People often ask me if [The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance] is a book about Halloween. Sadly, it’s not, it’s named after an actual LDS church dance that I’ve attended every year for the last nine years that takes place in Manhattan. That being said, I LOVE Halloween. My favorite thing about the bizarre holiday is what it does to my imagination. Like how I felt when I read [The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, One-Hundred Years of Solitude, or Where the Sidewalk Ends] for the first time. And even as an adult I can get completely lost in the making of an original costume. Hours will go by and I will still be hot-gluing.
Although, using my imagination has never been difficult. I grew up in a very inventive home, thanks, in part, to my father. He had a way of making our home a party. On one occasion, he came home from a boring day at the office and yelled, “Line up, tallest to shortest.” He’d seen this in The Sound of Music and had been using it ever since.
All five of us kids lined up against the wall.
“Do you guys know what cereal killers are?” he asked.
We shook our heads no.
“You guys are the cereal killers!” he said emphatically.
He piled us into the van and drove us to Fred Meyer. While he bought us masks, gloves, and squirt guns, we each got to pick out any cereal that we wanted.
From there we headed to several of his friends’ houses, assembling in a clump on their doorsteps while Tina, my oldest sister, rang the bell.
As the door opened we cocked our squirt guns with one hand, and held up our cereal boxes with the other: “Hands up,” we yelled. “We’re the cereal killers!” Then, at my father’s instruction, we went into his friends’ houses and forced them to eat cereal.
It’s only when I tell stories like these to friends that I realize exactly how bizarre my childhood was
Celebrating Halloween fit right into this insanity. We were encouraged to dress however we saw fit: Earwax, an ink stain, or a melting iceberg, nothing was off limits.
The best costume I ever came up with was in fourth grade. We were having prawns for dinner one night in early October when the idea came to me. I’d taken all the discarded prawn heads and put them onto my fingers and I was chasing my younger sister around the house when I caught a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror. With prawns for fingers I looked like the most magnificent witch. I decided to replicate this look for Halloween, only I went even further. On top of prawn fingers, I had a pointy witch hat, painted green face and I added a jumbo pickle for a nose. Best costume ever award… here I come, I thought.
I was genuinely surprised when all the Minnie Mouses, Batmen and Rambos, didn’t get it.
“That’s disgusting,” the Little Mermaid informed me.
“You smell,” a Transformer said.
I’d like to say that I stood up for my costume, but I didn’t. I ate the pickle, since I was never one for wasting food. And then one by one I pulled each prawn head off and tossed them into the garbage can. Their beady little black eyes looked up at me, Don’t leave. It was time for the all school Halloween parade. I had no choice but to go.
My little brother, dressed as a tree-frog, spotted me walking at the front of the parade.
“What happened to your costume?” he ran up to me and asked. Wearing an oversized green t-shirt with green plastic kitchen gloves taped to his hands and feet he looked more like an amoeba than a tree frog. I gestured for him to go away.
“Didn’t you want to be a witch?”
“I am a witch,” I yelled.
“Then where are your hands?”
It’s moments like these that make you love your family more than anyone else. And it’s for moments like this, that holidays were invented.