In honor of the last day of October, and also because I am awesome, Bloggerstock is taking place! So here is the guest post I've been given by Nicole! If you want to check out the guest post I did, take a look over at Kick Her Right in the Habit! You can read my post here!
Thanks to a lovely things called Bloggerstock, Catherine has allowed me to coopt her blog for the day. Every month, Bloggerstock creates a giant blog ring wherein we all write guest posts for one another on a given theme. The lovely Lily from Is it too early for a martini? is gracing my blog with her awesomeness. I signed up this month without really considering the theme. For Halloween, they have asked us to write something "spooky." They want scary stories, but anyone who isn't awesome enough to write a scary story can just talk about a Halloween costume.
I am terrible at scary stories. I apologize from the get-go if you were eagerly awaiting some awesome horror story. Maybe Catherine delivered something magical like that in her Bloggerstock post, but you will not find it here. Unless, that is, you find ridiculous homemade Halloween costumes terrifying. In which case, I definitely have some gems for you.
Recently on my own blog I have been talking about what a weird kid I was. In elementary school I was fairly well-liked so it took me a little while to put it together and realize that I was a strange child. Halloween helped me figure it out. In kindergarten I, along with every 5-year-old girl in 1993, dressed up as Jasmine. Never mind the fact that I am a pale blonde-haired-blue-eyed child who will never look anything like Jasmine. I had awesome Jasmine pajamas that I wore as my costume. This was vastly inferior to many of the other more elaborate Jasmine costumes. In first grade I was a more generic princess. I was so excited to get to wear this fantastic sparkly skirt that had belonged to my older cousin who, in my 7-year-old mind, was just the coolest person to walk the face of the earth. Again, though, it was clear that my princess costume was a bit lacking.
This one of the first moments that I realized I was never going to excel in at anything conventional. Even among quirky seven-year-olds, I was stand-out quirky. Also, my school gave out prizes for awesome Halloween costumes (this practice was discontinued after I graduated because it was deemed bad for kids' self-esteem.) I realized that Halloween was totally something I could and should be good at.
So in the second grade, I was a spooky tree. I distinctly recall patronizing adults asking me if I was a tree, and responding full of righteous indignation that I was, in fact, "A spooky tree." There was so little respect for my artistic vision. Shameful. I was so unspeakably proud of that brown piece of foam, even though I obviously did none of the actual assembly work for this glorious costume.
My mom was like a fucking magician when it came to this stuff. I think that same year my older brother was a haunted house. My mom actually built a doll-house-esque haunted house with a body-hole in the middle. I think her crowning achievement came a year or two later with my little brother's Gameboy Color costume. Not only was the Gameboy awesome, she made him an equally stellar Toad costume to wear while inside the Gameboy. I think the only problem I have with that costume was the fact that it was too good. It looked store-bought and lacked some of that home-made character.
I only managed to claim second place with my Spooky Tree. I think I lost out to a Raggedy Anne doll. Regardless, it was clear to me that this business of Halloween was more in line with my skill set. In subsequent years I would dress up as a painting and a book.
In the fifth grade my class decided to do a theme thing. Since the whole class voted to do this, our class would be marching in the Halloween parade separately from the other fifth grade classes. (I'm not sure I have made it clear how seriously my elementary school took Halloween. We were upper-middle-class Valley kids. A substantial chunk of our parents - mine not included - made their living doing Hollywood's grunt work.) This meant that I had to either participate in the theme or not march at all.
It also meant that I could kiss my prize goodbye. If I couldn't march, I couldn't be eligible. Even if I did, we were all matching so it wasn't like I stood a chance. This was devastating news for me. I lived for that contest. Elementary school kids aren't actually as inventive as people like to give them credit for, so it wasn't really that difficult to win a prize, since most kids dress up as different variations of the same five or six things. Difficulty wasn't the point. The point was that I was being rewarded for being different. This was huge in my world.
My mom realized how distressed this made me and found me a compromise. It wouldn't get me a prize, but it would satisfy my obsessive need to be different (which, as I mentioned last week, changed a bit the following year). Instead of dressing up like a soldier (which was our theme) like everyone else, we would do a Private Benjamin take on it. She bought me a large camouflage tank top and took in the sides so that it became a dress. It was pretty damn cute and I was a fierce-looking ten year old.
However, true to form, I freaked out on the actual day of the march. In an incident that foretold a pink-polo-shirt debacle the following year, my mom basically told me that I no choice but to march in the dress. I vaguely recall one of my classmates offering me a pair of khaki pants that I could wear. It would have looked fairly stupid, but maybe less defiant than the dress.
Unlike the pink-polo-shirt episode, I'm not really positive about the tears or the level of anxiety. I do, however, distinctly recall my mom telling me that I would regret it if I didn't march in the dress. I would not, however, regret marching in the dress.
And while I know how I felt after marching in the parade with the dress, I know she was at least right about that outcome. I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment for having gone ahead and marched in my cute dress. And all of the other little girls asked me where I got my cute dress because they all wanted one too.
So my childhood struggles were not actually spooky, but they were filled with life lessons. Halloween is still one of my favorite holidays because of everything that it represents to me. In college I joined my school's annual productions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This, again, embodies all of this self-expression, dare-to-be-different awesomeness that makes Halloween such a great holiday. The first year that I participated was a personal test; it was liberating for somebody plagued with body image issues to be able to walk around campus in a corset and fishnets. Stone cold sober.
Halloween is amazing because it is the one time of the year where we are all actively encouraged to step outside of ourselves for a little while. My second year in Rocky Horror I was upgraded from tranny to Riff Raff. (1) This is a male role. (2) He's on of the few people who wears clothing for most of the show. (3) This meant I had to actually sing solos (!!!). Now that I had gotten all comfortable with running around in lingerie I had to put my clothes back on...It was big terrifying step for me in its own right, having nothing to do with the wearing or not-wearing of clothing. I had to push myself (and the ears of our poor audience), and I was grateful for it, because that's what Halloween is all about.
So in the interest of leaving you with something a little spooky, BEHOLD: