Growing up in an observant Jewish home, I didn’t do Halloween. Instead, the holiday of Purim served as a festive stand in for costumes and revelry. But when I re-entered the New York single scene in my mid-30s and lived downtown, “What are you dressing up as?” (and it better be both sexy and smart ) was a challenge constantly posed.
My answer: “Ugh. Who cares,” or “No clue.”
I’m not a big advance planner, not to mention that my frenetic workweek doesn’t afford me with the bandwidth for costume combing. And, it also may have something to do with my stubborn resistance to trends or group-think.
But the upside is that lazy, last-minute creative concepting can be thrilling, fun, and preferable. When I was a divorcee living in Soho, my fellow single gal pals came over so we could all get ready together, high school style. I was the Girl with The Dragon Tattoo because it required no prep. I didn’t need to shop for what I already possessed – black clothing, black eyeliner, lots of necklaces, and a bitchy “don’t mess with me” countenance.
On the Halloween before Hurricane Sandy, when my now husband and I were dating, he dressed up as Frankenstein and I donned blue clothes and gray clouds (Frankenstorm). The Halloween after we got married, he was Frankenstein (costume recycle!) and I was Bride of Frankenstein. Last year, we both wore blonde wigs and gowns and were Renee Zelwegger.
This year, I had an ad industry party to attend on Thursday night, and as much as I didn’t want to dress up, I knew I had to show some kind of effort, so on my way I stopped at Ricky’s Costume Shop on 14th Street (mistake!) in search of dog-ears (anything dog themed is my classic default) and I’d speak in a low whisper all night (get it?).
Ricky’s was jammed, hot, and out of dog-ears. But they had plenty of Cougar kits – ears and tails – so I took it as a sign. I could be a Jewish Cougar (the Jewish part requires no accessorizing save some cchhs and hand gesturing). But the line snaked around the store, and I was already late. Here’s a tip: Costume shops pre-Halloween are packed with students and twenty-somethings who are happy to make five dollars purchasing your outfit for you. I found an exuberant volunteer at the front of the line.
My husband and I were invited to a party at 7pm on Saturday, but at 5pm, we still had no idea what we were going to be, so we head out to Ricky’s (upper west side – way better). But just before we got there, a light bulb went off (his). We would be Entangled Particles; two interconnected photons whose measurements and actions are synchronized. They communicate – even when separated by large distances (Einstein’s “Spooky Action at a Distance”). It was clever and topical and coupley. And I could also wear a slinky silver jumpsuit.
As we engtangled Nerds head out into the cool evening, we were warmed to see crowds of joyful children and their parents, their smiles apparent behind their princess or ladybug masks. Some of the brownstones in the West 90s were decked out in Halloween decorations, families out on their stoops talking and taking pictures.
A stark contrast from when we lived in Chelsea and descended into the throngs of loud, young fratty types, and I was heartened to feel that I’d finally graduated to the next stage – or almost. Or maybe I was ensconced happily in between. A newlywed with a new grownup home in a grownup neighborhood, where I could (could) leave candy out for the young children who live in my building (or eat theirs. Or my dog could). And I could also head back downtown, attend a party at a gallery with my fellow particle, and dance with him in a dark club with the unencumbered high of love and youth.
I very much look forward to not planning for next Halloween.