Notes From A Traveler: Halloween

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore"

I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween. I’ve never hosted a Halloween party but I’ve helped out plenty who have. I always attend at least one every year (last year aside, pandemic and all) so here’s what I remember of them.

One year I dressed as a Pilgrim (I got the costume at Ricky’s) and entered a Halloween party. Before me stood two “witches.” Women wearing all-black drapery. I said, very loudly, “Burn them!” That was my entrance. I wore a self-created name tag that said “Kiss Me I’m From Massachusetts,” a nod to the Better Half, who actually is from Massachusetts. I found a font to replicate the olde variant of preceding the first “s” in a word with two, like “kiss” and “Massachusetts,” with a stylized “f”. Ben Franklin would have been proud. At this party they had a DJ so I asked him to play Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations,” so I could stay in character as an old Bostonian.

Once we were out on Fire Island late in the season, maybe October 25th, and we were at this restaurant that was closing down for the winter. They decided to hold a Halloween-themed last hurrah. I wasn’t in a costume (IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE TO KNOW I WAS GOING TO A COSTUME PARTY) but whatever. Since it was so late in the season the restaurant was very short-handed, so I went to the bar and got us drinks. Next to me was a very buff guy wearing nothing but a flesh-colored jock strap. “And who are you supposed to be?” “Adam, before the fall. You know, Eve and the apple, it is Fall and the restaurant’s closing…Who are you supposed to be?” “The boring coupled-off person that I am. That’s my Better Half, over there, the Black guy.” “Really. You know I’d like to get to know both of you a lot better. Maybe tonight if you…” “That’s very flattering but I think I’m going to have to turn you down. There’s enough going on in the house we’re staying in as it is.”

This reminds me to pass along this note to singletons: At some point I went as a state trooper (another cheap costume from Ricky’s). I was trying to be one of the guys from “CHiPs”, not the hot Erik Estrada character, the blond one who everyone forgets. This was at a party in the building so I wasn’t walking around outside like this. That’s a good thing for two reasons: 1) you might get a negative reaction from your fellow revelers, and 2) legitimate law enforcement officers take a dim view of impersonators. In fact, in the wake of 9/11, it is illegal and highly punishable to dress as a cop, for example. I only know this because I have friends who are members of SAG. They do a lot of work as extras, and if you’re used as filler you get paid a little more if you bring your own costume, and with the rise of “Law & Order” and the many spin-offs and imitators and thousands of cop show episodes a good extra would be wise to have a thrift store police uniform in their wardrobe. Or, that used to be the case. This is now impossible.

Anyway, there I was as a CHiP and I have never gotten so much attention from members of both sexes. Many, many people love a man in uniform, it seems. The Gang of Four is right. But there was also a strange bonus. It came with a hat that was too tight on my head, and cheap motorcycle cop sunglasses. Even though I wear glasses I insisted on wearing the ones with the costume, so I was essentially legally blind, and the hat, which cut off circulation around my brain. I did not abstain from the libations. I have never done peyote but now I have a good idea what the experience must be like.

One year Better Half and I decided to go as The Seventies. I went to a thrift store and bought cheap men’s clothes from the era, which I washed several times because gross. Better Half stayed local and procured a giant Afro wig and a wrap dress. Apparently one of the shop attendants was really into getting him just the right wrap dress and told him, “Oh honey, you’re at least a size 20. Here, try this on. This pattern is based on a Gucci design.” We both wore platform shoes, he sandals with a 4” heel, and we’re already tall guys, so we towered over everyone. THAT was a really fun party because upon our entrance the host started playing (or streaming, I guess) the greatest hits from that decade. BH is a beautiful dancer and I’m not so bad myself so we had them dancin’, they should be dancin’, for the rest of the night, aside from occasional forays to the bar.

This party went on until 6 in the morning. When we got home BH said, “Oh shoot, I forgot about Faithful Hound! Here, leash him up and I’ll take him out.” So off they went, the dog in his usual unclothed furry state, and my Life’s Companion tottering along on 4” heels wearing a wrap dress and forgetting to take off his afro wig. When he came back he informed me, “Mattie, a guy offered to pay me $50 if [redacted]” “People are so weird at this time of day.” “I said yes, of course, so I’ll give you half.” “You’d better be joking. I did not marry a streetwalker, delightful as I’m sure many of them are, who [redacted] in front of my own dog. Are you hungry and can stay conscious for a few minutes? I’m going to make some omelets. There’s that cheese that we need to use up…”



  1. Upon seeing this posted I realized to my horror that if you didn’t know the background of the image I picked and couldn’t connect why I chose it you might find it slightly offensive. I removed it. Let the blank space, be, oh, I don’t know, let it put you in mind of “The Fog.”

  2. I love witty and topical  Halloween costumes.  The zebras from the DOT are delightful. I am always a witch, I go with my strength.

  3. Let me make up for my redacted illustration with this haunting image. Another gem from the 1910 edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook:

    Mayonnaise of Mackerel

    Clean two medium-sized mackerel, put in baking-dish with one-third cup each water, cider vinegar, and tarragon vinegar, twelve cloves, one teaspoon each peppercorns and salt, and a bit of bay leaf. Cover with buttered paper and cook in a moderate oven.

    [So far, so good…]

    Arrange on serving dish, remove skin, cool, and mask with Mayonnaise thickened with gelatine. Let stand until thoroughly chilled, and garnish with sliced cucumbers, lemon baskets filled with Mayonnaise sprinkled with finely chopped parsley, and sprigs of parsley.

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