My father doesn’t believe in Halloween. It’s not because the pagan holiday goes against his religious beliefs. He’s an atheist. He’s also an old-school West Indian man, Haitian to be precise. Dressing up, going to door-to-door to beg for candy was one of the many “American” things he frowned upon. If teachers sent him notices for us to dress up for school, he’d take us shopping for cheap costumes. He also begrudgingly took us shopping for multi-packs of library card sized Valentine’s Day cards in February.
I never felt like I was missing out on Halloween. My father always kept the house and his car stocked with all kinds of candy and gum. He also gave us pocket money to buy more candy and junk food at the corner store after school. I ate so much candy as a kid that I now avoid it. Miraculously I’ve never had a single cavity. Despite my lack of interest in Halloween, I’m not a grouch about it. Over the years I’ve lived in several apartments. If they happen to be ground level, I buy a bag of candy in case I get trick-or-treaters.
As an adult, I’ve only dressed up three times for Halloween. Each time was for a party. The first time was in 2000. Borrowing old clothes and jewelry from family members, and a cane from a neighbor, I dresed as a pimp or no name seventies Blaxplotation character. The brown pleather platform shoes were already a staple in my wardrobe, but I purchased the curly afro wig. I cut snippets of curls and taped them to my chest to peak out through my open butterfly collar. I bought a cheap pair of what I called Elvis sunglasses to complete the look.
I was proud of my creativity. There was another person dressed as a pimp, but his was a store bought three piece outfit. The purple velvet pants and top minus the matching hat with black feather could easily be mistaken or worn for pajamas. Tim and conceded that my pimp costume was far superior to his. Other people dressed as a Genie in a bottle, the lead character from Clockwork Orange and weird characters that I have no idea what they were.
I don’t know what inspired me to be a pimp. Perhaps a dare. The next two times I dressed up I went the “slutty version of” route. A few years later I was a slutty Little Red Riding Hood. I braided my shoulder length locs into two pigtails, wore red thigh high fishnet stockings and carried a basket with Hershey’s Kisses and Trojan condoms. Before I left the party, my basket had been robbed of all its contents by other partygoers.
The third and final time I dressed up, I was a slutty, gothic nurse. The black patent leather nurse’s uniform stopped above the knee. once again I donned fishnet stockings–this time black stockings and I ripped holes in them. I painted my nails black, wore black lipstick and carried a fake IV blood bag that came with the costume. It was too cumbersome to carry the huge fake needle, which resembled a turkey baster.
It’s been years since I’ve dressed up for Halloween. For the past three years, my office has encouraged people to do so. There’s even a contest. I don’t participate, but I enjoy looking the costumes and voting.I don’t think my dress up days are behind me, especially if I have kids one day. I love the idea of couples and family costumes. But for now, the little girl in me is content masquerading around as an adult.