Once upon a time in our collective distant memory – or maybe just on TV, which is more or less the same thing – October meant apple cider, jack o’ lanterns, and small children in witch hats toting pillow cases full of candy. Now we know fall has arrived when temporary Halloween stores start popping up in every empty storefront in America – which, in these dismal times, means pretty much everywhere. Go into one of these stores and you will see costumes that can only be described as sexy (unless you prefer the more colloquial “skanky”): sexy nurse, sexy pirate, sexy vampire. On other, less fishnet-heavy rows, you’ll find prisoner costumes, superhero unitards, Freddy Krueger masks, and wigs. Lots and lots of wigs: hippy, Elvis, afro. A few years ago, you could even buy a Kate Gosselin wig.
Another way to know that Halloween is approaching: the newspapers (now that they’re all online, perhaps we should call them “newspapers”) will start running their adults-won’t-grow-up editorials. You know what I’m talking about. Halloween is for children. But now Halloween has become a [fill in the blank with a big number] dollar industry because adults are dressing up. And you know why adults are dressing up? Because they want to be children!
To this, I say, Pfft. Every year on one night in late October, I send my children away and throw an adults-only Halloween bash that some call the party of the year and others, on attending for the first time, tell me is the best party they’ve ever been to. You know why my party is the best? Because there’s no competition! In the darkest depths of suburbia, my Halloween party seems to be one of the few get-togethers that doesn’t involve Round Table pizza, sports trophies, or a Costco veggie tray. Months ahead of time, friends, neighbors, and… whoever else is on the guest list (which has frankly gotten a bit out of control) will ask me if I’ve set a date so they don’t schedule anything else. Sometime around August, people start finalizing costumes.
A friend once gave me sage party advice: As long as the food is good and the bathrooms are clean, nothing else really matters. The first time I threw my Halloween party, I – along with some friends armed with power tools – filled my yard with over twenty-five jack o ‘lanterns. Now I settle for two or three. (Have you ever tried disposing of twenty-five jack o’lanterns in a warm climate? Not pretty.) I’ve accumulated plenty of decorations over the years, but the real scenery is costumes. Queen Elizabeth. Andy Warhol. Kate Gosselin. Sexy pirate. Another sexy pirate. The food is always good. More to the point, the alcohol is plentiful. One time a cub scout leader dressed as Courtney Love stayed in character for the entire evening. Another year a baseball coach disguised as Richard Simmons led an exercise class. “Richard” felt embarrassed after the fact. “Courtney” did not.