When I was a kid, Halloween was a kids’ holiday.
That was a long time ago, in a universe far away — called the South Bronx.
We celebrated Halloween on Oct. 31, always. Never on a more convenient weekend night. Always Halloween itself, like Henri David does with his annual party.
Those were the post-war (II) years. Money was tight. No one yet had monetized huge costume stores. No one could afford such silliness.
Today, Halloween is a $9 billion industry. To put that in perspective, the U.S. Department of Commerce budget is $13 billion.
Anyway, back then costumes were needed for trick-or-treating and the quality of the do-it-yourself costume was dependent on how creative your mother was.
The most popular male costumes on my block were cowboys and hobos. You could throw a serape (usually a curtain) over your shoulders, find a sombrero and pretend to be Mexican without being accused of cultural appropriation and racism.
Cowboy was blue jeans, a western style hat and a toy cap gun. Hobo required old clothes and makeup that gave the youngster a dirty face. (Hobo is not allowed today: demeaning to the homeless.)
For girls, it was a princess, which required a dressy dress and a tiara made of tinfoil, or ballerina — the base being a swim suit. It would not be called sexist.
Gender nonspecific costumes might be ghosts — an old sheet thrown over the kid, or a monster, which might be a face mask and Dad’s work clothes. A cardboard box and construction paper could produce a soup can to walk around in.
As adults began to infiltrate Halloween, some bad things happened to good people — the holiday was taken as an opportunity to exercise adventures in blackface. You probably know who I am talking about, so I need not dwell on that.
We may need woke rules for Halloween. Some people — Prince Harry, was that you? — might wear a Nazi uniform to a party, separating the actual genocide from them having cool uniforms. I am less concerned about faux Nazis at parties than real ones marching in Charlottesville. But that uniform is a form of expression, and while repugnant, is protected by the First Amendment, which can be a bitch at times.
To me, 12 is cutoff age for trick-or-treating. If you are older than that, begging for candy with the threat of a “trick” is extortion.
Costumes have became what you might call more “adult.”
Princesses were replaced by sluts, porn stars and hos.
Cowboys were replaced by pimps, dungeon slaves and chain saw murderers.
A “teacher” costume would be a zero, but put “sexy” in front of “teacher,” and you are off to the races. Just open the blouse to the navel, add a micro mini and hooker heels.
Put “sexy” in front of “plumber” and you get more than a butt crack. If I describe more, you will want to put out your eyes.
Not being especially handy and not having much free time, as an adult I settled for being a judge (with a black gown borrowed from a judge), a referee (in a striped shirt from Modell’s) and a priest (Roman collar shirt bought from a church supply shop). I used the priest costume for many years because it enabled me to hear confessions — and it was slimming.
One year I decided to wear something horrifying.
I showed up nude.
It wasn’t a hit, so it was back to the priest, and all was well in heaven.