Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Bloody Sunday

I made it down 92 of the 97 steps in my apartment building this morning when I saw it: a severed limb wrapped in newspaper floating in a pool of blood. My left foot stopped, dangling mid-air above the 93rd step. My heart skipped a beat. I grabbed the filthy banister. It looked like the scene when Rick Moranis chops up Steve Martin (DDS) to feed Audrey II, a hungry man-eating plant, in Little Shop of Horrors. I took a deep breath to calm myself and noticed that the air smelled different. A tad sweet, somehow. I planted my foot gingerly on the 93rd step, and leaned forward. Upon closer inspection, it looked less like a Law & Order crime scene and more like someone spilled a Pomegranate Berry Blast smoothie from Juice Generation, didn't have time to clean it up, threw newspapers on it, and fled the joint.

It's Halloween—the most terrifying day of the year in Manhattan, a city with sidewalks that are not infrequently stained with blood. Real blood. I’ve seen it. Most good movie heists feature thieves and thugs in masks, so it stands to reason that a certain percentage of people in costume are up to no good. Maybe the troublesome part is that the majority of people wearing costumes in Manhattan seem to be adults. I saw roughly 11 costumed children this Halloween and at least 250 costumed adults. Those numbers would be completely reversed in the 'burbs. People here are scary in their everyday wear. So once they start donning
Scream masks, all bets are off.

My first October 31st in Manhattan was just after September 11th, a time when I was ridiculously suspicious of every single person I passed on the street. Trying to be a true New Yorker, I went to the Greenwich Village Halloween parade...and immediately left. I've never been back since. I saw a terrorist lurking in every Spongebob Squarepants and Toy Story costume. I just couldn't handle the stress.

I guess a big part of the day
is stress—Halloween masquerades as a low-preparation holiday, but it takes work to dream up a costume and imagine it into existence. At least for me. My mother completely spoiled me with her fanciful homemade costume-making ways. Growing up, she made me elaborate costumes like Rainbow Brite, Dottie the Dog from The Get-Along Gang, and Cheer Bear the Care Bear. The last costume, made from cardboard, pink fur, and paper maché, won me second place in my town's costume contest. I lost the contest to a family friend who out-crafted my mother by turning her son into a one-man haunted house. However, cute Care Bears are apparently more photogenic than scary haunted houses because I was the one who got my picture in the local paper.

As a direct result of my mother's ingenuity, I cannot wear just any Halloween costume. I especially cannot wear a store bought costume. And I most especially cannot wear a slutty costume. (A friend of mine kept a tally of all the slutty costumes we saw last Halloween. Shockingly, we discovered that it is possible to make any costume slutty—even Strawberry Shortcake, Minnie Mouse, and my beloved Rainbow Brite.) So every Halloween, I have to prepare a hugely creative, non-slutty, original, homemade costume. Or I won't dress up at all.

Passing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Clark Kent/Supermans, and assorted vampires on the street today, I started remembering how sinister this holiday is. But since I have never actually been harmed, accosted, or badgered on Halloween, I suppose I should be a little less guarded. After all, plenty of people in the city are waiting to steal my purse—any day of the year, with or without a mask. I have to remind myself that like the pool of smoothie blood in my building this morning, things are not what they may seem. I have to stop and smell the pomegranate before jumping to conclusions. In any event, I'm thankful to have a whole year to steel myself for the next onslaught of masked men and slutty Cookie Monsters.


  1. LOVE this one and so true! What's with the slutty Disney Princesses? Can't people just keep themselves covered up for a change?

  2. A-MEN, sister! Or brother. Or whoever is up so early on a Sunday morning.