- except for Mrs. May's house. Mrs. May was a grouchy widow who was always ordering us off her property. On Halloween her house was always dark and no one would ever answer the door and it looked haunted. Every block needs a house like that (just one) on Halloween.
Worst associations with Halloween:
- The movie Halloween. I remember seeing this on VHS while over at my friend Julie's in maybe fifth grade. At first, the idea that we were getting to see an R-rated movie with nudity was super enticing. But I think I knew I was out of my league within the first minutes of the film. The theme playing over the opening credits was bad enough, but what I remember most was being disturbed even by the mean kids smashing a big pumpkin on the ground (around 6:30 in the link above) -- forget about the topless women being knifed. After my mom found out that I had been allowed to see this movie and The Groove Tube, I wasn't allowed to go to Julie's anymore.
- Being Charlie Chaplin circa 8th grade. Epitome of awkward. It's already kind of weird that I had a thing for Charlie Chaplin (I mean in the '80s really any dude with eyeliner was fair game) and then that I tried to carry that over into drag is just even more weird.
- Three Musketeers. Most expendable booty of the lot. Fuck nougat.
- Being out at night on Halloween as an adult.
Last year at Halloween, I agreed to go to a work-related event. At the time, I was working for a cooking-party company and we were actively seeking both venues and clients. One of the venues we work with was having an open house.
Pathetic admission: If I'd still been married at the time, it's likely I would have skipped this event. But I was newly single, with one low income, and what else did I have to do but try to goose my event sales by attending this function? So I went to the open house, which was at a small professional kitchen in Pacifica, CA.
Now, Pedro Point Creative is the nicest kitchen you could ask for if you're planning a small dinner or cooking class. It's a gorgeous little space and I recommend it to anyone on the peninsula.
That said, the event ended up being basically a neighborhood party. I felt a bit out of place walking along uneven road behind the windy cliffs in my heels trying to find the kitchen, at one point passing a yard filled with a junk (the old man there had no idea what I was talking about when I asked him where Pedro Point Creative was) and then later stopping to ask for directions at a recreational hall filled with teens who were at some sort of dance or party. It was the most random street ever. Finally I found it, a modest but attractive house nestled in between other modest houses of varying attractiveness.
Most of the people who showed up brought their kids and were obviously from the houses nearby. No one was really interested in booking a cooking party. The neighborhood was a quietly dramatic group of houses perched on cliffs next to the Pacific Ocean, but it wasn't a particularly affluent crowd. It was the kind of area where sweeping sea vistas, junkyards and tiny homes all came together.
Pacifica is small, odd, very windy and starkly beautiful. It's also the last place you're going to land a big event client on Halloween night. I kind of knew this going in, but again, what else did I have to do but go and see what a professional kitchen on the lower level of a house on a residential street in Pacifica was like?
I drove home along Highway 1 in the rain and felt more alone than I ever had on Halloween, even more than the ones spent alone in my apartment in New York. It seemed as though everyone I met that night was wearing a costume that would never fit me. I was about as likely to become a princess or Spider-Man as I was the chef behind the stove making hors d'oeuvres, or an outdoorsy mom leading her kids and dog through a remote seaside street from house to house, or a hippie artist/photographer/stylist.
Not sure what I'll do for Halloween this year, but I'm going to try to avoid anything that involves work, Pacifica or Charlie Chaplin.