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October 31st, 2003

A Young Woman Reconsiders Her Wayward Halloween Past

 
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So I’m dumping the box of Halloween costumes out on the floor last night, and� there wasn’t much there. I don’t mean there wasn’t a great deal to choose from–we’re talking about fourteen year’s worth of costumes here�but� there wasn’t much there. For a person who recently passed four Halloweens in northern Indiana�a region that isn’t particularly known for its balmy late Octobers–there wasn’t a lot of coverage going on in these costumes. The total square feet of material in the lot of them could have covered maybe a six-pack of Tic Tacs.

he dance hall girl, the adorable ladybug, Mary Beth the French maid whose ancestry is thoroughly German: They were all here. I regarded one gauzy skirt with particular interest, holding the material at arm’s length between my thumb and forefinger �which one was this a piece of? Oh, wait, there’s the matching gold bra. I believe the proper term is “exotic dancer.”

You can get away with this, when you’re nineteen and very, very chemically enhanced. When you’re pushing thirty? Not so much. I don’t care what you’ve been drinking.

I think we should officially file this feminine practice of celebrating the vigil of a major Catholic feast day by tarting it up with the Bureau of Double Standards, Irony Department. You don’t see guys trolling the bars any less covered than normal; if anything, they’re blessedly more clothed, what with the pirate hats and the pimp boas and the occasional cape. But women? Women put on a bodysuit and a headband with tiny cat ears and wonder why we aren’t President yet.

It’s the same reason, I suppose, I haul the sarong and the flower headwreaths out of the back of the closet when Jimmy Buffett comes to town. We are offered an excuse to slut around without really slutting around, and God bless Spencer’s Gifts, the Official Enabler of Halloween Whoring Nights, for stocking the fishnet hose. Boring womanly existence, begone!

As a grown-up who now has a health insurance policy, a coffee table, a whole bunch of debt and everything, and whose primary day-to-day wardrobe consists of soccer shorts and unkempt hair I now understand better why we might want to tear up the inhibitions every October 31st and pull down the neckline. And yet�come on, ladies. We’re better than this, okay? Stand up straight, step away from the Wonder Woman hotpants, and forget about showing the vampire on the corner barstool the cleavage even if he’s setting up the Bloody Marys for free.

To be honest, it’s not simply a matter of self respect but physical survival. Last night, while shoving the Box O’ Sex Kitten back into storage (economic times are tough; it may yet come to strip-o-grams, so perhaps it’s best to save the finger cymbals for a rainy day), I came across a pair of stilettos I bought for the express purpose of accessorizing the French maid get-up. I wore the outfit to a dance during my senior year in college, and after four hours of shuffling about to innumerable rounds of “Thriller” I physically couldn’t walk to the bus stop afterward without stopping to rest and cry every four feet. Haven’t worn the damn things since.

 
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The Author : Mary Beth Ellis
Mary Beth Ellis writes from Orlando, Florida.
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