The Ghosts of Halloweens Past

Pardon my Dickensian reference, but I’m sure I’m not the only one with Halloween memories that hover, ghost-like, over Halloween present.

There was one very romantic Halloween. It was just a couple of years after college. One of my former roommates and I were hosting a party at her boyfriend’s large apartment. She was in grad school and she assured me that I was going to enjoy meeting a cute, slightly older guy in the same MFA program.

He was dressed as a Viking and looked like a Hollywood Viking: tall, blonde, bearded, athletic, square-jawed… the entire central casting stereotype. I was dressed as a medieval troubadour — bare feet, flowers in my hair, in a dress with a tight bodice and a full skirt, with something lute-ish strapped to my back. (Thankfully no one asked me to play it.) My former roommate was right about the Viking and me. He drove me home after the party and a tumultuous romance ensued.

Romance YES — Happily Ever After — Nah… not even close. Maybe if I’d been dressed as a Viking Princess, or maybe if he’d been a knight? No, I don’t think a costume change would have done it. Still, that experience was a good Halloween Past “ghost” that hovers and colors my thoughts on the holiday.

Yes, Halloween can be scary and ghoulish and ugly and dangerous. But it can also be romantic and the characters we become, if only for a night or a party, reveal something about how we see ourselves deep in our imaginations. Why was I dressed as a medieval wandering musician? I was feeling rootless, independent and more than a bit confused about what I was supposed to do and where I was supposed to go next. I also had the dress. Why was he a Viking? That’s a good question. I should have asked him.

Who will you choose to be — if only for a night, if only for Halloween?



  1. I like to go out as a serial killer, they look like everyone else.

    I have never been good at designing costumes. I think my best one was the year I had a gamorian guard mask ( the pig like guards from Jabba’s palace in revenge of the Jedi). I wore my chain mail and colored visible skin green to match the mask. I made a wooden axe and painted it for the right look and even had a cloak. I was an Orc out to kill me some elves.

    • Candy

      Just the fact that you have chain mail in your closet indicates that you mean business!

      I love the serial killer idea. Just the guy next door. “He was quiet. Kept to himself, but he was always friendly when you said hello. Just your average guy.” (When he wasn’t driving through the night to find his next target. Scary stuff…

      • Add to that, I made it myself. Weighs in around 20 lbs or so.

        Yep, one of my thoughts of future work included becoming an artisanal armorer. May sound odd but I do know at least one company that makes chain mail for ren faires and such now. And then there are the sword makers and more…

        • Candy

          There’s a market — albeit a niche market — for chain mail and other armor. One of my ghostwriting clients work in Rennie fairs as a teen and young woman. She told me some pretty wild stories about life on that circuit. Go for it!

  2. I think I’d like to dress up as a ninja! With swords and shuriken. 🙂 Or possibly as a lady Samurai… nah stick to the ninja. Don’t know what that says about me. Possibly the closest costume I can get to that of a hermit. 🙂

    • Candy

      If you lived in my neighborhood in NYC you could dress as a Ninja on Halloween without a second glance. Actually, you could dress as a Ninja any day and only raise an eyebrow or two.

      As for the hermit thing, I periodically hibernate for a day or two. No costumes required but it’s very refreshing. Staying in makes going out — to even the most ordinary destinations exciting.

  3. Right! I’m on the first plane out to the Big Apple. Oh wait, gotta renew my passport first, and pick the ninja suit up from the drycleaners and… Maybe next week? lol

    • Candy

      LOL… due to the time difference, you’ve just managed to start my morning with a giggle and a smile. Definitely the TREAT end of the Trick or Treat equation!

  4. Every years for a long time, I say I’ll dress up and then I don’t. I still fantasize about cool costumes though. The last time I dressed up was as a witch when I was waiting tables. I had on a sword necklace that from a distance could be mistaken as a cross. One of my customers got all in a huff with me and let me know how inappropriate it was for a witch to be wearing a cross. Then I pointed out my trinket was of Excalibur. Idaho… ’nuff said.

    • Candy

      It’s true that different costumes “fit” better certain in places. Many school systems now have zero tolerance for anything that might be considered violent (including the plastic axe that came with my friend’s son’s fireman costume) but no one would stop a kid from dressing as a football player. Different strokes of violence… It’s funny but I think some witches might get in trouble in my neck of the woods for not being appropriately witchy & Wiccan. Again, it’s all about context.

      I had a great idea before the storm last year and may try it this year, but I’m almost afraid to plan it. Once bitten by a hurricane, twice shy — and ready with flashlights.