I’ve always been a sucker for Halloween. Give me a pumpkin cream and dollar store cauldron and I’m good. The holiday changes once you’re an adult, though – and if you give into your inner Halloween curmudgeon, you can end up with less sugar and more stress. Since I refuse to hang up my witch’s hat, I’m sharing a few suggestions for staying sane on Samhain for grownup goblins and ghosts:
A Grownup’s Guide to Halloween
1. Ditch the dignity. If you really want to get into the Halloween mood, now is not the time to worry about how ridiculous you look wearing a Dracula cape to the office. One year, someone in my office suggested we “all” dress up in costume for Halloween. Getting into the spirit of things, I came to work wearing a leather motorcycle jacket and teased hair, thinking it would be funny to dress as a biker babe. Well, the joke was on me because nobody else dressed up, we had a company-wide meeting, and worst of all? No one realized that my outfit was a costume.
Did I let that dampen my Halloween gusto? Heck no. Before going out that night, I added more hairspray and traded the jeans for fishnets. Because if you’re going to look like a trashy Motley Crue groupie, own it. Did I later wish for something warmer than fishnets on my quest for a cab? Sure. But, on the plus side, several very friendly strangers offered me rides home. Halloween: bringing people together since we stopped burning them.
2. Remember that a little costume goes a long way. And by little, I’m talking the amount of fabric, not creative effort. Ever been in the section of the Halloween store where they stash the costumes for grown women? Party City: puttin’ the “adult” in adult costumes. There’s basically two choices: regular slutty or scary slutty. Regular slutty is your nurse, your cheerleader, belly dancer, etc. Scary slutty is regular slutty meets Elvira. Wear what you want, but I have to doubt the historical accuracy of a witch costume with thigh high slits and a navel-length neckline. If you want to look like a middle-aged Bratz doll, knock yourself out. Just don’t whine if the ‘tricks’ you’re getting offered aren’t made by Hershey.
3. Suck it up, buttercup: Halloween ain’t like it used to be. Certainly not the way it was when we were old enough to trick-or-treat and our parents sent us out the door with a vague warning to stay away from the creepy guy’s house at the end of the street. No one ever explicitly said the neighbor was a pervert, of course. Because that would be rude.
Things are different now and it’s best you face facts. You will be accompanying your kids the entire time. If they are too old for trick-or-treating, you’ll probably be ferrying them to some other appropriate activity, not leaving them at home with a buddy to make prank calls and smoke your cigarettes. (Inhale, cough, gasp that you’re “totally going to barf,” giggle, repeat).
I know that’s terrible and kids, don’t do drugs … but it was fun. Where were my parents? I have no idea. Parents were never home at night during the 80s. They were always at a dinner party. Maybe they were all at the same dinner party; a suburban Last Supper with cheaper wine and shoulder pads.
4. Drink up. Because the only thing worse than trick-or-treating with a kid who’s been mainlining Kit Kats for three blocks sans water bottle? Trolling the ‘hood sober. Trust me; both you and your child will be happier if you’re packing a chilled thermos of water for him and a solo cup of wine for you. A six-pack of beer is too unwieldy and will prevent you from toting the mask, cape, and other accessories that your kid will abandon at some point during the night. A smarter choice is a cocktail bar tucked into a radio flyer wagon. Or golf cart.
5. End on a good note. You’ve made it through the neighborhood, the kids are in bed, and you’re left sitting there, wondering: is this it? Yes. Yes, it is. And consider yourself lucky that you managed to get yourself and your progeny home in one piece. So do yourself a favor – pick out the Snickers from the kiddos’ stash, freshen your drink and put on a scary movie. Because you might be old now, but there is one thing about Halloween that’s just as true whether you’re 14 or 40.
You still can’t watch The Exorcist without covering your eyes.