I tell my Mother I want to be Captain America for Halloween. She
returns with a Batgirl Costume, the only superhero costume our
grocery store had left. I explain to her that Captain America and
Batgirl are two different characters and that I am a boy. She tells
me again it’s all they had left and suggests I don’t wear the mask,
people will think I’m Batman. I tell her Batman has a mask, and does
not have the word "Batgirl" written on his chest. She colors over
the word "Batgirl" and the masks’ bright orange hair with a black
marker. No one will see the hair part of the mask in the dark.
Humiliated but desperate, it does not occur to me until too late
that porches have lights.
I dress as Snoopy being a World War One Flying Ace. In a lackluster
nod toward appearing dog like, I black my nose with shoe polish. It
doesn’t matter, as the costume is built around the authentic cloth
flying helmet and goggles I purchased at the huge Army Navy store in
Provincetown, a tourist community on Cape Cod best known for
promiscuous homosexual activity. I have to explain to every adult
who’s doorbell I ring that I’m Snoopy being a World War One Flying
Ace. I say the words "Sopwith Camel" way too many times for a
1971: HALLOWEEN PARTY; GIRL
I host a Halloween party a few days before Halloween. For reasons I
can no longer recall, I dress as a girl. My look is convincing
enough that several of my guests don’t immediately recognize me.
David Perkins comes dressed as a hockey player. I razz him about his
lack of effort, since he plays hockey and all he did was put on his
equipment. "Shut up, girl." He responds. I am suddenly struck by
what a bad costume choice I have made and the fact that neither my
older brother nor my parents advised me to choose something else.
1973: HALLOWEEN PARTY; GUY WITH BEARD
My discovery of crepe hair and spirit gum so impresses me I decide a
totally realistic looking beard is a good enough Halloween costume.
My party includes a bowling trip and a costume contest. I’m certain
my costume is the best, but my mother decides that as the host, I’m
not eligible to win. She gives the prize, a forty-five single of
"The Entertainer" featured in the movie "The Sting" to Jeffrey
Leighton, who dressed as a pirate. "Hey" says Jeffrey, waving his
store bought, plastic hook hand, "remember your party a couple of
years ago where you dressed as a girl? That was gay."
A college friend of my Mothers, a devout communist, is living with
us during a particularly rough period of her divorce and the return
of her soon to be ex-husband to Albania. Her two children, Raoul and
Uri are staying with us. I recall returning from Trick-or-treating
with them in the dark, bitterly cold New England night, shrieking
that they had totally ruined Halloween. I have no recollection of
what my costume was, what they wore or what they had done to ruin
Halloween. I do recall hating them intensely.
1976: THE BIRD
I have decided this will be my last year trick or treating. I’m
getting too old. I want to go out with a bang and put enormous
effort into my costume, a Superhero of my own invention called "The
Bird." My mother makes me a bright red half mask; (The kind that
leaves the hair visible) designed to my specifications and pictures
of Kid Flash I provide her with. I wear a red turtleneck with a
black leather vest a hippie cousin gave me for my birthday. I design
an insignia, a red circle with a black eagle’s profile, and place it
on the right side of my chest. I then proceed to ruin the so far
successful look I’ve created by wearing a pair of my mothers evening
gloves and her black leather boots, which have heels. None of this
is helped by the fact that my hair, which I consider not only my
best but only good feature, is thick, wavy, and reaches my
shoulders. I have to explain to every adult who’s doorbell I ring
that I’m "The Bird", a Superhero of my own invention. I run into a
group of trick-or-treaters dressed as football players. After a
short exchange of ideas, during which one of the older football
players asks me if I’m supposed to be one of the Hookers frequently
seen on "Baretta", they beat me up.
1978: HALLOWEEN PARTY; DARTH VADER
While I can no longer Trick or Treat and have given up hosting my
own parties, I can still attend parties. I make my own Darth Vader
costume using black jeans, a black turtle neck, black army boots, a
black wool army surplus blanket and black leather gloves, not my
mother’s this time. I spray paint my skate boarding helmet black. I
wear skiing goggles and a hospital mask, which I spray, paint black.
I use black eye shadow makeup to fill in any visible patches of
skin. The make up is my mothers and I will later catch hell for
using it all up. A few minutes into the party I begin to hallucinate
due to concentrated spray paint fumes and soon after black out.
Though I recall nothing, I am informed that I verbally assaulted
someone dressed as a baseball player, demanding he ‘put his money
where his mouth was’ if he was going to call me gay, and that while
the baseball player tried to reason with me, he was eventually
forced to smash me in the head with his bat. An Emergency room
doctor comments that I was lucky to be wearing a helmet. The mask
leaves a black paint line around my mouth that remains visible for
days despite scrubbing that leaves the area around my mouth red and
raw. This facial color combination results in the nickname
"Flintstone" which I will not shake until college.
1994: POPCORN BALLS
My wife and I attempt to make old-fashioned popcorn balls. The
recipe calls for melting and super heating sugar to ‘The hardball
stage’ It does not mention that owing to the physical properties of
sugar, reaching the ‘hardball stage’ takes about five hours. After
pouring popped popcorn into the superheated melted sugar during the
‘hardball stage’; you are instructed to form the resulting mixture
into balls before it cools. The recipe makes no suggestions as to
how one might handle and shape a sticky, glue like mixture hotter
than a branding iron. I repeat the words ‘Hardball stage’ over and
over during this process, first to alleviate boredom and then to
take our minds of the pain of numerous burns.
2003: THE MOUTHS OF BABIES
Standing on our front porch, my three year old daughter Cordellia
shrieks at a group of trick-or-treaters (one of who is dressed as a
soccer player) "HEY YOU FRIGGIN’ KIDS! COME AND GET SOME OF OUR
FRIGGIN’ CANDY!" At no time does anyone question my sexuality.
Halloween is at last redeemed.