Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What to Wear?

Unlike a lot of folks, I never have any trouble figuring out what to wear to a wedding, funeral, or swanky event. For better or for worse, I have been the same jacket size since the Reagan administration, when I bought my first tuxedo. It's a traditional black, Clark-Gable-style monkey suit, with no frills or adornments, and a simple bow-tie. In other words, classic. I take it to the cleaners immediately after the event and store it in a garment bag, and think I look just spiffy, thank you very much. Halloween, on the other hand, always torments me. So many costume ideas, but I can only choose one.

Hey did you know that dressing up in costumes on Halloween is a tradition dating back over 2,000 years? Yeah, the Celts - who lived in what is now England, Ireland, Scotland, and parts of France - celebrated with a festival called Samhain (pronounced "sow-in") right around this time of year. It was more of a harvest festival, and a "let's hope we make it through the winter" type of affair than the high-fructose corn syrup bonanza we know today. They built great bonfires, offered up animal sacrifices, and dressed in costumes made from animal hides, heads, and other gruesomeness. Then they crossed their fingers and hunkered down for the winter. They also felt that at this time of year the boundary between the living and the dead was thin, like a veil, and evil spirits could slip right through and wreak havoc on the souls of the living. Man that's creepy! I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

Anyway, the Romans conquered the Celts and added their own rituals. Then Romans got religion and added Catholic beliefs to create All Saints Day. Then there was the reformation and Protestants added their two cents. And before you know it, everyone left and went to America and created entirely new rituals. Most notably among them was the idea of going door-to-door and begging for treats. Lots of people attribute this to the Irish which, considering the circumstance under which they left the Old World, makes a fair amount of sense. Whatever the case, once large numbers of Irish immigrants began flooding American cities, trick-or-treating began in earnest. And for me, that is what Halloween is all about. That and scaring the bejeezus out of the little kids that come to my door.

Which brings me back around to my costume conundrum. Thought I forgot about that, didn't you? I am not the type to buy a costume. I feel that any good costume, like any good meal, is one that is homemade. But I may be in a dwindling minority on this point. According to some recent statistics, approximately $1 billion will be spent on children's costumes this year, another $1.2 billion on adults, and get this, $310 million on pets. That's right: dogs, cats, ferrets, and anything else you can manage to wrestle into submission long enough to strap a costume to. Combine this with candy sales, and you are talking almost $7 billion dollars spent for this one day. If nothing else, it's comforting to know that in these troubled economic times, everyone has their priorities straight. For my part, I thought I'd find a dead animal along the side of the road, strap it to the top of my head, and go as Donald Trump. But the odor was off-putting, and the turkey vultures didn't give up on the carcass as easily as I thought they might. I kicked around being Mark Zuckerburg. All I'd have to do is wear a black hoodie, stuff my pockets with cash, and make uninspiring speeches all night. But that seems about as fresh as my Lady Gaga costume from last year. I took a bath on all of that prosciutto.

It's almost enough to make me want to skip town and get away from it altogether. I could get a timeshare rental at Mayan Palace Acapulco and celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) instead. Or maybe hit The Hilton Club New York and watch the freaks go by down at the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Then there's always New Orleans, which pretty much has a parade and/or festival for every day of the year, not to mention lots of great timeshares.

But no, that would be running away from my problems, and what kind ambassador does that? I think I just need to hunker down, and go with my gut. Which means I need to get to the drug store right away and lay in as much Fake Bake Sunless Self-Tanning Lotion as I can get my hands on. If I am going to pull this Snooky costume off, I've got be as orange as a carrot by this time next week.

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