Halloween is trickier than it used to be. Like everything else, the upcoming holiday becomes a bit more complicated when your little girl becomes a little woman. A catsuit on a 4-year old is adorable. A catsuit on a 14-year old is suddenly a little too tight, a little too curvy, a little too much.
We live in the town next door to Salem, Massachusetts. As you probably learned in school, Salem Village (which is technically Danvers now) was the site of a horrible witch hunt, trials and public hangings some three hundred twenty years ago. If you study the period (or just rent the movie The Crucible), you recognize that what happened was a shameful result of ignorance, greed, religious intolerance and mass hysteria. Not really history that a town should be particularly proud of.
However, today, Salem has proclaimed itself Halloweentown. All through October, there are street fairs, carnival rides and "haunted happenings." I kind of understand the witch attractions (although I think they're disrespectful to the memories of those falsely accused and put to death in 1692). I don't understand the vampire attractions, except — I guess — vampires are trendy right now thanks to Twilight and True Blood. Regardless, the town makes a lot of merry (and a lot of money) throughout the month. And, those of us who live in the area avoid it at all costs.
A couple of years ago, my brother and his family came to visit us. They wanted to experience a Salem Halloween, so I drove them to the border and dropped them off, hightailing it home. When they had had enough ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night, I had to go back into the fray to collect them. One wrong turn and I was stuck in a hellish traffic jam. I tried to be zen about it, breathing, meditating, and taking the opportunity to do some unparalleled people-watching. The costumes on the happy Halloweeners were tremendous. There were countless witches, zombies, psychotic clowns, pirates, headless horsemen. And then I saw her ...
The Candy Corn Ho.
I had never seen anything quite like it. Sort of a bodacious St. Pauly Girl look, a buxom blonde in an Alpine-inspired (perky bust extending above the shelf of her bodice) short short dress. Garters, stockings, high heels. But, the strange thing was that the entire sleazy outfit was made to look like a piece of candy corn.
Halloween costumes for young women veer toward the slutty, no doubt. There are naughty nurses, precocious schoolgirls, lingerie-clad witches, Playboy bunnies. I'm probably not the target audience, but I would assume that these outfits (or lack thereof) correspond to (a) the woman's inner vision of her own secret centerfold nature and (b) a man's fantasy of what makes a hot chick hot. I don't like it, but I get it.
But, when did candy corn become sexy?
I did a little research. Here is the evolution of the Candy Corn Ho, from sweet baby to tempting teen to all out hoochie mama:
Happily, my tween daughter is still more interested in collecting Kit Kat bars and hanging out with her friends than in letting it all hang out. This year, she's either going to be a pirate or a hippie. (And, with a little oversight from her mother, she will not be a slutty pirate wench or a hippie who is tripping on acid at Woodstock and forgot which VW van she left her top in.)
Hoochie ho's aside, Halloween will be fun. But, I do wish we could go back to the more innocent days of Teletubbies and Disney princesses. I'll just have to settle for the little ones who come to the door.
Here's a holiday treat from one of my favorite urban folk singers, Jill Sobule. Happy Halloween.