By Narcissa Lyons
The Dark is upon us. Wish that was not double entendre this year. Been a bit frenetically busy, but I will not let this time of year go by without any mention of this spookiness, eeriness and lovely horrorfest time. It is All Hallows Month, and very quickly is approaching All Hallows Eve. Have you done something good or terrible enough to make a mention on the list? Have you bought or contrived or painstakingly put together a suit that will hide who you are or might have been? Oh the pressure! And with each costume you use up year by year there are that many fewer from which to choose. I have seen a few costumes of late, and I don’t count the idiots that have been out there as clowns and started a phantasmic sort of riot as a reaction. Funny how one thing can reach another and then lead to another. I did see puffy cheeks and evil coal black eyes the other night and if that is what the selection process brings in to head this country then it is Halloween in Perpetuity and we are Gotham.
To get back to it. The night, the anticipation of it, the pressure of knowing how you will live up to it, because most times you can and do. Most times you catch a glimpse of yourself in the best damn outfit ever and you wink at the mirror and then while you don’t have that pitch perfect outfit sent to you, you put together something that might be even better. I have seen it happen. By the by, I think Halloween is possibly better as an adult (especially if one dresses up). I have opened the door grandly to children of spectrum ages and have seen them gaze, OK gape (aghast? I can only hope) at me in astonishment and awe. We all like candy, but we more as the years go by like hiding just for once on one given day. We are forgiven on that day for being something else, and we allow ourselves moments of disruption. We play weird, haunting music, hang lights that are not symmetrical, carve into orange flesh faces that might be happy or haunting or gaping, put them on the stoop and then ask who dare approach. Who dare knock on this door after looking hither at freakish cool pumpkins, crisp and deep voices emanating from speakers and not knowing what is on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR? Granted the window for really instilling terror in your small visitors is limited to maybe a 5 year span. I wish I were better at this. I wish I were my neighbor down the street who defines orange light and does it one month before it is necessary, and yet who has the smile and height of Santa Clause if you ring that bell.
This is how we went around the neighborhood when young. We lived on a highway, so houses were not right the damn next door. My mother, thanks to this particular quality of hers, made our outfits (actually she also sewed my wedding dress come to think of it). It was a fantastic year, or at least fantastic in that I remember Halloween for that year. She had said she had a lovely idea that would make us beautiful, related, and royal. “How About” she said, “You each decide on what kingdom you would like to rule?? You can be King or Queen of ANYTHING”. She was so proud of herself and excited at the prospect, and it would have been a welcome idea had it not been a little overwhelming for our young minds. We surmised (being between 4 and 11), looked at each other, muddled in it, and the best we could come up with was Panni being the Queen of Snow, me the Queen of Flowers, Reka the Queen of Hearts, and Antal the King of Fish, and thence we traipsed. Paulette did not want to be a queen of anything and insisted on being the King of Birds. My mother, during what was an admittedly short period of motherly time, sewed those costumes and several years’ worth. It’s actually a little spectacular given her other full time role at work. We were all each in different draping costumes with snap-on pieces that were part of our kingdom (i.e. birds, flowers, snowflakes, etc.)
Let us not forget about the parents who accompany their children on this macabre evening, some dressed some not, but all to make sure everyone—children and greeters alike—is behaving. And maybe they have their own warm treat in hand to help the night along, to be part of the fun since we in theory are no longer allowed to ask for candy. The toddy they are entitled to! And some kind greeters at least on this street, have treats for the children and treats for the adults in just that liquid form.
The gruesome, or possibility of the gruesome is what we smile about, why we think it is OK to hide behind corners or trees on 10/31. It is Halloween and everything is accepted. I can stand, inside some grinning maniacal outfit and feign murder at you as you walk home from the train station and you nod a hello. The you that accepts this, instead of running for your life from the maniac, is thinking either “gotta go home and make sure I have enough candy” or “get into my own costume” and hopefully not “turn the lights off” (condemn yourself to all neighborhood kids and a possible egging).
You (if you do) step into your costume and your mood is immediately different. Different and magic. We will open this door to the too many children that walk down some streets that eagerly want candy and to impress with their costumes and it is them we are really serenading. They hear the beautiful but quietly threatening music we are playing and see the tragic faces carved into these sacrificial pumpkins, and this is etched in their memories. They live it then and then live it again when they try to return the favor to the next generation. Part of me dances while I wait for new candy askers and part of me just dances. Halloween.
Orange and Flesh and Deep Dark Night.
A Witch’s spell, a Devil’s fright.
Beware, be Watching until it’s Light.
Be ready to run until it’s Light.