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A week or two ago, one of my friends from back in Florence, S.C., posted online a photograph she’d taken recently of a woman standing in a checkout line at a store somewhere around there. The woman had long pink and black hair and was wearing a long Renaissance-style black dress with lace around the hem and long sleeves with the shoulders cut out — punk rock hair and a witch’s outfit. My friend told the woman she liked her costume. The woman replied, “It’s not a costume.”
Some of the people who commented on the photo suggested maybe the woman thinks every day was Halloween. If only!
I wish every day was Halloween. (Also, I think the woman’s outfit was pretty cool. Truth be told, I have a similar dress in my wardrobe.) I look forward to Halloween more than Easter, Christmas and my birthday.
As a kid, it wasn’t the prospect of collecting loads of free candy that made me anticipate Halloween so much, although I’d fight my kid brother for the bigger cut of our collected loot. I’d do my best to snag all the Tootsie Rolls and Heath bars while pushing the Bit-o-Honey (ugh) and Mounds candy bars (double ugh) into his share.
When I was a Brownie in Girl Scouts, my dad took me to my troop’s father-daughter pumpkin-carving contest. Dad carved out the design I’d traced on the surface and I scooped out the pumpkin innards. Then I touched my face and eyes. Then my face ballooned, my eyes swelled shut, and I couldn’t breathe. That’s how we discovered I’m deathly allergic to raw pumpkin. No jack-o’-lanterns for me since then. Bummer.
But Halloween still has lots of great things going for it, and I love celebrating it as an adult. For one thing, it’s the only popular holiday to include cats. Today, my clowder of three includes Pepper, an enormous, green-eyed, black shorthair who doubles as constant Halloween décor in my home, although he is the most affectionate and least frightening creature on earth.
My favorite part of Halloween, then and now, is getting to make and wear costumes. Through the years, I’ve been Princess Leia from “Star Wars,” a PowerPuff Girl (Buttercup), a “South Park” character (Wendy Testaburger), and Magenta from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” to name a few. I think it’s such fun to be creative and play a character who reflects a part of your personality, or else have an excuse to not be yourself for a day.
The ghoulish aspect of Halloween appeals to me, too. I appreciate quality horror movies — from old flicks featuring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price to more modern classics like “Psycho,” “The Exorcist,” and, of course, “Halloween.” I also enjoy exploring graveyards, haunted houses and trails any time of year, day or night. A good scare — especially when you’re not in any real danger — can be healthy. I think Halloween is a way to recognize all the real or imaginary awfulness you haven’t experienced, and, by that logic, the holiday segues nicely into Thanksgiving.
This year, circumstances won’t allow my best friend Tracy and I to celebrate our favorite holiday together. As different as our backgrounds are and as opposite as our personalities seem to be, a love of All Hallow’s Eve is one of the things we have in common.
Tracy’s overcome more hardship and tragedies than many people twice our age have, and lately she’s been battling serious health problems like a champ. She’s one of the strongest people I know, refusing to let anyone or anything crush her spirit and faith. I’m truly thankful to have a friend like her.
So, while we can’t postpone Halloween, we can celebrate it any time we want. And we will. Also, if I can lure Tracy down here from her place back in the Pee Dee, you’re likely to spot the two of us about Brunswick County. I’ll be the one with the orange streaks in her hair, and I might be dressed like a witch.
Happy Halloween! Be safe.
Jackie Torok is the managing editor of the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.