I have been sooo busy, poppets! But here I am again. I have even managed to carve a jack o'lantern despite not having time to get a pumpkin: I remembered the old butternut squash squatting on our cookbooks. The year simply would not be a proper year without a jack o'lantern on October 31; I could not cope.
Now I was going to write a condemnation of trampy Hallowe'en costumes, but then I remember in time that last year I dressed as a Jordan Wannabe, and if you are British you know what that means: fake tan, fake eyelashes, tons o' slap, and trampy outfit. I thought if I went really over the top, it would be more funny than trampy. However, I knew I had failed to reach the level of funniness when the church organist arrived, took one look and said, "You should go to church like that."
I would love to post a photograph of my wonderful last year Jordan Wannabe costume, but the internet is forever and I would like to keep my job. Fortunately, none of my guests are Facebook fans. How girls dare to wear trampy costumes in the Age of Facebook is a mystery. I repeat: the internet is forever.
When I was at an American Catholic college, the conservative student newspaper complained that Hallowe'en on campus seemed like nothing but an excuse for girls--and, increasingly, guys--to wear sexy costumes: sexy nurse, sexy witch, sexy vampire--possibly even sexy Lonerganian Teaching Assistant (whoa!). It made seriously serious Catholic girls really uncomfortable to come to parties in unsexy costumes and, indeed, one of the great life lessons I have learned regarding my own confidence is that I must never come to a party looking bad. If I went anywhere dressed as a ladybug,I would try to be the most beautiful ladybug I could be. I'm not saying I would be a sexy ladybug; I'm saying I would aim for a Pretty Ladybug With High Self Esteem.
I bet the Catholic blogsphere is full of diatribes against Sexy Costumes today. Undoubtedly sexy costumes for children are just completely inappropriate. And, yes, really we Catholic adults should do our best not to scandalize others, although how we are likely to do that if the evening's community standard is Sexy French Nurse is beyond me.
However, I reluctantly admit that "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is a lousy attitude, even on Hallowe'en. My advice is to search the internet for Japanese goth outfits and take notes. Goths, bless 'em, tend to go for long skirts and black kilts. Guy or girl, you can dress all in black, iron your hair, powder your face, indulge in tons and tons of grey eyeshadow, pop in some vampire teeth and--hey presto! Modest yet attractive in a creepy way. If you have the money or the sewing skills, Beheaded French Aristo is also modest, attractive and creepy.
I feel a bit guilty harping on attractive, and if you are the kind of girl who enjoys dressing up in a gorilla suit or as a nuclear holocaust survivor, then I am full of admiration and giggles. However, I personally need to feel confident when I go to a party, especially if there are strangers or university students or such of my husband's pals who are under the impression that I am a little sister to be upbraided and oppressed at every opportunity.
The thing is, there is such a thing as being attractive in a classy way, even on Hallowe'en. Some of my girlfriends back home had a party where all the female guests had to dress like Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's; they looked amazing. And for one of my favourite birthday parties ever, all the guests dressed up as Goths, many for the first time ever. We all looked great, even I, who was fighting the flu.
Now doubtless many of you are down on Hallowe'en, but I love it because it is the one day in the North American calendar when everyone can indulge their imagination to the extent of dressing up in costumes (and I love spooky stuff, so thrilling and so much less disgusting than the horrors of real life). Anyway, if you are going to a party tonight, I hope you have a very good time, and never forget you can look great without being flagrantly immodest, even on Hallowe'en.
The photo is of part of a tomb in a mostly Presbyterian Edinburgh graveyard. Spooky!