Halloween and Me

People think I’m no fun because I don’t dress up for Halloween. That’s not true. I’m no fun because I’m no fun. Not dressing up is merely a byproduct.

I wasn’t always this way. Growing up, I loved Halloween. I’d spray my hair orange and put on my “punk” costume as I joined my friends “Cow Girl”, “Vampire” and that fat kid who would always go as a big screen TV or a Rubix Cube or anything she could make out of a discarded refrigerator box. I loved trick or treating. The candy was part of it, but mostly, I loved the drama. My mother would terrify me with tales of razor blades in Peanut Chews and arsenic in Double Bubble, and I’d fantasize that I’d be the kid who’d get it. I’d bite into a Now and Later and immediately collapse into the gutter – strangers dressed as princesses and pop stars racing to my aide, as my Cyndi Lauper hair melted into the rain water, creating a Technicolor stream of attention. I’d come to, to find myself surrounded by news cameras and Geraldo Rivera and Ernie Anastos and Phil Donohue. “I unwrapped the strawberry one and it looked totally normal, so I took a bite, and that’s the last thing I remember,” I’d declare with the eyes of America upon me.

And then I had the misfortune of becoming a grown up.

Grownups have jobs – and my job was “clown”. Not like that guy who spouts street jokes in the break room at Costco and his co-workers are like, “He’s a real clown, that Keith!” I was an actual greasepaint-wearing, big shoe clomping, club-juggling, balloon twisting clown. I toured with the circus, did countless street fairs, corporate events, birthday parties – for years, dressing up WAS my job. And it was great – but it was a JOB. So, when I’d have a day off, literally the LAST thing I’d want to do is dress up, as ANYTHING.

I liked the gigs because I made sense at the gigs – “Oh, it’s a party and THIS IS THE CLOWN.” But getting to the gig was a nightmare. Nothing fun about being stuck in rush hour traffic – cursing and screaming at the top of your lungs ’cause you’re forty minutes late to a thirty minute party, only to see a caravan of kids smiling and waving at you. And travelling by NYC subway was even worse – ’cause on the train there’s no barrier. It’s just you and your clown nose and hell.

But then, there’d be Halloween. I’d always have to work on Halloween – and I loved it. Because EVERYONE was in a costume. I was no longer some lone freak who’d clearly disappointed her parents. I wasn’t a clown – I was a lawyer or a stock broker or a head of human resources – just a normal person wearing a fabulous costume on a fabulous day. I could come out of the shadows and just be myself! And as I sat on the F train thinking this, I locked eyes with a handsome young man in a Nazi uniform – and realized he was thinking the same thing.

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