Sunday, October 27, 2013

Witch or Sexy Penguin?

I love Halloween. Not the ghosts and ghouls and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night part of it, but all the dressing up. As a former drama major, I welcome any reason to put on a costume.

My husband and I, along with another couple, recently bought tickets for a masquerade ball in an antique mansion in our New England town. The party was sponsored by the local Arts Association, and we heard through the grapevine that they were going all out with decorations, refreshments and entertainment. It was scheduled for the Saturday night before Halloween. This meant that the Saturday morning before Halloween I started pulling out costumes.

Story of my life, sadly. Everything I do these days could be described as "just in time manufacturing."

Anyway, we have a trunk of dress-up bits in our cellar. Fancy gloves and costume jewelry, fairy wings, wigs, and elaborate feathered masks from New Orleans' French Market. Our plan was to take an elegant, minimalist approach. My husband would wear his wedding tuxedo. (Yes, he still fits in it, 21 years later. Suffice it to say, zipping myself into my wedding gown would be frightening.) I would wear a long embroidered Chinese coat. We would both wear the aforementioned feather masks.

Er, or not. When we pulled them out, they looked a little sad and bedraggled. On to Plan B.

The masks were a crucial piece of our costumes (let's face it, they were our costumes), so after an hour at the local Y, I drove to a Halloween "pop-up shop" in a neighboring town.

(Quick aside: Saturday was also the annual costume Zumba class. We were all supposed to dress as popular musicians. I was the only Bob Marley in a sea of Gagas. But, I digress.)

I quickly found an entire aisle of Venetian Carnvial masks. They were gorgeous and quite reasonably priced. I chose a long-beaked "Naso Scaramouche" in black with gold patina for my husband and a silver brocade, trimmed with lace and rhinestones for myself. Mission accomplished.


Trying to get in and out of a Halloween store on the Saturday before said holiday was easier said than done. It took me less than five minutes to choose the masks. It took me another 35 to get through the long line that snaked along the perimeter of the shop. I went by an aisle of adorable baby costumes (bees, lady bugs, pumpkins), by another filled with creepy decorations and animated lawn ornaments. Then, I hit trick or treat pay dirt. 

The aisle of Halloween hoochies and hos.

WTF? I had arrived in the land where less is truly more. As in: less fabric, more skin. The typical costume included a bare-midriff or corset top; a short, short (short, short) skirt; and some combination of fishnet stockings, long gloves, garters, a headpiece and/or wings. It was like Halloween with The Girls Next Door at the Playboy Mansion. (Every package, btw, featured a pretty, pouting model who looked 16, exactly my daughter's age.)

There were sexy nurses, sexy vampires, sexy fairies, sexy superheroes, sexy gypsies, sexy pirate wenches. Then there were the sexy animals. Some that made sense (in a warped way), like sexy kittens, foxes and bunnies. Some that didn't, like sexy penguins. Sexy penguins???

Last, but not least, there were the sexy inanimate objects. Sexy crayons, sexy beer bottles, sexy pizza slices, and my all-time favorite: sexy candy corn.

Because nothing says “Happy Halloween” like a sexy piece of candy corn.

I understand that the whole thrill behind wearing a costume is that it gives you a chance to put on another piece of your personality. But why do so many of the options for teen girls feel more like taking off than putting on?

In one of my favorite scenes from the Sex and the City movie, Carrie joins Miranda to shop for costumes and trick or treat candy. Miranda looks at her options with disdain; the only choices for a grown woman: “Witch or sexy kitty?”

Sexy kitty, sexy penguin, they’re all pretty much the same. I’d rather be a witch. 

And — thank goodness — my daughter would too. 

If you enjoyed this post, order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at

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