What do a pirate, a monkey, a giraffe, a ladybird, a peacock, Micky and Minnie Mouse and a lobster have in common?
That’s right. They are not remotely scary.
Here is how two innocent Brits managed to misunderstand American Halloween conventions and terrify a room full of babies and toddlers:
Baby A looked pretty terrifying, I think you’ll agree, even before she threw toy eggshells around like so many corpses and started brandishing a warlike tambourine. Before we knew it she had reduced three children to tears. Or, as I should say, taking on the mantra of ‘blame the parents not the child’, we had reduced three children to tears by applying green face paint, dyeing a babygro and socks a fetching shade of green, attaching goblin ears to a hairband and fashioning a jerkin from a bin liner. The effect is, I’m sure you’ll agree, intensely amateur. And here again we failed: looking around it was clear that you are supposed to buy a costume. Unless you can achieve something a little more impressive with your own sewing (or in our case, mainly stapling) skills.
I should say, in mitigation of a room full of American babies, that there was a spider, and a very scary one-eyed blue monster. There was also a Harry Potter. But clearly the main point is not to be scary – it is to dress up, and to dress up for days on end.
This party was held on Sunday. I assumed this was because Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year and a weekend party allowed everyone to switch their celebrations to the weekend. But NO. It just allows for the costume opportunities to proliferate. We should be dressing baby A up again today to just – hang out. Or to go to Halloween storytime at the library; or the Fairy Tale Trail at the Woman’s Center of Evanston, which is advertised as both ‘non-frightening’ and an opportunity to get more wear out of your costume. The talk at baby groups for weeks has been of nothing but Halloween outfits (hot baby trends 2012: lions and Superman), how to get a good photograph of your child in costume, and whether matching mother and baby outfits are too much. How could they be?
In other news, the houses are just as splendidly decorated as they were two years ago when I last posted. There is a terrifying place up the street with glowing skulls and a blood spattered butcher skeleton hanging in the doorway, but I forgot to photograph it after dark. So the winner this year must be a house on Noyes Street with more inflatables than I could count, including this Dracula in a coffin, with a motion sensor that makes it open when you pass by.
And finally, I must share this gem of American insanity. Dentists are buying back Halloween candy that children have acquired while out trick or treating – to send to the troops overseas.