Bibbity Bobbity BOO!
With Halloween just around the corner, I visited a pop-up Halloween Spirit shop, looking for an outfit for my dog. After all, the pet parade is Sea Witch Weekend. I also needed some inspiration for costumes for me and my wife, as we never miss the opportunity to bar hop in Rehoboth on Halloween weekend.
As I trolled aisles filled with monsters, superheroes, and a disturbing array of bloody body parts, I flashed back to ghosts of Halloweens past—and lessons learned from them.
First, select a costume that does not make your spouse hate you. Back in the 80s at a DC party, I knew we’d dazzle the crowd with our two-person camel costume borrowed from a local theatre production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. We won first prize, but the rear end of the camel didn’t talk to me for a week. And I had to pay for her chiropractor.
Next, be mindful of your ability to dazzle while still being able to eat and drink. Reference the previous example. Only the person in front of the camel’s hump could sip and chew without disrobing.
One year we attended a penthouse party with a fairy tale theme. Let’s face it, almost all of the fabulous fun events and costume parties we attended back in the day qualified as fairy tale evenings. But this party requested that the fabulous fairies and their dykey cohorts come as costumed Cinderellas, Rapunzels, or evil queens. There were always a couple of garden variety evil queens in street clothes making snarky comments, but that made the parties even more fun.
The costume winner that year was Snow White, in an authentically designed and hand sewn Disney outfit with perfectly coiffed black wig, enhanced by this man’s perfect black beard. Sadly, though, he had his waist cinched within an inch of his life and could not eat a morsel. A Grimm choice. Ba-Da-Bing.
I think Bonnie and I stretched the theme a little by going as Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Okay, that might have been the Movie and TV Musical Theme year. The details are lost to father time. But Bonnie donned her little green Mary Martin lezzie outfit (MM was one, you know) and I got dolled up like that famously flaming Captain Hook (And yes, Cyril Ritchard who played Hook was gay, too).
This time Bonnie got to take full advantage of the catered buffet and flowing beverages while I tried to balance a plate on my elbow and a martini in my hand without gouging people with my big plastic hook.
So, having learned my lesson, we went to a subsequent party—TV theme—as a grape-stomping Lucy and Ethel from I Love Lucy. We wore wigs and peasant dresses, painted our feet with purple food coloring, and were done. We ate and drank unfettered.
The next lesson is to ignore judgmental young store clerks. Just a few years ago, friends here at the beach hosted a 1960s hippie party, which sent dozens of folks to one of Rehoboth’s two hippie-style clothing stores for tie-dye and wearable blankets. I guess we got there late in the week because I overheard a clerk actually say, “Here come some more old people for hippie stuff.”
And they weren’t even evil queens.
I can’t remember the year, but it was when that kids’ show Teletubbies featured a purple creature called Tinky Winky wearing a triangle on his head and carrying a red purse. The American Family Association hyperventilated about the character looking “gay.”
Well they may have castigated him in Utah, but here in Rehoboth we celebrated him. I showed up on Halloween at the Blue Moon dressed like Tinky Winky (hands free for cocktails!) and so did several other revelers. All the Tinkies were queer, here, and the American Family Association never got over it.
Standing in that Halloween Spirit store I realized that growing older is mandatory but growing up is not. The rumor is that if you haven’t matured by age 50 you don’t have to. I’ll drink to that, especially if my costume allows me the freedom to do so.
I’m just as excited about Halloween this year as when I was eight and dressed like Roy Rogers, or 34 and shared that two-person camel. Only now I’m older and wiser. I will make sure my costume is fun but minimalist, with no impediments to feeding myself.
Oh, and Windsor will go to the parade dressed simply as well. He’ll want to be free to forage for boardwalk French fries.
Actually, this year I may just wear a plain half mask and my t-shirt with the words “People don’t stop playing because they get old; people get old because they stop playing.”
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach, For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries, and her newest book Time Fries—Aging Gracelessly in Rehoboth Beach.