Friday, October 31, 2014


Happy Halloween.

Today on campus there were more students in costume than I have ever seen before.  I may be out of the loop or maybe I did not get the memo, but it seemed as if a good ten percent of the student body--and staff--were going to classes in costume.  A woman came by the office in the early morning and while I thought I knew who it was, I had to check with a colleague when she left to make sure.  Never a witch in real garb, she looked like she might take off on a broom when she exited the area.

I saw the phantom of the opera, a cowboy, tinker bell, ghouls of several varieties, and costumed others who were not clearly identifiable.  It has been a while since I have taught a regular class, but I spent thirty years doing so. I must have taught on a Halloween or two during that stretch and I just don't recall this.

When I was a kid living in Brooklyn, we would get dolled up and then take paper bags around to the neighbors. You could come away with quite the bounty where I lived. There were thirty six families to a building and maybe as many as twenty buildings within a half hour walk.  Unlike today, very few families did not answer the bell when you rang it, so for weeks after Halloween a kid could get sick to his stomach eating the Mary Janes, miniature milky ways, tootsie rolls, and assorted products that were guaranteed to make the local dentists wealthy in a matter of time.

Now, in my neighborhood at least, a kid would have to walk miles to earn a similar treasure.  My block has, tops, twenty homes and it is a good bet that ten of these will not have anyone home in time to feed the tigers, and pussy cats, and pirates that will make the walk.

It has been a while since I have gone to a Halloween party. I will attribute that some to the company I keep.  Can't see too many professors and deans dressing up like hobos.  When I first moved to Boston it seemed like every year there were a few parties each Halloween that one could choose to attend. I saw my favorite costume of all time at one of these.  It was a couple each of whom were dressed as Hershey Bars.  His said with nuts. Hers said without nuts.

In the early 90s we went to a bar that had a costume requirement. There I saw many creative costumes. The best of the show that night was a guy who looked like he had a power saw through his stomach.  It must have taken him a couple of days to get that right.

There is always something fun about becoming someone else for a short time.  We are all dressed in costume daily.  Those who engage in halloween just change their garb for something atypical at the end of October.

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