Ask me how much I love Hallowe’en. No, seriously, ask me. How much do I love Hallowe’en, you ask? How much?
Not that my life isn’t already pretty spooky and filled with weirdness, but Hallowe’en! Hallowe’en opens all kinds of doors to the spooky/weird realm. And it is fun on so many levels.
I love everything about it. I love the grown-up parties with green and/or smoking cocktails. I love the kiddies running around thinking they look scary in their costumes while their snow pants peek out from underneath. And I mean, OBVIOUSLY I love the candy.
Sadly, this year I am working the ol’ emerg dispatch on Hallowe’en night. (Ask me how much I love working emerg dispatch on mischief-based holidays. Go on, ask me.) So what this means is I won’t be dressing up. (It’s just not as much fun dressing up to sit in an office all alone in the middle of the night. It’s just kind of sad.)
So I’m feeling a little sentimental about Hallowe’ens past. Allow me to share.
Growing up, we never bothered with costumes. We just blackened our faces, donned black toques and turtlenecks, slipped a couple dozen eggs in our coats and engaged in egg wars in the woods behind the park – boys against girls. It was epic, man. We even lay in wait on the roof of the museum waiting for the guys to pass below so we could snipe them. But my favourite moment was when one of my friends fell and ended up with 24 smashed eggs in her shirt. (What a traitor I am. But it was really funny!)
There was the Hallowe’en where my friend Zena and I had planned not to dress up, but to join the festivities at our favourite boozehole, Backstage. If you’ve never been there, it’s a wonderfully atmospheric place – lots of different levels, shadowy nooks, old-world frescoes, twinkly lights, wrought-iron, and even a big-ass life-size papier mache tree growing up through the middle of the floor. And most important, I was chummy with the bar staff, who knew exactly how I liked my drinks (free).
So I show up at Zena’s place, dressed in a rather fetching dress-which-was-not-a-costume (floor length, empire-waist, spaghetti-straps, black with flowers sprinkled around the hem…sorry for the tangent. I have a weakness for pretty dresses.) What do I find? A roomful of freaking people in costumes.
Luckily, I am a resourceful gal. Taking inspiration from the fountain I had passed in the foyer on the way up, I threw together an 11th-hour (literally…haha!) costume. I powdered my skin to make it even paler than it is normally. I used blue eyeshadow and created pretty convincing bruises all over (I know what you’re thinking…zombie – BORING! But you’re wrong. I’m far more clever than that.) My lips got a good coating of blue as well. I soaked my long hair and gelled it well to keep it stringy. The final touch on the way out of the building was to grab a few lily pads out of the fountain to tangle in my hair.
I was not a zombie. I was Ophelia from Hamlet. AFTER she’d drowned. (Zombie. Hmmmph! Fooled you.)
When we got to the bar, the waitresses were passing around trays of masks, which I thought a very classy touch. Of course, the waitresses were dressed in dominatrix gear, but whatever.
This was the Hallowe’en that I gained the attentions of this guy we’ll call…Rave. Long hair, dressed in one of those period costumes we gals are such suckers for, you know, poufy blouse, lots of velvet and floppy cuffs. I’d had a lot to drink.
So we’re swapping tales and he informs me that he is a vampire. I’m all, yeah, great costume. He’s all, no, I’m serious. I’m all, gigglegiggle, aren’t you funny.
I’m about to let the dude kiss me when my friend Tim swooped down out of nowhere, gathered me in his arms and literally swept me through a curtain that led to the back rooms of the bar, where I was sequestered and forced to smoke pot with the staff for the rest of the night. Turned out Tim was already familiar with this Rave guy.
But did this slow me down? Oh, no. I ended up agreeing to have drinks with Rave the next night and well, it turns out the fop costume wasn’t reeeeally so much a costume. Sigh. I had gone to his place to meet him, and well…the guy had a coffin in his kitchen. And he tried to bite my neck. For real. Turned out he was involved in some sort of blood cult. Turned out he was less turned on by my drunken rendition of Ophelia’s monologue and more excited by my undead appearance. (Only me, you guys. This could only happen to me.)
Another one of those ‘only me’ stories: When I was in theatre school, I went to a party dressed as a vampy vampire (okay, just so you know, I wasn’t just being trampy…I actually used the liquid latex in my makeup kit to create very realistic fangs, which I attached with false eyelash glue. They looked quite wicked, if I do say so myself.) The party itself was okay, but the gory part comes later, when I found myself using the back door off the loading dock as a shortcut to my house, which was right across the street. I’d forgotten that they lock the gates leading out of the loading dock at midnight. The gates of a 10-foot high chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. And the doors to the building lock automatically behind you.
Of course, being Fearless, I quickly summed up the situation, decided I am most definitely not the type to scream for help and proceeded to rescue myself. Took off the heels, chucked ’em over the fence with my purse. Hiked up the dress and started climbing.
Woke up the next day covered in blood, wearing shredded stockings. Hands weren’t in great shape, either. Made me feel tough, though.
So those were sort of authentic kinds of Hallowe’en, but I’ve had lots of other spook-nights that weren’t so creepy.
Like the first time I went to see Rocky Horror. If you’ve never gone, you absolutely must. Try to go when you are very young and have no idea what to expect, and are not accustomed to being encouraged to create mayhem and disorder in public places. And I recommend sneaking in booze, because truth be told, the film gets a little dull at the end (I think the writers may have been working under the influence, too, and their minds were wandering by that point). Make sure you dress up or you’ll feel really square.
And Mardi Gras. Halifax used to shut down the downtown area every Hallowe’en night, but as far as I know they don’t do it anymore, because the chaos became too much. (I like to think I was in part responsible for this decision, but perhaps I boast.) It was so nuts that if you didn’t somehow tether yourself to those you were with, you would be sucked into the crowd and never heard from again. Which usually ended up being the more interesting experience, of course.
I remember stumbling back up Spring Garden Road after one particularly sucessful Mardi Gras, arm in arm with my ex-boyfriend (still broken up, but still partying together…yeah, yeah, I know. We’re still friends, actually. I’m weird.) He says, “Hey, look! It’s Jimmy M.!” I glance over at the doorway ahead of us. Jimi Hendrix is standing there. I say, “Yeeeeeaah…Jimi…coooool…” “No, no, it’s Jimmy.” “Yeeeeahhh, cool…Jimi…” It went on like this for some time, until Rob dragged me over to talk to our friend Jimmy. Who, despite being a white guy, made a very convincing Jimi Hendrix. (I may or may not have been under the influence of one or more somethings.)
Or the time I won the Best Costume award at the restaurant I worked at during the Actress Years. (Wednesday Addams, complete with headless doll and negative attitude. I even stayed in character when taking orders. It was awesome – the ruder I was, the bigger my tips. A server’s dream come true.) Actually, the Marilyn Monroe costume the following year got me some hefty grats as well. But I think it was just the boobs.
One of my favourite, most inspired costumes was the year I threw an All Hallow’s Eve party and in keeping with the ‘party’ theme, and since I had short platinum blonde hair at the time, I went as Edie Sedgewick, complete with floor-length electric blue fuzzy duster coat, purse full of heroin paraphernalia and track marks.
Of course, I don’t know how many times I’ve ended up alone in graveyards because I’ve wanted to sneak in and freak myself out, but I can never convince anyone to go with me.
Sadly, I don’t have pics of most of these dazzling events because I generally end up being too busy creating memories to actually record them. This bums me out, but what are you gonna do?
Of course, what it all really comes down to is this:
Why wait for that special season to dress up weird, gorge on sweets and play pranks on people? Let’s make that extra effort and make it Hallowe’en every day!
You know you want to.