For the first six years of my life, I got sick every Halloween.
This played out like a curse. From the moment dusk fell on the night of trick-or-treat, our door bell went off incessantly like an oven timer. I would be in my pajamas, feverish and grumpy, while one neighbor kid after another rubbed their good fortune in my face by swiping a candy from our bowl and high-tailing it off the porch in order to make every second count. There was no sympathy—it was every kid for himself.
I remember on more than one occasion, I begged my parents to let me put on a costume and just stand by the door, as the other kids and their half-drunk parents filtered on and off the porch. That way I could at least pretend to be part of the current of witches, ghosts and Pac-Men.
I’ll explain: I have very few accessible memories from before the age of five, and even still, I believe many of those memories come from photographic-prompting. But I will never forget one Halloween night—I must have been four or five—when my parents answered the door, with a pathetic and sick little-me in tow, to find a grown-man dressed as a toilet. Though I was too young to articulate it then, something about this image rendered many of my beliefs about grown-ups being superior as null and void.
The costume apparatus was so impressive that he pulled a chord and the lid opened, offering up a bowl to put the candy in. I’m sure, what I thought was wow.
My parents laughed, gave him extra candy for his artistic efforts and closed the storm door behind him. But that costume will live on in my memory forever.
The following is an homage to those who are mind-stopping on Halloween, who leave their imprint in our memory like a fingernail X in an over-ripe pear. Whether their execution is genius or awkward enough to inspire recoil, we appreciate their unforgettability.
(Thank you, awkward family photographs, for being one of my go-to mood lifters.)
From the clever, committed and inspired:
To the impressive home-made ensembles:
To the professionally photographed.
Then there are the clever puns:
And then there is simply, the downright inappropriate:
And of course, I had to include one from my own archives:
Cheers to all and to all a good (Halloween) night.
May you wake with a fun-sized chocolate hangover, and with an imprint of at least one memorable costume on your brain.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise