Case in point, a native NYer friend of mine told me that she only went trick-or-treating twice as a child. TWICE! And this year I opened the door to trick-or-treaters in my building a total of 5 times. The bulk of my candy was taken by my neighbors who asked if I had any left as I was leaving for the evening. Granted, my friend (the child of a dentist immigrant) may not be the typical example of a child's experience but I'm not sure how atyical that experience is so I'm going to broadly generlize and roll with the idea that Halloween in NYC - especially Manhattan, is for adults.
For one thing - there is the parade. I've never been because I hate crowds and I don't really get parades but New York's Village Halloween Parade is certainly not suitable for children. And from what I have heard, some of it is only suitable for, ahem "adults".
For another, in the weeks leading up to Halloween, not only do random costume shops start cropping up all across the City but one particular hard to categorize chain of beauty products stores turns into Halloween Central - Ricky's. Actually, it turns into Halloween Central for all of those girls dressing up in those plastic sexy nurse, sexy little red riding hood, etc. costumes.
Side note: a few years ago when I was faced with the dilemma of throwing a costume together at the last minute I decided to sort of make fun of the sexy costume craze of turning the most innocuous things into "sexy" and dressed as ironic sexy auto mechanic by wearing a pair of coveralls I bought for my high school auto shop class (wherein I learned how to ditch class after roll call with my partner by explaining to the teacher the shop was full and we had to work on our car in the parking lot) with heels and a lacy camisole. I probably added a wig to the ensemble as well. It was far from sexy what with the slouchiness of the whole thing couple with long sleeves and long pants. Yet, people either failed to catch the irony of it or actually thought I looked sexy in it and took it literally. Or, maybe the third option was they felt sorry for me for misunderstanding the definition of sexy . . . I still thought it was a funny costume.
Back to my point - Halloween in New York is geared toward adults. And it is fun! There are parties all over the city and riding the subway and walking around on Halloween dressed up is pretty much the best part. Especially when the weather cooperates as well as it did this year.
So what was I?
I had no good ideas and no great party invitations but I knew I would feel pretty bad if I let a Saturday night Halloween with relatively balmy weather slip by without an attempt to celebrate. So I decided to turn myself Goth.
It was all pretty simple (and fun!). I wore the same basic outfit I wore last year as one of those guitar girls playing back up for Robert Palmer. See the difference?
It was all about changing up the makeup and accessories. Add a wig, fishnets and some fake tattoos and instead of '80s music video, I'm goth girl! The hardest part was the makeup, which I did all on my own this year.
For the first time since I moved here, I ventured into the Halloween mecca of Ricky's. That is, I ventured in after I had to WAIT IN LINE!!! There were only two procrastinating people in front of me when I arrived around 3 pm on Halloween day. Once inside I realized that shopping early is a good thing and the enforcement of maximum capacity was necessary because it was jam packed. The already narrow aisles were made more constricted by the loads of costumes hanging everywhere. It didn't help that one guy wandering the store was dragging his rollaboard suitcase behind him. It was an unseasonably warm and humid day and inside the store it was stifling. But I found some fake tattoos, a choker and wrist band (with spikes and skulls!) and squeezed my way into the checkout line that wound its way through half the store. I picked up some black liquid eyeliner at the checkout counter and was nearly finished with my costume shopping. Across the street I bought some baby powder to brush on my face under my makeup because according to one goth makeup tip site I stumbled onto in my research, this helped get the desired paleness.
But the hardest part was the smoky eyes. Thanks to the world of internet, I got an excellent YouTube how-to demonstration I was able to sort of copy as my friend looked on. Let me tell you something about liquid eye liner, especially the black kind, it is not as easy to put on as that goth chick on the video demonstrated! Mine was smearing and smudging everywhere. Plus, I learned that the inside part of my lower lid is ticklish. That's right, it tickled to put eyeliner on there! Plus, when I blinked, it smeared all over my eyeball! I went through a lot of q-tips and eye makeup remover but ultimately managed to do this:
Here are a few more photos of the process:
The friend who gave me moral support while I was getting ready was not interested in dressing up beyond the red sweater and devil horns she was already sporting because she was overworked and not interested in the cultural experience of going to a Mormon singles Halloween dance. I don't blame her. I wasn't interested in the experience either since I have been experiencing it for essentially twenty years.
That is right, by my calculations, I have been going to pretty much the same stupid Halloween party since I was 14. And guess what? Despite the fact that I have moved around to all sorts of different locations, the dance remains the same! There is no improving on it.
And yet I go.
Why? Because that was my best option. Actually, because a friend told me she would meet me there before we went looking for another party. Also, because last year it was kind of fun. Not the case this year.
This year, I wanted to leave as soon as I stepped off the elevator and into the brightly lit hallway. That desire intensified the moment I stepped into the dark gym with the unidentifiable music blaring and the stench of sweaty bodies hit my nostrils. My friend was right in front of me and she looked bored. It was too loud to talk so we just stood there. I asked her if she wanted to walk around and she said she already did that. So we just stood there.
She said she was waiting for one other person before leaving so we went and sat on a couch in the hallway. It seemed everyone we saw was waiting for someone before they could leave. It was the most depressing party I think I have ever attended.
But her costume was fun. She was a Scare Bear. Specifically Goth Bear. So we were kind of coordinated. This picture doesn't really give the full effect to her costume but you get the idea.
As a funny sidenote (I'm full of them today), I was scanning through my Reader this morning when I saw a post title that did not jive with the blog: The New York Regional Singles Halloween Dance. The blog is a movie (and sometimes book) review site I have been reading for ages and as far as I am aware has absolutely no cross-over with Mormons ever. At first I thought I was reading it wrong, then I clicked on it and discovered it was reviewing the memoir of someone I know and that is the title of her book! Did I mention I know the author? I don't mean I know her in that we hang out and call each other and stuff but more that I know her in that we are both Mormon and have lived in NYC for a long time and our paths have frequently crossed so I know random snipits about her even though we may have never actually met officially. So I had to buy her book and I am now anxiously awaiting its arrival because I am pretty sure I will be able to relate. And if you want to know why she named her book that long and cumbersome title - watch the little video of her on that Amazon link to her book a couple of lines up and let her explain. Also, try not to fall in love with her. I now wish our paths had crossed more frequently.
Where was I? Oh yes. Once my friend's friend finally showed up (after we had moved our waiting to the couch in the lobby), we left.
But let me say one more thing about this sad Halloween dance and why it is so depressing aside from the fact that it is in a church gym full of the most socially awkward and despondent singles from the tri-state area (because it isn't just for Manhattan Mormons, some poor soles come all the way from Connecticut, Long Island and New Jersey!). It kind of represents everything that is wrong with the way I think singles are treated in my church. Like children. There are older missionary couples staked out all over the place. For what purpose? Oh, to chaperone, I'm sure. You have to sign in at the front desk with an elderly gentleman who compliments your costume and tells you to go on and have a good time. I am 34 years old and should have outgrown that sort of thing when I was 18 and old enough to move away from home. I do not understand why there are chaperones. If they are concerned with keeping random riff raff from mistakenly wandering in off the street to cause trouble, they already have a security guard at the front who should be able to attend to that. Each year you swear you won't go back but each year you realize you have no other options and find yourself there with the optimistic thought that this year it will be different and somehow better.
Once we managed to leave, the fun started. First off, we got to ride the subway! And the subway on Halloween is fun because you get to see all the crazy costumes. Oh, and show off your own:
We went to an overly crowded party where before long everyone there was a familiar face from the party at the church. So we left. I think I talked to three people.
Then we actually had fun. It was just about midnight so we staked out a table at a corner pizza place (with amazingly good pizza!) and talked about a variety of things and watched people. It was fantastic! We saw slutty girls and ghoulish guys and a cute girl dressed as a lady bug and another dressed as a lamb. We ran into the tall black guy who showed up at the Mormon party in search of free booze but was sorely disappointed to only find soda. We asked if he knew anyone or just showed up and after a minute of stammering he admitted he had crashed. Served him right to show up at the one party in the area that was dry!
And that was Halloween 2009. Next year I need to either pull myself together and throw my own party or grow up and opt out of the whole thing because despite the fact that it ended well, I mean it this time when I say I cannot face going to one more church dance.