On the ever-growing list of Things that Make DC and Walla Walla Different, let’s add Halloween.

Halloween in DC is hit or miss. You may get three very young trick-or-treaters in half homemade costumes with helicopter parents standing behind them, looking nervous to be out after dark with their precious ones. One gets the impression that they badgered their otherwise overprotective caretakers to let them out of the house for the promise of bite-sized waxy chocolate, and that only the most vocal, pushy kids and the most pushover adults are the ones making the trek. Or one may get no knocks at the door, even if the light is on outside, and there’s a fake ghost on the foot-wide lawn, looking especially scary next to two broken 40 ounces and one used condom—because of course context is everything. The last possibility in DC is that one will get gaggles of middle school and high school kids, all dressed in white t-shirts and torn jeans in a far reach for “zombie.” And then one has to drop the candy into their pillowcases or they’ll grab three and four bars each, causing one to run out of candy all too quickly and leaving one to cower in the corner of the kitchen, far from the front door, pretending not to be home. And that gets old fast.

In Walla Walla, trick or treating is limited to the arranged rendezvous with candy. Kids are orchestrated by well meaning adults in some central location, like a dorm on the Whitman campus, which is then decorated to communicate that for this night only, ghosts are on the prowl in the dorm that would surely, on any other day, fire up the college students’ parents to demand at least partial refunds of their room and board payments. There are also trick and treat events in some of the nursing homes in town, on a two-block strip of Main Street, etc. But house-to-house soliciting, as far as I can tell, is limited to Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they’re not seeking confections so much as offering eternal life.

To sum it up, Susanne and I got stuck with a boatload of candy last year, and she brought it to her office in hopes of limiting the damage to our pancreases and transferring the potential dental issues to the students and staff.

We bought no candy this year, expecting that once again, only two kids will show up at our house. At that rate, I can rummage through the kitchen and come up with some Orbit gum and an old Peppermint Patty from that Thai restaurant on 9th Avenue, no worries.

In the list of differences, I went to one and only one costume party in DC, but out here in Walla Walla, they seem to be a dime a dozen. However little the children dress up to gather candy from strangers, the adults go nuts pretending to be someone else. I can’t blame them—I’d like to be someone else out here, too, other than an unemployed, has-few-prospects, wanna be novelist who is tongue in cheek running for City Council, but that’s beside the point. The point is, they like a good costume party in this town.

We went to one last Saturday and have another to attend next Saturday. Last year I wore my Eeyore costume that I had purchased in 2002 for the one and only costume party I attended in DC. It is head to toe blue fleece, complete with floppy ears, depressed looking mane, and tail held on by a few strands of string. It also includes a little press pad in the top left paw (paw!) that says alternately, “Hello, I’m Eeyore,” and “Thanks for noticing me.” The thing gets so hot that I can’t wear anything underneath it other than some boxer shorts and a tank top. We’re talking stifling—the kind of heat surrounding one’s body that gives one the urge to run outside into a blizzard or make snow angels for 3o minutes, whilst banging the paws against the ground, to the beat of “Hello, I’m Eeyore,” and “Thanks for noticing me.”

I’d agreed to lend out this costume for the party this next Saturday, not realizing that I myself was obligated to attend. I’m a little bemused that anyone else would want to dress up as Eeyore, even knowing that the costume has been worn some number of times by a sweaty man in just his boxers, but whatever. What is life without risks, anyway?

This led Susanne and me to go to the K-Mart—which we affectionately call the “Sad Mart,” because it’s so dilapidated, with few customers actually shopping (as opposed to standing in front of a sales fixture, staring mindlessly, as if the nursing home dropped them off for a few hours so they could go “outside”). We looked through the costumes that they had for sale, knowing we couldn’t repeat the Magnum, P.I. and Perry Mason outfits of last weekend. It would be like wearing the same dress to two inauguration balls!

The costume perusing quickly devolved into shock as we saw what they had stocked on the shelves. An inflatable ballerina costume, because everyone loves obese ballerinas. An inflatable ninja costume, because why not mix in a little Orientalism while we’re being fat-phobic? And then, I gasped, and Susanne rushed over to look at what I was seeing.Woman/Man costume

The Woman/Man costume. Split right down the middle. Someone had watched too much Victor/Victoria. But seriously? Who would wear that, and why?

Please notice that the Woman/Man wig is sold separately. Since it can be worn for so many other occasions. If you don’t buy the wig, what else do you wear with this albatross?

“That says a lot about something,” I said.

We moved on, giggling at the human-sized whoopi cushion costume. Alas, it did not actually make a farting noise, probably because there is no left paw for a small speaker. I suppose the idea of whoopi cushions with paws is too frightening to deal with anyway.

So, I don’t have a costume for Saturday. Maybe I’ll go as a zombie councilman. Or affix several tumbleweeds to my clothing and give people small scrapes all evening. Or I could just wear a tank top and boxers and tell people I’m wearing an invisible Eeyore costume. I’m sure any of those ideas will work.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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3 Comments on “Boo.”

  1. October 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    I do not even know what to say about this costume. I am pretty sure there are ways to be creative and have fun with Halloween costumes without offending large groups of people in the process.

    your blog is fantastic.


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