Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's "Halloweek"

The perils and pitfalls of a seemingly endless Halloween season.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 9:46 AM

I need to make this quick, because I have to finish building a four-foot-tall crayon from Amazon boxes and craft paper. I’d say that this creation will be my daughter’s Halloween costume, but the truth is, it’s one of several costumes she has worn or will wear this year. It’s like a Lady Gaga concert around here this Halloween.

Some time back, I actually had the thought “Oh, it’s too bad Halloween is on a Wednesday, it’s going to pass without notice.” But no, thanks to some unknown force that I suspect is housed in the stock room of Walgreens, instead of having one quiet schoolnight holiday, we’ve somehow turned it into Halloweek. Festivities have been going on consistently since last Thursday – fall festivals, friends’ parties, neighborhood parades, classroom celebrations. And at each of these events, a costume is required, so we’ve been rotating through a wardrobe of thrift store and dress-up chest finds.

Plus a costume isn’t really a costume without proper hair and make-up. As the rightful heiress to a former Mary Kay lady who diligently applied Wicked Witch greenface and Popeye tattoos, this is a job I take seriously, but I’m beginning to get a callous from sketching eyeliner scars on tween zombies.

To add to this year’s Halloworkload, my daughter decided that she wanted an actual factual homemade costume this year – something not store-bought or premanufactured. Of course, her only frame of reference for such a thing was apparently Foto Hut prints from the early 1980s, so the only option for a hand-made costume she was aware of was a Crayola crayon. It’s like the costume equivalent of a fruitcake; no one likes it, but it’s just always there. I guess I’m lucky she hasn’t seen To Kill a Mockingbird yet or I’d be fashioning a papier-mâché ham right now.

As I realized I’d drawn my perfect freehand rendition of the Crayola logo in landscape instead of portrait orientation, I plowed ahead, trying not to think of how ashamed Jason Smith would be of such work. Jason is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and my earliest memory of him is from Halloween, 1986. I’d thrown on a bowler hat and a mascara mustache and called it a day. Jason, however, was in a perfectly rendered Ewok costume. Not some pre-fab number, either; a family friend had hand-sewn it from fake fur. Ever since, Jason’s Halloween costumes have set the bar impossibly high – he’s been highly realistic versions of Teen Wolf, the Iron Giant, and my personal favorite, the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

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Well, my next-to-favorite. Jason’s costume this year was at a whole new level. A very proud new papa, he combined his love of Halloween with his love of his baby girl and came up with a costume concept that was heard ‘round the interwebs. If you saw the picture of a baby commanding a bright yellow Caterpillar Power Loader from Aliens, that was Jason and his daughter. Pictures and video of the outfit went viral, showing up everywhere from the Huffington Post to Wil Wheaton’s Twitter feed.

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The reaction was astoundingly positive. In an online world where a troll is waiting under every comment field, feedback has been almost universally supportive. As it should be. The whole thing is unabashedly awesome. And during a week when the news is filled with dire warnings, both from meteorologists and political pundits, it’s incredibly refreshing to bear witness to someone bringing some light and happiness into the world, with no agenda but a hope to delight. Plus he wrote the Internet a lovely thank you note.

It feels like this last week has been an endless parade of spooky make-believe, but really, it’s only going to get worse in the week ahead. There are important issues to get resolved (and Minnesota, I’m expecting your A game), but there will be a lot of foolishness to wade through first. Maybe the best way to prepare is to remember the joy of not taking yourself too seriously.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go try on a pointy crayon hat.

Happy (end of!) Halloween, y’all.

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