Dear Planners of the Halloween Festivities in My Town,
I know what you were thinking. I get it. I really do. A bunch of you were sitting in a room, discussing the upcoming clusterfuck that is the “Downtown Business Trick-or-Treat” and you were trying to find ways to simultaneously make it less crowded and encourage even more people to attend. It’s a difficult position to be in, really. I know.
And then you started to reminisce, about how it was “back in the day”, when you were kids. How everyone’s costume was HOME-MADE! You didn’t just go out and buy a costume, your mother worked and slaved at the sewing machine until you had a reasonably fantastic costume version of Mickey Mouse/Howdy Doody/a puppy. It was so much better, so much more creative! Then your minds started churning, and someone threw out the suggestion: Why not offer prizes, but only for home-made costumes?
Wow, you thought, what a great idea! How clever we all are! Except the thing is, you are sort of not clever at all. You are, in actuality, sort of douchebags.
Do you really not get it?
Here is the thing. The Trick-or-Treating festivities are geared towards children “ages 2 through 8”. Now, let me ask you, how many children ages 2 through 8 do you know who are capable of constructing a costume themselves, without additional help? I’m waiting for your answer.
Oh, you figure parents can “help”. I see. So, a prerequisite for entering the costume contest here is having a parent who is willing, able, and available to help construct a costume. Here’s the thing: that eliminates even a solidly middle class, over-involved, at-home yuppie parent like myself. Know why? I’ll tell you. BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SEW. That’s right, even I, someone who was raised by an exquisitely skilled seamstress who tried time and again to teach her how to sew, lack the know-how required to affix fabric to other fabric using a needle and thread.
Oh, you didn’t think of that. I see. You just assumed that everyone knows how to sew? Or that we could construct costumes out of garbage bags and feathers like in the early-season episodes of “Project Runway”? Hmm.
Here’s what I think. I think that you’re elitist (because only kids from wealthier families have parents with that kind of free time), sexist (because this kind of shit always falls on whose lap? MOM’S. Oh, and also for limiting categories beyond “scary” and “funny” to “princess” and “military”…where do you think we are, Mississippi?) hopelessly out of touch with reality (for failing to recognize that we’re in the midst of an enormous economic downturn, that most families today have 2 adults each working over 40 hours a week, and that store-bought costumes are probably both less expensive and better than whatever most people would be able to construct themselves). Mostly, though; I think you’re douchebags for effectively punishing small children for the actions or inactions of their parents.
And, for the record, my son chose his own costume. It was a pirate one he found at my favorite store of humiliation, the Christmas Tree Shop, and he wouldn’t be swayed from buying it no matter how I cajoled. It cost me $9.95, a hell of a lot less than a sewing machine, thread, fasteners and notions, 4 kinds of material, scissors, a pattern, and instruction on how to turn all those things into a costume would have.
There are two kinds of people in the world. (Ok, there are a helluva lot more than two kinds of people in the world, but for the sake of this entry, we’re going to focus on two.) The kind who gleefully frequent stores like Christmas Tree Shops and their ilk (your Big Lots, Odd Lots, Ocean State Job Lots, etc.) and those who do so shamefacedly, probably while wearing enormous sunglasses to help conceal their identity. (You might say that I’ve forgotten a third group, the group that does not frequent this type of shop at all, to which I would reply that anyone who claims not to ever go to this type of store is either lying or my husband. Or both.)
I am totally in the second group. Totally. I am eco-minded, design-minded, a wannabe Maker. I am ashamed of my secret love for this kind of store, the kind stuffed to the brim with imported-from-China low-quality CRAP that no one needs and few people would admit to wanting. Pumpkin-shaped votives? Yes, please. Faux-berry wreaths with half the berries missing? I’ll take two. The Polish version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, of dubious expiration date but decidedly bargain-level price? Hell to the yum.
Now, that’s all well and good, because I can more or less keep my dalliances with Christmas Tree Shops hidden when that’s the kind of merchandise I’m selecting. I mean, the Polish Cinnamon Toast Crunch is in the pantry. Who’s going to see it? The wreaths and pumpkin-shaped votives could be from ANYWHERE. The problem comes in when I do things like agree to take my son shopping for Halloween decorations at Christmas Tree Shops, and subsequently agree to purchasing an ill-advised scarecrow of unusual size. (What was I supposed to do? It was only SIX DOLLARS, people!) You see, now said scarecrow is perched outside our door (Actually, he’s staked. Do things that have been staked “perch”? Namely, scarecrows? Anyone?) for everyone in the world to see. And that would be fine, except that in our neighborhood, every other house has one of these scarecrows. Meaning, of course, that everyone KNOWS. They KNOW. My shameful secret is out on display for the world to see and judge, a scarlet letter “A” wearing burlap pants and a jaunty feathered hat.
On the up side, maybe this frees me up to make more unnecessary shopping trips.