All Hallow's Eve Ill
I grew up in a suburb that was minted in the late 1970s. Greentree Village (still standing) is a collection of town-homes, “garden apartments,” and a few cul-de-sacs of single- family detached homes in Central Burnaby. My folks still live in the house I grew up in. The whole village comprises a little over three hundred homes and is flat. There’s a strata council, an indoor pool, a playing field that never drained properly, and several playgrounds still sporting the pressure treated wood of yesteryear.
While not a complete affront on the design side of things, it is small, insular, safe, and quite unremarkable…but for one night of the year.
Halloween saw kids from as far away as Ladner deposited at our open-gated community’s main commercial thoroughfare; the corner store. From there, laneways like Elm Grove, Hickory Court and other tree-lined streets radiate out like neural pathways to middle class suburban psychoses and identical dimmer-switched entryways (the only real variation in the town homes was the Bizarro effect: conjoined units were mirror-images of one another. This simultaneously contributed to a sense of being at home in identical houses, and an overdeveloped sense of unease in those whose layout was opposite your own).
Yep, Greentree Village. Even jack o’ lanterns felt safe there. There was little risk of being caved in by any but the most unsavoury of teenagers (why are they always named “Shane?”). Parents staked out one end of the development as their kids made the slow plod in non-reflective back cloaks and un-Incredible Hulk masks (remember Lou Ferrigno?) towards the designated pick up zone.
Three hundred plus houses all lumped closely together. What a haul.
Flash forward to Rossland a scant two decades later (that’s right- I trick or treated ‘til twelve years of age).
As with many things in the Mountain Kingdom, making the door-to-door trek here is decidedly more ‘core. Kids from out of the area don’t get dropped off here. They run away. In fear. Downhill. The up and down routine can see kids log more vertical than a day spent lapping Silverlode, and the elevation and season combine to make for some highly adaptive costuming.
“What are you?”
“Spider man. In a parka.”
“And your pal?”
“Batman. In wool.”
Awesome. These are brave souls indeed, many of them packing an unhealthy dose of flu virus and head colds door to door: miniature plague carriers spreading borderline bubos throughout our fair city. The trick is on you, foolish homeowner.
Still, disease mongering aside, you have to respect their tenacity. Going door to door in Rossland is truly hardcore, less doorbell ringing than parkour-like gymnastics as little monsters mount and descend crumbling stairways and Kootenay Karpentered decks, all the while garbed in awkward nylon attire crafted by their contemporaries in far-flung sweatshops.
Yes, costume selection has come a long way since my halcyon Halloween days. Last year I had a seven year old show up at my doorstep dressed as Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Wow. Watching him toting around his dad’s retired brush saw (bar in place, but no chain), was the freakiest thing I’ve seen in years. At the advanced age of eight this year, I’m expecting him to turn up as Pinhead from Hell-Raiser, Q-tips glued to his head in lieu of needles. Kids here are full on.
I have to say, though, that I really do prefer the ‘scary’ costumes to Barbie or unimaginative “I’m a skier” outfits. No you’re not. You’re just lazy. Scary it up, kid. No candy for you.
And the occasional cross-dressing kids? Good for them. There was a little guy in a witch costume last year, pointy hat, broom and all, and while his mortified dad stood by the curb, presumably admiring my flashing or privacy glass, the kid was pumped.
“I’m a witch!”
“And there’s nothing wrong with that,” I assured him.
He got extra–brave little man.
As for the adults, really, let’s try to keep the theme less ‘sexy nurse’ and more ‘day of the dead’ this year. I know, shedding inhibitions and showing a little skin is great, but make the old flesh a little rotten this time around. Read up on the pagan roots, etc, and you’ll see that All Hallows Eve (is there an apostrophe in there or not? Help me out here, grammar goblins) is supposed to be about everything ghoulish
I think I grew up more attuned to that than a lot of people due to Greentree Village being bordered on one side by Forest Lawn Cemetery and on the other by BCIT; horror and science fiction surrounded suburbia. SCARY!
So when you’re making your costume picks for this year, please, don’t wimp out and go to the Thrift Store only to emerge at the Halloween social as “Mister Furley from Three’s Company” in your polyester pants and Nehru vest. At least be Dead Mr. Furley. Or Pinhead in a parka.