Saturday, October 15, 2011

When Did the Great Pumpkin Get Replaced by the Halloween Hooker???

A few years ago, I was reading Beverly Cleary’s story of Henry Huggins (the lovable little boy who lives next door to Ramona Quimby) to my oldest daughter.  At one point during the story, Henry goes searching for stuff around his house in order to put together his costume on Halloween day.

“See…this is what we used to do,” I tried explaining to her.  “We didn’t go to the store.  We looked around to see what we already had to make our costumes.”

She gazed at me in wonder as she tried to figure out how I could have possibly created such fiction.

You remember those days, don’t you?  You know…way back when the girls were all ballerinas because they happened to have a left over recital costume that still fit.  And when the boys dressed like bums because their dad told them they could cut up one of his old shirts to wear with their already tattered jeans.

I was always the princess.  And there’s a very good reason for this:  If I didn’t decide early and speak up, my dad would put me in some elaborate costume that he had configured out of a cardboard box.

This was a lesson that my older sister somehow never learned.

I don’t know what his fixation on those boxes was all about.  I don’t know if he was just that frugal and didn’t want to let anything go to waste (especially something as valuable as cardboard) or if his little engineering mind was bored and he enjoyed daydreaming about how he could improve upon the cardboard contraption he’d taped my sister into the year before…

…but for years, he had her in something that required a box.  A big box.

One year she was a robot, complete with vacuum tubes for arms and a shoot cut out of the stomach for people to drop candy into the garbage bag that had been duct taped inside.

The next year, she was a Ritz cracker box, complete with top hat, cane, and high heeled tap shoes.  I’ll never forget skipping along the street trick-or-treating in my oh-so-comfortable ballerina costume, while she eyed every garden hose like it was a land mine.  Incidentally:  You should never put someone in high-heeled shoes with no traction who can’t even see her feet.

(As a side note:  My dad REALLY out-did himself when he made a covered wagon out of…you guessed it…cardboard boxes and put it on her bike for the 4th of July Parade.  She could barely pedal and had no ability to see anything except what was right in front of her.  But my dad sent her wobbling on her merry way.)

ANYWAY, today I went Halloween shopping with my kids, which I’m going to tell you…I’m starting to get really bitter about.  Costumes have gone up to a ridiculous $35-$40 each and we all know that they’re so cheaply made, all it takes is one misplaced piece of Velcro and the cheap fabric it’s made out of snags and runs.  I do my best to side-step the cost so that I don’t have to eventually explain to my financial planner (my sister…the girl in the cardboard box) that the reason the kids have no college fund is because they all wanted to be Harry Potter characters one year for Halloween. 

We start at Good Will, go to consignment stores, and as a last ditch effort…we’ll make our way to the dreaded Halloween store.

Every year I go to a Halloween store, I am more and more appalled.  This year, I actually walked in and did a double-take, thinking that I had accidentally brought my kids to the new XXX Adult Store that I didn’t know they’d opened in town.  The entire front of the store was all women’s costumes that barely hit below the Promised Land and stilettos I thought only “paid girls” wore.  Nurses, wizards, and police women lined the walls complete with neck-high cleavage and thigh-high boots.  I don’t know about you…but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female firefighter in fish-net stockings.  Something tells me that might be kind of flammable.

I would have LOVED to have been in on the Marketing meeting when someone raised their hand and said, “Excuse me?  But don’t we have a way to make that Crayon costume a little more…slutty?”

I grabbed the kids and immediately set out to find their section (which was, of course, at the very back of the store, so you had to walk through all of this soft porn to get to it) and I am here to tell you that what was back there, wasn’t much better.

Since my youngest had already picked out a Minnie Mouse costume at Good Will (thank God) and my son, disgruntled at the poor selection available for boys, had decided to recycle his Mario costume from last year…it was time to find a costume for my tall 10-year-old daughter.

And here’s what we found:

That’s right, folks.  There in the “tween” section of your local Halloween store lies everything you need to make your pre-teen daughter into the hooker you always dreamed she would be.

What happened to the bums?  What happened to the ballerinas??  What happened to the magical days of sending your child out in a cardboard box wondering if they were going to return hobbling or up-right????

I’ll tell you what’s happened.  Those costumes have been replaced by red leather boots, fake lashes, and dominatrix gloves.  My head started to swim when I realized that I still have one daughter to go and that by the time my 5-year-old is 10…we might be flipping through a vast selection of pre-teen Halloween pasties.

All I can say is this:  Watch where you’re going on Halloween this year.  ‘Cause there will be some 8-year-olds out there in stiletto boots and skirts so tight they can barely walk.  They’re sugared up and can’t see anything through their S&M masks.

Talk about scary.


  1. So very true and so very sad. Halloween is nothing like it was when we were all growing up. Using your imagination to come up with a costume weeks in advance was part of the fun...Now it is non-existant, everything must be "purchased". What a shame. Great article.

  2. I hear ya cluckin' big chicken. I had to call and request an exchange to a large for K's costume as her medium (supposedly an 8-10) was WAY too small. She is being one of the "Monster High" characters, which I'm not thrilled about, but at least she didn't want to be a police woman or a nurse!

  3. Oh Cath! I remember your sister's cardboard costumes so well! C and I were always a bit jealous. ;) I had no idea that you only escaped that fate by being so clever. As a kindy teacher, I know that kids love a good challenge- so try challenging them to a costume making contest this year- see what they come up with from stuff they find in the house. Happy Halloween.
    P.S. Southern California Halloween is even worse than the pics you showed. You are lucky to be in the middle of the country!

  4. Linds...I think next year I'm going to hand then each $5 and take them to the craft store and Good Will and see what they come up with!!

  5. I agree with you all about the loss of the fun we had thinking up our costumes weeks in advance out of things around the house, and about the slutty costumes out there for's sickening, and we're on the east coast which is pretty bad, too. However, I can tell you this...being a single working widowed mom, I don't have time to figure out a costume!! I'm lucky I had the hour to get to the Halloween store and pick out costumes for my kids. Widowchick's idea of going to the thrift stores is great though...I wish I'd thought of it when my kids were little (although I did use hand-me-down costumes from friends). My kids are teens now and all they do is throw on a hat and go get the candy. One more thing I don't have to worry about (although as we all know teens come with different problems!!)