Sunday, October 25, 2015

All Hail Halloween

If you have half a mind to dress up for Halloween this year, listen to that half. Halloween falls on a Saturday, a day most people can wear whatever they want.

These young ladies are pretty seriously tricked out in their witch costumes— so well in fact I wonder if this was the inspiration for American Horror's season, "Coven", about junior witches.

When I was a kid costumes were usually homemade and not very elaborate. Little boys were either cowboys (vest, six-shooters and a star were little-boy attire) or hobos in their dad's old clothes. Little girls wore stuff they wore for dress-up, a mishmash of mom's cast-off clothes and accessories with (for one night only) makeup. Store bought costumes were considered lame as well as dangerous. They were made from a highly flammable combination of paper and quasi-cloth. Not recommended for wearing near jack o'lanterns (yes, we put real candles in those).

"Retarded" may not be the same as "retardant"

One year I did coerce my mother into sewing an elaborate Queen of Hearts costume. I was hoping to replicate the outfit worn by Betsy in "Betsy and Billy", one of a series of books by Carolyn Haywood about a little girl first published in 1939 (and still not out of print).

Over the years I've dressed up in earnest, in companionship (Princess to a very small Darth Vader) and in irony (Coco Chanel at the Lovely Boutique Where I Work). I've suffered through full-on rubber masks and the indignity of having to wear a coat over my costume while trick-or-treating.

Masquerade balls were quite the thing in 17th and 18th century Europe. Aside from elaborate costumes, a mask was supposed to hide your identity. Wearing a mask also lowers your inhibitions. Who would you be if no one knew who you were?

Marie Antoinette hiding in plain sight

Coincidentally this year I'll be in New Orleans for Halloween. Since Nola is a combination of Halloween, New Year's Eve, Fourth of July, Christmas and Valentine's Day year round this should be fun.

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