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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Sad Little Halloween

Halloween is without question my favorite holiday. It centers around two things I really enjoy; dressing up in the outlandish clothes and the opportunity to eat chocolate.  I’m not sure how the custom of going from house to house actually began. I remember having read about something like this in the Middle Ages but I have also read that it was a custom practiced in ancient Persia by Jewish children during the festival of Hanukah. The Hanukiah, more familiar to most as the Menorah, was lit and put in the windows of homes in Jewish neighborhoods as a sign indicating children were welcome and would receive a little bag filled with dates, figs and whatever amounted to sweet treats in those days, during the eight night festival. Whether this is the actual derivation of the custom or not doesn’t matter all that much to me, but does make for a very nice story and yearly event. 

The Great Dust Collector

I have had some ridiculously fun adventures on Halloween as a child, as a young adult, and as a parent.  On one of these fine dates I attended a party with some fellow employees of the Home Shopping Network.  Always one with a creative and fashion flair, I dressed myself as a piece of Capodimonte. If you are not familiar with this particular form of pottery, it comes from Italy as evidenced by the ROMA logo somewhere on the piece, is incredibly ornate, usually has roses of some sort somewhere on it, and people collect it for some reason that I cannot possibly fathom.  I called it “Crapodimonte, for people who like to dust. “ 

To complete my ensemble, I purchased a large white tee shirt, constructed roses out of crepe paper with stems out of florist wire and sewed them to the shirt. I bought a pair of white shiny dancers tights and rolls of thick white satin ribbon, which I sewed to the bottom of the shirt and bound them horizontally with bands of ribbons for the sculpted vase look I was after.  I also created a nice ROMA logo for the back of the shirt.  My head was covered with smaller roses I had created and applied to a headband after I sprayed my hair white and applied white make-up to my face.  I was a Home Shopping Club favorite come to life! 

Those interested in the merchandise sold in those early days have asked me; was there ever anything that fell below the Home Shopping Club bar?  This was the place that sold the melting phones, the hairless fur coats (see an earlier blog: Wing Nut Commander, for further details) and rumor was, somehow bought a railroad car of Girl Scout Cookies at a deep discount.  This preceded my arrival there but the story was that the head of the girl Scouts of America flew down to Tampa to meet with the President of the company, pleading for the return of the cookies – the organization’s only fund raising source.  The President insisted she buy them back, at a profit to the company.  Yes, he was a man who would rip of the Girl Scouts of America. He was also responsible for all of the merchandise in the early days. (I am so tempted to tell another tale but I’ll behave.)

So yes, the bar was set really low on several levels, but on one particular occasion, one of the buyers came into my office bearing a gift.  She wanted me to see an example of what was considered below their purchasing and taste standards. 

The rejected object was about 20 inches tall, a spray painted plastic golden flat bottomed pedestal vase filled with plastic velveteen red roses which had tiny LED lights in their centers.  The flowers created an arc supported by little plastic velveteen green leaves.  Is anything velveteen anymore? 

Nancy, the buyer, asked me to pick it up and twist the base to wind it up.  I did, put it back down on my desk and watch it spin and play “Somewhere My Love” from Dr. Zhivago while the lights blinked on and off in time to the music one might hear in an old jewelry box with a ballerina that spun in front of a tiny little mirror. 

Omar as Yuri
I am sure that Boris Pasternak, the brilliant Russian poet and novelist (who refused to leave Russia to receive his 1959 Pulitzer Prize for this wonderful novel, afraid that his Jewish In-Laws and Wife might be arrested in Stalinist Russia) would be turning his grave -- but at the same time, grateful that this particular interpretation was being put to rest by Nancy, the buyer who wasn’t. 

On another Halloween, my then 5 year old son had become transfixed by a new PBS show called Dragon Tales.  Dragon Tales told the story of a young Mexican brother and sister who through the use of a single luminescent magical dragon scale were able to transport back to a world with Cotton Candy colored little friendly dragons who spoke with a latino accent.  What my son like best about the show was a two-headed bright green and pink dragon named Zak and Wheezie who frequently disagreed with one another at the beginning of the show but always managed to work out their conflict by the end of the show.

Naturally, my son, never for one minute doubting the creative skills of his mother announced that he wanted to be a two-headed dragon, a green and pink one, for Halloween.  Well nothing is not possible when it comes to the creative force of Motherhood so I pulled out my ever-ready glue gun collection, needle and threads and headed out to the sadly now defunct Rag Shop and Kmart for all the supplies I needed to pull this off. 

Zak & Wheezie and the Dragontales Gang
To make Zak and Wheezie I bought two pair of sweat pants and sweat shirts – one set in forest green, the other in hot pink.  I cut each in half vertically and then hot glued the top and bottoms up in the center creating a new pair of sweat pants and sweat shirt – both half green and half pink.  The top was trickier because I needed to keep both necklines. The green became where my son’s head would be, the pink side was where I put the discarded pink leg, now remade into Wheezie’s neck and head with stuffing and supported with a thick piece of armature wire.  The ensemble also included big white wings made from a plastic sheeting embedded with gold sparkles which I hot glued on to the back of the top. Each side also had it’s own tail, made from the discarded sleeves of each color. It was truly adorable and completely fulfilled his Halloween fantasy.

It had become our custom to “do” the Halloween thing with our friends Anne and her daughter Rachel.  Rachel was going as Pikachu, the little yellow most popular Pokemon.   If you haven’t experienced Pokemon, either you don’t have children or know any. It is Nintendo’s second most successful brand and according to some quick website research on my part, cumulative sales of the brand’s video games have surpassed 200 million copies. The cartoon show has been running for years and the trading cards are still sold and fought for in tournaments in comic book stores around the country.

Ash and buddy Pikachu

If you know or would like to know anything about Pokemon, do click on the video link to a phabulous fake film trailer.

“What would happen if someone made a dark, gritty live-action Pokémon film? It'd probably look a lot like Pokémon Apokélypse, a fake trailer so spot-on, some fans thought it was real. The last line is what makes it.”

So, there we are, Cartoon characters and mom’s ready to hit the Halloween trail.  I had purchased these little plastic pumpkin with handles for the children to collect their candies.  Our typical route was to a lovely cluster of about 30 homes in a neighborhood filled with other Halloweeners.  Unfortunately, this was one of the hottest Halloween’s in history.  It must have been 80 degrees in the early evening as we left to ring bells.  At the second house, the children ran the doorbell, the adults came to the door and oohed and aahed appropriately.  The kids really looked adorable. My son spoke up, “ Excuse me, but could we get a glass of water instead of candy?”

And so ended the Halloween of the two headed dragon costume. The final tally: one candy and one glass of water. It was the sad little Halloween for the Mom’s but the children were just as happy to go home.

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