Like many Gen Xers, when news broke that Hollywood was making a Jem and the Holograms movie, I was thrilled. And super nervous. Because Hollywood can be the worst and Jem is the best. Maybe I’m not the target audience and the fact that I have even paid attention to this may be the saddest thing ever, but this is MY CHILDHOOD they are dealing with, and I don’t take that lightly.
About 8 years ago, the newspaper that employed me, The News Leader, decided to give me space in the paper to write a column. I have no idea what they were thinking, but being an attention monger, I was all over it like white on rice.
Anyway, one of my favorite columns was my Halloween piece. Mainly because I thought it was hilarious. So every year for the past few, I’ve republished it and laughed at myself all over again. So here you go. My attempt at Halloween Humor.
First published in 2003. Or 2004. Or some time, who freaking cares.
As the holiday season approaches, I have something from my past that I need to reconcile with you. This time of year always brings back a very painful memory from my youth, and I feel that is finally time to bite the bullet and discuss it with you.
I am angry at you, Mother, for the humiliation and shame I felt when you had me dress as a California Raisin for Halloween. Not once, but twice.
Two times, in both fourth and fifth grade, at the tender ages of 10 and 11, you had me slip into my pink leotard and tights, and then, without apology, you made me wear a brown garbage bag.
How could you?
You were good at so many other things. You always cooked the best grilled cheese sandwiches. You let me stay up late on Saturday nights to watch “The Muppet Show.” Christmas and birthdays were great. But what happened on Halloween?
I know that you weren’t a make-your-own-clothes kinda mom. That’s fine, we didn’t live on “Little House on the Prairie.” So I didn’t expect you to whip up one of those homemade elaborate costumes that so many of my friends wore to Lauren Clayton’s fourth-grade Halloween party. But why couldn’t we go to the one-month-a-year costume store at the mall and drop $40 on a “Lucy” from the “Peanuts” costume that would rip in five minutes like my cousin Jennifer got? I promise I wouldn’t have suffocated behind that mask.
Or couldn’t I have gone through your closet and put on one of your favorite dresses and gone as Barbie? My clothes were out of the question. I had already utilized anything good from my closet in years past when I was a punk rocker and fairy princess. Would one cocktail dress ruined at the expense of your daughter’s Halloween dream be too much to ask?
I can understand dressing me in a garbage bag once, by the way. The California Raisins were all the rage in 1987. It was kind of clever, the way that you disregarded the danger of putting a plastic bag over your child’s head all in the name of trick-or-treating. But two years in a row? Weren’t you concerned that you shouldn’t tempt fate twice? What if I had tripped over my stylish Keds and smothered to death in someone’s yard? No one would have found me for days; they would think I was just a Halloween prop.
And surely you remember from your youth the importance of creativity and originality in choosing a costume. It would have been a major faux pas, I’m sure, for you to dress as Marsha Brady one year and Laurie Partridge the next, to use pop culture from your wonder years. So why have your only child adorned in the exact same outfit two years in a row? I know, I know. There was a whole bunch of California Raisins. But no one knew them apart. They didn’t have separate identities.
But, despite this wrong-doing, I forgive you, mother. I will not let these two indiscretions erase all the good you did the rest of those years. Now that I think about it, you must have felt some guilt for what you had done. I think I recall getting everything I wanted those years for Christmas. Ahh, the give and take of the mother/daughter relationship. Who says only children are spoiled?
Your loving daughter,