Squawk Radio

Monday, October 31, 2005


Hello, and Happy Halloween! Or, Happy Samhain for you more traditional types out there. Halloween is, of course, my favorite holiday of the year. But not for the “she’s into the weird stuff” reason you might think.

First and foremost I love Halloween because it is my mother’s birthday. My mother loved having a Halloween birthday, and my family always made a big fuss over it. I used to always give her black orchids on her birthday, and we had great costume parties. There’s a family story about how Orson Welles ruined her birthday party when she was eight or nine (hey, this was long before my time and I don’t recall what year it was that Mr. Welles pulled his famous prank.) You see, the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds happened during her party, and parents and kids panicked. Now, my grandfather was a big science fiction fan (I come by it genetically) and recognized what was going on. People left despite his reassurances. My mother was mad at Orson Welles for the rest of her life.

One of my earliest memories is of trick or treating when I was around three. I don’t recall what I wore, but I distinctly remember my brother in a cowboy outfit, and going from door to door with other kids.

The last time I went trick or treating I was eighteen, and I didn’t do it voluntarily. Being totally resentful of my grandmother making me take my fourteen year old sister around the neighborhood I put on my shortest skirt, my tightest sweater, some mesh stocking and all the makeup I owned (Yardley and Mary Quant in those days) and spent a lot of time leaning against lampposts. The calls from the neighbors about my dressing up like a hooker got me into so much trouble. I thought it was worth it.

A couple of years later I needed a costume for a party on short notice. So I grabbed a bedspread and a sheet and did an Arab sheik sort of look. I told my friends that I was really a deep cover Mossad agent. So, when I get around to “being inspired” by the Ari plot from Navy NCIS in a future book, remember – I did it first.

I met one of my best friends at a Halloween party. Jody Lynn Nye is a fine writer of science fiction and fantasy, but we’ve been friends since long before either of us was ever published. Our meeting came about at mutual friend’s party. When I arrived at Mike’s place I noticed a Brian Froud elf sitting on his front stoop. This elf turned out to be Jody. If you’ve ever seen the film Dark Crystal, you’ve seen Jody in her elf ears. She is a gelfling.

Dressing up is one of the great things about Halloween. That’s one of the reasons it is America’s second most popular holiday. It’s a time when people get to step out of their everyday selves and put on new personas. It’s all right to dress up, to fantasize, on Halloween.

Actually, it’s all right to do that all the time if it gives you pleasure, but most folk who love costuming don’t know about the subcultures of historical reenactors or science fiction conventions. I used to belong to the SCA. I attend several SF cons every year. I don’t dress up much anymore – having gone pro I now have to act like one when I’m on panels and giving workshops and stuff. However, I love watching the costumers.

A few years back I’d just arrived at the con hotel and was getting into the elevator. Someone yelled “Hold the door” and I did while a bunch of fully tricked out Ghostbusters, and the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man crowded into the elevator with me. They were playing a game my people call “Freaking the mundane”. I almost hated disappointing them by revealing I was one of them. These days dressing like a grownup (except on Halloween) is my costume.
--Susan Sizemore
Connie Brockway, 1:51 PM