The rule is, your Hallowe’en costume should be either be a horror creature, or else something clever and funny and preferably inanimate. Be a deer or a demon or an avocado or a donut or a steak. Don’t dress up as any kind of a person.
The only time you may dress up as a person is when you already look exactly like that kind of person, in which case, depending on the circumstances, it may or may not be much of a costume, but I digress.
A year ago I broke this rule and here’s what happened.
I am a middle-aged blond woman. I went as Mario from Super Mario Bros. My costume consisted of a fake black mustache and the trademark Mario hat. (It was a costume of convenience. My kids had developed an interest in Mario and Luigi, and had already acquired the props.) It was a not terribly convincing costume, since with my shocking white skin and light-colored, curly hair poking out from under the hat, there was no disguising that I was a lady of Dutch ancestry. Also, I don’t own any blue coveralls.
Trick-or-treating in our then neighborhood was the most fun I’ve ever had trick-or-treating. People decorate their houses, come outside, and sit in lawn chairs in costume, holding bowls of candy, sometimes flanked by a glowing brazier or a bowl of dry ice. The streets throng with families. All the little kids and many of the parents are excitedly complimenting one another’s costumes. Cars, if they venture out at all, drive at 2 mph. Everyone is feeling happy and excited. No one is drunk, but their inhibitions are down. It’s a real party atmosphere.
(The year my one son was two, he was so cute that people kept giving him extra candy. After an hour, his trick-or-treat bucket was so heavy that he couldn’t carry it. But I’m digressing again.)
When I showed up in my Mario costume, it was immediately recognized by a mustachioed, curly-haired man about my own age. He pointed at me and yelled at the top of his voice,
“Look! It’s an older Greek woman!”
Then as I doubled over in laughter, he added, “That’s how we tease our Grandmas.”
Darn. I was trying to appropriate Italian culture.