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Halloween Can Be A Drag
by Michele Christopher
My kids don’t wear costumes anymore. They’re 16 and 13. Halloween is more about shaving cream and silly string than anything else. Well, there’s the candy. There’s always the candy. You never outgrow that.
I have to say, I don’t miss the shopping for Halloween costumes. That was complete torture. Especially when the type of costume one could wear was dictated by a school administration that seems hell bent on shielding every individual person from any and every single thing that might, even in some small way, offend them. Or give them thoughts that they might be offended. Or feel in any way slighted. Or scared. In short, they’ve sucked the fun right out of Halloween and turned into yet another “Let’s see what kind of educational material we can get out of this” day.
I don’t want to get into a back in the day thing, but...... back in the day.....well, we were allowed to dress up in costumes that dripped fake blood without worrying about being callous toward anyone who may have had an experience with a knife-wielding maniac. We were allowed to bring daggers and swords and all kinds of weapons with our costumes without the teachers worrying that we were creating a hostile environment for any children who may be proponents of peaceful mediation of conflicts rather than the old “I’ll fucking cut you, asshole” way of doing things. We were bums (sorry, "displaced residents") and hobos (sorry, "frugal travelers") and witches (sorry, "alternative religion worshipers"). Now you can't even be a freaking ghost without the principal accusing of you being insensitive to Jenny, whose grandmother passed away four weeks ago. I'm just betting that somewhere in the student body is a person whose ethnicity is Transylvanian.
I guess it doesn't matter because they don't have Halloween parades or classroom parties in the schools anymore. Those families that aren't offended by the imagery or the occult undertones or the inferred violence of the festivities will just protest the amount of candy or frosted cupcakes given out in the classroom. Or the time taken away from actual classwork. God forbid these kids have a little holiday fun during the day. Because fifteen minutes away from fractions while parading around the school dressed as half gallon of milk will certainly kill your chances of getting into Harvard ten years from now. Oh wait. You can't wear that milk costume. The vegan offshoot of the PTA will come running after you faster than a PETA member after Colonel Sanders. They'll smear you with fake blood. "DENIED!" Maybe we're better off not dressing up. The potential "you caused me undue emotional distress" lawsuits make me nervous about it.
About four years ago, our school district started sending home a standard note in early October.
In order to curb the proliferation of bloody, gory, disgusting costumes that kids have taken to wearing on Halloween, they have instituted a new ruler: The kids can only come to school in costume on Halloween if they are dressed in the theme of "Heroes." That's literary or historical heroes.
You see what they did there? The administration has effectively kept the kids from covering themselves in blood and half eaten flesh without exactly telling them that they can't dress up at all. Because really, what kid is going to dress up as a literary hero? None. And they know this.
The first year we did this, we thought we'd give it a try. We went to the party store to scope out the Halloween costumes and we were surprised to see that they actually sold a line of American Heroes costumes.
We stood looking at the Ben Franklin costume. There were a bunch of other parents and kids from the school in the store. We gathered around the American Heroes display, sort of snickering at the idea of a teenager wanting to dress up in one of these costumes.
Then one dad had an idea. "We could always...you know....embellish the costumes" he said. Take the Ben Franklin costume, he explained. Add a key and a kite. Stick the kid's hair straight up. Use some make up to add burn marks to the face. Ben discovers electricity the hard way!
We ran down the list of literary and real heroes.
Julius Caesar with a knife sticking out of him? Beowulf with torn limbs in his mouth? How about explorers? Nothing like a little raping and pillaging to go along with Halloween. Oh, yea, the idea for the Lincoln costume was a bit tasteless, but it doesn't get much easier than putting a hole in a hat.
By this time the kids were gathered in the corner of the store, stocking up on silly string and colored hairspray and pretending not to know us. I wonder why.
Anyhow, I don't have to worry about this shit anymore. My kids are happy enough to take a few cans of shaving cream and go torture each other in the streets.
But it does remind me of the last time we had fun shopping for costumes. October 30, 2001 on a last minute costume run.
Happy Halloween from the Gauntlet.
Michele likes to dress up like Santa Claus on Halloween and tell all the little kids who show up at her door that Santa is really an axe murderer.