I hate Halloween. There, I said it. And I won’t apologize for it. I’ve accepted it, I’m prepared for the ridicule, and you won’t change my mind. I have heard all of the “but it’s so fun” and “you can be anything you want” and “dogs dressed as cats are cute” excuses I can take. Because frankly, it’s not fun for everyone, I can be anything I want anytime I want, and my dog has no desire to be dressed as a cat. It’s why he is a dog. And after years of asking myself why it is I’ve become a Halloween hater, I think it’s time for me to admit to myself why. When I was 12 years old, in a fit of Hallow’s Eve desperation, I dressed as a girl for a Halloween party.
I’ve always been a bit of a procrastinator. And this particular year, I had put exactly zero thought into what I’d be for the neighborhood Halloween party. The day arrived, time was becoming a factor, and I was trying to scrounge something up for the candy fueled sugar-rager. My parents were helping me out, but nothing we had in the house was able to cross that costume threshold, the one you need to strike a balance between comfort and looking like you made an effort.
As I scrambled throughout the house, somewhere in the other room my older brother said in a snarky tone-the only language 14-year-old boys speak-that I should dress up as a girl. Truthfully, I can’t confirm if it was my brother or not, but looking back it he’s the most likely culprit.
What happened next was a bit of a blur, but having a sister two years older meant that the pieces needed for the costume were more readily available. And with that, before I even had time to object, there was an eyeliner pencil in my face, and somehow mascara and lipstick became part of the equation. Being the youngest of three also lends itself to being told what to do without the ability to object, and this was no exception. In my head I was wallowing in anxiety but I was powerless. I was being transformed from Andrew to Andrea and it was too late.
Being 12 years old is the pinnacle of the awkward pre-teen years. Being a 12-year-old boy dressed as a girl for Halloween brings with it a whole new level of awkwardness. Walking into the party, I was brimming with anxiety, but as I looked around the room, it became clear to me that no one really recognized me. Whether that was a compliment or not, I wasn’t sure. But as the night went on, I was just some kid dressed as a girl. There was still a lingering fear as I saw kids I knew from school that I’d be called out. The jig would be up. But as the party wrapped up, I was in the clear. My parents were on the way to pick me up, and I’d managed to navigate the absurd bobbing for apples, the ridiculous cake walk, and all the other games and activities in complete anonymity. Until I saw Kenny. Kenny lived down the street from me and as we walked out to wait for our rides, he looked at me, completely confused.
I froze. I wasn’t sure if I should own up to it or not. And in a split second, I panicked, and blew the top off the whole thing.
“Hey Kenny,” I said. He looked at me perplexed again, and the confusion shifted to hysterical laughter. Here. It. Comes. They are all gonna laugh at me. But it never came. I was saved by my mother, who for the first time ever, was right on time to pick me up. (That’s a whole different blog, trust me.) I’d made it through a night as a 12-year-old drag queen intact. (That’s a sentence I never imagined I would write.) And the next day at school, not a word was spoken. Kenny was in a different class, so I managed to side step his inevitable cruelty. And all the other kids had been to hyped up on sugar to even notice.
Halloween hasn’t been the same since. That was pretty much the last year I ever dressed in a costume, save for the occasional college Halloween party where I had costumes that were 90 percent convenience and 10 percent creativity. And it isn’t just the year i dressed as a girl that forever poisoned Halloween for me. It’s the ungrateful kids who ask for more candy, or when the kid who has a mask and a grocery bag and is clearly too old to be trick or treating. Or my absolute favorite, the parent who says his kid is in the car and she’s getting his candy for him. So you can take Halloween, I’ll eat myself stupid on Thanksgiving. Comfortably. In my own clothes.