Life has many perfect moments and here is one of mine:
October 31st, 1976. Halloween happened to coincide with our weekly Brownies meetings, so instead of our usual poop brown uniforms and orange sashes, we little brownies donned our Halloween costumes and lined up in the gym at Stone Valley School for a costume contest. I was a semblance of Minnie Mouse: my mom's white gloves, black leotard, black tights, a little black hood (that I wore for many subsequent Halloweens), and genuine mouse ears from Disneyland with a little bow and rose that had "Karen" embroidered on the back. But the piece de resistance was the skirt, a little white ruffly skirt with blue kitties all over it. (My mom and I thought it was hilarious to be a mouse while wearing cats.) And for the contest itself, a pair of my mom's shoes. (The rest of the day I'd worn Mickey Mouse tennis shoes.)
Hopped up on sugar because of all the candy and cupcakes we'd devoured all day, we all bounced in place and giggled as the Brownie leaders and several older Girl Scouts looked us over, and judged our costumes. There were different categories -- funniest, cutest, etc. etc. But the crowning moment came when the troop leader said, "And the best costume is... Minnie Mouse."
It was my shining moment of greatness. I remember her voice, the absolute thrill and pleasure simply coursing through my veins as I shyly clomped in my mom's shoes to get my prize: a little bag of candy corn. Candy corn and success have never tasted so sweet since.
Ironically, I don't really like Halloween, thanks to habitual barfing (either from candy or cocktails, over-indulgence being the theme) and the fact I worked at a vintage store for 8 years, and Halloween was our busy season. (I was always amazed at how ignorant and moronic college students were, either not having any sort of pop cultural clue or their penchant for being as pimpin' or slutty as possible.) Working there completely ruined the holiday for me. We were always exhausted by Halloween, and all I ever wanted to do was go home and crash. (There are several years there where I should have done just that.)
But even though Halloween isn't my favorite, I'm actually pretty good at it. Thanks to my mom always making my costumes, and then years of being a dorky new waver (every day is Halloween, I looked so absurd, I looked so obscene), and eight years outfitting girls who should know better as hookers or *giggle* sexy angels! *giggle*, I'm not bad, even when it's last minute and thrown together from crap in my own closet. (My senior prom dress from 1926 has served its purpose well as many flapper Halloweens.) I've even won a few costume contests since that fated day as Minnie Mouse.
A few years ago, I actually listed all my Halloween costumes, and here they are for your reading and mocking pleasure:
1972 -- a witch
I only remember this because of this picture.
My parents totally decorated when I was little, hence the skeletons. My dad would put the record player behind the planter with "The Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House" ("I don't even speak Chinese!") playing, and answer the door like Lurch. ("You raaaang?")
1973 -- store bought Raggedy Ann
I loved this, even though it was dumb. My mom hated these kind of costumes, and I can't believe she let me get this. Maybe she was tired that year or I threw a fit in the supermarket. But I loved it so much that I wore it AROUND THE HOUSE. Actually, I just wore the mask (I insisted), and my dress with Raggedy Anns all over it. But I wore the store bought smock waaaay after Halloween. I remember that year I was obsessed with Miss America because I had the Colorforms, so maybe that's why she got me the Raggedy Ann -- she didn't want her child trucking around the neighborhood in a bikini. Perhaps that's what led to my life long love of tiaras, because I was denied.
1974 -- The scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz
Um, I have no idea why I decided to be the scarecrow and not Dorothy, or even the lion. But I was waaaaay into it. We took the picture from the book and my mom crafted it perfectly out of old brown, ratty fabric. We even had STRAW. That part wasn't so comfortable, but I remember thinking, I have the best costume EVER.
1975 -- Indian
Had to do something with the leftover fabric from the year before, and I got to wear make-up and a WIG.
1976 -- Minnie Mouse
The aforementioned shining glory of my life.
1977 -- a cat
Same black leotard. Same black tights. Same black hoodie thing my mom sewed ears on. Green skirt. We copied the makeup from Peter Criss. So basically I was KISS for Halloween. Total disappointment after my stunning victory the year prior.
1978 -- A Hula Dancer
This was, by far, the most ridiculous costume EVER. We had just gone to Hawaii, where we picked up a grass skirt and plastic lei. Okay, fine. But A. It was cold and B. I look about as Hawaiian as an albino. So my mom made me wear a brown turtleneck and brown corduroy pants, and a gross CURLY brown wig (that used to be hers) and dark brown foundation. Mahalo a lot, Mom.
1979 -- Annie
I've already told you about my Annie obsession. But this was the closest to being Annie as I ever got. I wore an old red dress with a collar made out of dingy white felt, and another one of my mom's old curly wigs. My parents tried to get me to put Ritz crackers over my eyes (like the comics) for a picture but I refused because I thought that was dumb because her eyes weren't like that in the play. Duh!
Junior high... I was probably at home sulking, because what can you be with braces and crummy hair? I probably wanted to go as a a roller disco goddess or something. But it possible that I went as Pippi Longstocking, the one costume I didn't need a wig for.
Eighth grade -- PIERROT
The last of the hand made mom costumes. I was getting too old, but was into, uh, PIERROT and rainbows and unicorns. So gross. But the costume was beautiful and I got lots of candy.
Ninth grade... probably stayed home and sulked, or dressed up all "punk rock" and went and played video games. Thankfully, there are some things you don't remember.
Sophomore year -- MOD.
Well, Bob Smith and I just wore our regular clothes and went trick or treating -- it was IRONIC because we were too old, but we just wanted to get out of our houses and get free candy and freak people out. So when people said, "What are you supposed to be?" we rolled our eyes and like, "DUH" and said, "MOD." SO SO SO SO LAME.
Junior Year -- that alien thing from Buckaroo Banzai
My friend Traecy had a rubber mask that looked like the alien in Buckaroo Banzai... I can't even remember what it was, but we LOVED that movie. So I wore my regular clothes and the mask. Our friend Karin worked at some restaurant, but she didn't get off till 8 and we went in and waited for her so we could all go to Dolce, the cafe where we all hung out. I was thirsty so I got a coke and put the mask on, but was drinking it out of a straw through the eyehole. we all thought it was HILARIOUS. Karin's boss didn't think so -- he kicked us out and fired Karin. She was going to get fired, anyway, but we spent the rest of the night consoling her. I don't think I did a bang up job wearing the mask.
Senior year -- TWO costumes: My friend Doofus and Dusty Springfield
That year, we went to a club in San Francisco, and I went as Dusty Springfield. Just because I thought it would be cool. I had a teased out wig and wore a TON of eye makeup. And looking back, it was cool.
But on actual Halloween night, my friend Andrea and I got the idea to go as our friends -- she went as our punk rock friend Julyan, and I went as our doofy friend Doofus. (Poor kid to endure that nickname. Rumor has it he became a doctor. I hope so -- "Doctor Doofus" is just too good.) Black hairspray, lots of gel, eyeliner, pegged pants, "cholo" shoes, and a tee shirt that I wrote Tears for Fears on, his favorite band.) Doofus, however, went as Curt Smith from Tears for Fears. Julyan didn't dress up. We went to the City but didn't go anywhere -- we all felt way too stupid to be seen in public.
College freshman year-- I didn't dress up -- I was too cool and sophisticated. (Though I probably went out and drank a bunch of wine coolers and barfed. Real sophisticated.) Except some of my friends borrowed my clothes, 'cause, like, my clothes were funny and retro! My roommates went to Isla Vista as sexy devils. Sigh.
Blur until senior year, when I was a Beatnik. My best friend Monica was Madonna. We went to the freakshow on Santa Monica Blvd, where we ogled an ugly queen dressed like Divine, and then... tragedy struck. Remember those old cereal commercials that had SOGGIES? They were these cartoon thingies that were supposed to be soggy cereal. Kinda creepy. Anyway, Monica, my gay ex fiance #2 Joe and I were standing there, laughing at the ugly queen who was shouting obscene insults at people, when suddenly this THING dressed as a Soggy grabbed Monica and took off running full speed with her. One second she was there, and the next second she was abducted. We chased them down the street, and then he let her go and she went sprawling. It was hilarious, but really weird.
Somewhere in there I wore some ears and went to the Castro, and had food poisoning and threw up. I was SOBER.
Flash forward... Flapper
My friend Julie worked at a hair salon in the Castro which The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence used as a dressing room for the festivities, so she invited us to the party. I brought a bottle of vodka, but there were no mixers, and the liquor store was out. So Ilhan (dressed as The Ugliest Woman Alive) and I drank it straight from the bottle. A Sister said, "Giiiiirl, you really know how to party!" An hour later I threw up on that very Sister. Not my best moment, but lovingly caught on film by The Ugliest Woman Alive.
1993 or 1994 (?) -- Eddie from Ab Fab
My best friend Kelly was Patsy, and I was Eddie. It was GENIUS. Without even meaning to, we never stayed out of character. We both barfed, and I lost my hat.
Flash forward.. 1996 -- Sexy cat
There was a time in my life that I was super skinny, and thought I was super hot. And what do ego-inflated skinny girls dress as? Sexy cats. (But without the KISS makeup, ala my cat from 1977.) Even I wasn't immune to the slutty costume fever. Ugh. I was a sexy cat (actually, Ann-Margret as a kitten with a whip, ha. Ha.) three nights in a row that year -- once at a boring party, once at a more fun party (that I chose to go to instead of my high school reunion -- a good choice on my part), and again at a Cramps show. By then, the costume had taken its toll. I went out straight after work with no dinner, and got so obliterated that I wound up barfing under the table, and then passed out on the street where a bum gave me a blanket. CHARMING.
1997 -- Weird fairy thing
I wore a black tee shirt, tiara, and wand and lots of eyeshadow. It was pretty boring, but I was so tired from work it was all I could muster.
Then the years get muddled, but one thing's for sure -- I never bought candy because I never had any trick or treaters.
Flash forward -- Bananaram.
My friend Lara and I thought it would be funneee if we went to New Wave City, a club that plays 80's new wave hits, dressed as Bananarama. Only whoever was supposed to be the third part flaked out, so we were just Bananaram. Somehow I had convinced my friend JK to come with us, and he dressed up as John Cusack in Say Anything, with a trenchcoat with rolled up sleeves and everything. Totally out of character for this guy. We laughed at each other all night.
Flash forward -- Haysi Fantayzee
I went to Amber's annual Halloween party where the only person who knew who I was (everyone thought I was Boy George) dressed as was a guy dressed as Slim Jim meat stick and kept following me around, saying, "I have the Shiny Shiny import 12 inch!" and I said, "I don't really like them -- I just thought it was a funny costume." (FYI -- Haysi Fantayzee was a really crummy band from the 80's, and the members did look like Boy George, even though they maintained HE stole the look from THEM. Their song repertoire included such "hits" as "Shiny Shiny" and "John Wayne Big Leggy." Um, yeah. I know. )
2002 (?) -- Norma Desmond
I went as Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, and what was cool was that my friend Alec went with me as Max. (He didn't have to do much for the costume.) We went to The Parkway movie theater to see Bucket of Blood, and Alec kept making me do Gloria Swanson impressions. It was really, really boring. We won a prize, though.
2003 -- A reject from Beyond The Valley of The Dolls and Haysi Fantayzee redux
I went to a nightclub and wore this ghastly 1960's one piece hot pink nylon jumpsuit with lace ruffles and an enormous wig I borrowed from my friend Sean, and went as the missing member of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' Carrie Nations. It was an absolutely horrible costume.
But on Halloween night, I recycled the Haysi Fantayzee costume again and it ruled. I actually put thought into it, and made Pat go as Adam Ant so we could have an 80's theme going. We went to The Loved Ones show at The Ivy Room, which was so fun. My friend Jamie went as a mulleted cave-man, and kept pounding on the ceiling with his club after every song, 'CAVE MAN LIKE LOVED ONES!!!" I think everyone wanted to kill us. But I won Best Costume and money and free drinks for the rest of the night, only by the time the contest rolled around, I had drunk enough to drown a small mammal so the free drinks prize was useless. And they thought I was Boy George.
2004 -- Nancy Sinatra
I just recycled Sean's wig and wore knee high boots and a turtleneck and mini-skirt. But my boots were made for sleepin'; I went home and went to bed, avoiding the two trick or treaters that knocked on my door. (I never bought candy.)
2005 -- sickly, not sexy, flapper
Not bad for coming up with a costume that afternoon. And it was the best, stress free Halloween EVER. A bunch of purple eyeshadow under the eyes, same old flapper outfit and voila! Spooky!
The last few years -- cat ears. If that. And kind of getting over the whole going out and getting dressed up and messed up. And now that we live in a house instead of an apartment, I have to buy candy for the hoards of goblins at the door, and be there to dole out the treats so we don't get tricked.
And you know, thinking back while writing this, I don't really hate Halloween after all. I've had a really good time, starting with that little witch costume, and knowing my mom, even before that. I was lucky she made my costumes, and I was lucky that even though my parents hated it, they let me be creative and weird on a daily basis as a teenager and beyond. And let's face it -- I LOVE CANDY.
So this year I'll be staying home, and it's okay with me. I'll appreciate everyone else's costumes. But if I did go out, this is who I'd be:
Little Edie always has the best costume of the day!
Happy Halloween, everyone! Be safe and SPOOKY!
Twenty down, seventy seven to go.