SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
There’s probably no better timed holiday than Halloween. After all, it comes just before the two most frightening times on the calendar: Winter, and elections.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that one popular Halloween mask is any famous politician. Two years ago I went out as then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stopped all the other Trick-Or-Treaters, and collected 28% of their candy. The only real drawback was the binding effect of the bra.
I decided not to do that this year, because half the people don’t recognize political figures and the other half got too scared. The Donald Trump outfit is, well, out. Too bad, because the six yards of fake hair wrapped around my head would have gone a long way toward keeping me warm.
That’s always my main criteria in choosing a costume: Warmth. It’s not unheard of to have snow on the ground in northern Indiana by the end of October. It’s also not unheard of for it to be unusually warm, or so some old-timers claim while talking about the Dust Bowl days. Any Hoosier parent will tell you the main task in designing their kid’s costume is incorporating a heavy coat and snow boots. Dressing as an astronaut is very popular.
I stopped celebrating Halloween after realizing I can just go to the store, buy all the candy I want, turn off the porch light and eat it inside, in the warmth.
This time of year I’m diving straight into that hole of despair doctors call Seasonal Affected Disorder, otherwise known as winter. The sound of leaves crunching beneath your feet, the scent of wood burning stoves, “crisp” (a nice way of saying freezing) air? Just Mother Nature dying. No human can produce a Halloween celebration more frightening than staring another Midwest winter in its frostbitten face.
So those times when forced to go out for Halloween, I dressed as an Eskimo. Once, to mix it up, I went as that kid Kenny from South Park, even though it killed me. He dresses as an Eskimo. I’m still not warm – an entire calendar worth of Playmates of the Year couldn’t warm me up in autumn or winter – but at least I’m comforted in the knowledge that I tried.
Now I’m engaged to a woman who loves Halloween. It’s one of her few faults. She refused to marry me until I agreed to go annually to my brother’s Halloween party, which is sadly held outside and is probably his way of dragging me out of the house. Usually I just hover near his wood burning stove in the garage, but in any case Emily says I’ve used up my Eskimo appearances and have to try something new.
Last year we went as zombies. We attended the Zombie Walk in Kendallville, shuffled to a cemetery for a photo op, and then, just for fun, walked into a grocery store and asked if they had any bran. The clerk said, “Last year you were way scarier as Dick Cheney”.
This year we’re trying to do costumes on the cheap, because I’m cheap. That gave me two possibilities, both costumes that can be worn with insulted long underwear:
My adopted brother Martin gave me bags of hand-me-down clothes. Being that I’m a small town white person and he’s a black guy from Fort Wayne (which is big city by my standards), we don’t have exactly the same fashion sense, but see above about me being cheap. I got some nice jeans, slacks and sweaters in the deal, and reminded myself to ask how he has the money to replace perfectly good clothes that he hasn’t yet spilled food on.
Anyway, I found a couple of items that I’m fairly sure he threw in just to mess with me. One was a uniquely loud puffy shirt, the other a pair of oversized parachute pants that button all the way down the side. I refuse to believe he ever wore these things in public.
I’m left with two choices: I can go to Halloween as a stereotypical 70’s disco black guy, or as a clown. While I’ll never be politically correct, we all know I’m not brave enough to tackle the former.
The second choice includes something my mother bought for me, back when she (correctly) assumed I needed to get more fit. It’s an outfit designed to hold in body heat and moisture while you exercise, apparently under the assumption that you’ll sweat yourself healthy. It’s like a portable sauna. I used it once on the treadmill, and lost twelve pounds in thirty minutes. That day I could have gone trick-or-treating as a zombie without needing any makeup, assuming I could walk in a straight line, which I couldn’t.
But now the outfit might have a better, safer use. You see, it’s basically an all silver track suit, neck to toe. A little silver makeup, aluminum foil hat, and – tah-dah! I’m a space alien.
That’s the one I’m thinking of going with, for two reasons:
First, any candy I eat will sweat out of me by the time I make it home.
Second, anything that reflects that much body heat back into me is bound to keep me warm, no matter how cold it gets outside. Since my one and only goal from October through March is staying warm, I might celebrate Halloween for months to come … even if the upcoming political campaign leaves me cold.
And if that doesn’t work, the Eskimo costume is standing by.