Chicken pox, a stripper who didn’t strip, and other Halloween memories

For the month of October Listing Toward Forty is Listing Toward Halloween, featuring a variety of Halloween posts including many by guest authors. This post is by Meredith Y.

Historically, I have not been the biggest fan of Halloween. The Mattadon finds this odd, as I am – as he says – “a theater person,” but my love/hate relationship with this particular holiday pre-dates that label.

When I was five years old and attending Mrs. McCullough’s morning kindergarten class, it was tradition for the students to bring their costumes to school and change into them to go on a Halloween Costume Parade. I vaguely recall already being a bit disappointed about the day, as my costume was a leotard and tights that I had trouble getting into on my own. (The tutu I could handle. No problem.)

When the time came to change, I had to have Mrs. McCullough help me finish pulling up the leotard (those things are tricky!) and as chance would have it, she discovered that I had a little red blister on my shoulder. She took me to the nurse, and after some poking and prodding, the nurse moved me to – strangely – a first grade classroom where the class stared at me as I sat in the back of the room, coloring.

It wasn’t until my mother came to pick me up that someone explained to me what chicken pox were.

Vintage Computer Halloween Costume
Because nothing says “give me candy” more than a late 1980s computer that can’t sit down.

Things didn’t necessarily improve for Halloween and me as the years went on. Trick or treating was just strange, as we lived out on the edge of town on a street with exactly six houses within walking distance. (Three of the houses were relatives. Not including ours.) In second or third grade, I wore my brother’s hand-me-down cardboard box computer costume once and had trouble sitting down for the class’s Halloween party. In sixth grade for the Halloween parade, in some sort of adolescent protest, I wore a t-shirt that read “THIS IS MY COSTUME.” And so on and so forth, until I got to college.

I would love to tell you all that college brought Halloween and me closer together. That I was less of a jerk to Halloween and more of a buddy. Less of a fighter, more of a lover. Alas, alack, Alanis Morissette, it was not to be. As a new and considerably awkward freshman member of Duquesne University’s theater organization, the Red Masquers, I guess I was supposed to be excited to learn of the yearly Halloween party. My sister – already a Masquer – tried to help me out by buying me a costume that she thought was really funny. My sister thinks I’m funny, and then tells other people that I’m funny, and that typically backfires as I’m never as funny to other people as I am to her. In her defense, the costume was funny, and if I were Tina Fey or Kristen Wiig, I might have been able to pull it off.

The evening of the party, dressed in my brand-new Hawaiian skirt, floral top, and RUBBER BUTT THAT I HAD STUFFED WITH T-SHIRTS TO MAINTAIN ITS SHAPE, I waltzed into the party with my friend, Josh, who attended CMU and was simply there with me as moral support. (His costume was brilliant: a tourist with a nametag that read “Turd Ferguson.”) I didn’t really know too many people there, having not auditioned for the fall show out of sheer terror, so Josh and I hid in a corner where I demonstrated how cool I was by pointing out a girl that (I heard) was a stripper.

Weeks go by. I am now being referred to within the Masquers as “the girl with the butt.” Months go by. I’m successfully integrated into the group by doing some shows, and then more so by being elected the president of the organization. Years go by. Josh and my now friend, Jen, get into a conversation at some get-together wherein he somehow turns the subject to her stripping-career. Only the trouble is, Jen’s not a stripper. Jen has never been a stripper. All these years, I never asked Jen about being a stripper, only to find out that she wasn’t one.

Halloween group
In later years, I took my hatred of Halloween to a more creative level.
In my Tinkerbell costume, I didn’t even have to talk to people. She’s mute.

Being married to The Mattadon, Halloween has taken a more entertaining, if not more awkward, place in my life. I’ve gotten over being the kid with the hand-me-down costumes and the girl with the butt. My concern these days is what I need to wear to even remotely compete with the perfection of my husband’s costumes. Last year, he won not one but TWO prizes for his zombie costume, which you’d think would be simple and boring until you add in his total commitment to character. (He ordered a beer and did karaoke as a zombie. “I Will Always Love You.” No lie.) As I sit here typing, he is constructing pieces of his costume for this year and I know that nothing I come up with will hold a candle to his brilliance.

The author and her husband
The author and her husband

There is, however, a small Halloween-hating part of me that knows that, if I were to hold a candle to it, it would go up in flames.

It is, after all, made of paper.

Meredith Y teaches theater by day, writes when she finds time, and plays ukulele in a “band” (TUBALELE). When she’s not brewing, talking about, or consuming craft beer, she reads practically everything. She is proud of her ability to dress unprofessionally without wearing jeans and infrequently loses her temper. When she grows up, she wants to do improv comedy, write for television, and become a Samurai warrior. Follow her on Twitter @meredithmouth and @quotefromdreams.

If you liked this you may also enjoy:

All Halloween posts from this series can be found here.

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