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Essay: Halloween Pookies Give Us the Pulse
Halloween Pookies Give Us the Pulse
By Colleen Foster
Halloween--or Hallowe’en, if you have a soft spot for apostrophes and historical integrity--is fast approaching. Or, since the sacks of Fun Size candy have been on CVS shelves since August, you could say it’s been here for quite some time. We’re just waiting on the Reese’s Pièce de Résistance, i.e., the actual holiday.
Most children who intend to participate in trick-or-treating have already raided Party City or gone DIY for their costumes. Or the parents have done so, in the case of the Babies ‘R Us population.
... And that’s where the real fun is. The Fun Size celebrants.
There will perpetually, predictably be an annual showing of pumpkins and ghosts. Of course there will be a bumper crop of infants zipped up into onesies to resemble various types of produce, like an ear of corn or peas in a pod.
But the real gems are the creative costume ideas, the ones Mommy and Daddy might have concocted after one or two Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ales. And courtesy of the internet, these ideas travel farther and faster nowadays than they did, say, back in 1990 when I was a very befuddled ballerina stuffed into a tulle tutu.
My personal favorite trending one was two years ago when multiple infants exchanged rattles for gavels and morphed into Ruth Baby Ginsburg. With clip-on earrings, lacey collars, and buggy glasses, they were serving up some justice from a Supreme High Chair. (Inevitably that lacey collar would serve the role of bib later. Not all burps can be overruled.)
The dyadic plus and minus of costumes fashioned for this age group is that they are utterly subject to the innovative mercy of their parents. They are to be cooed at, and don’t have the fine motor skills, upright mobility, or teeth necessary to indulge in actual trick-or-treating, so they plopped down on display. They get no say and, like seven-month-old me as Gelsey Kirkland with diaper bulge, will not know until a good decade or so later when photos have documented it for posterity.
So what these costumes really are, as opposed to an adult’s self-assertive whimsical/scary/sexy/classic ensemble, is a statement on what’s culturally topical. They are a cutesy pulse on current events, a way that provokes cooing at the news rather than our normal reactivity and desire to see just how shatter-proof a Samsung flatscreen really is (hopefully more resilient than their phones).
Knowing what’s culturally topical right now, it’s hard not to be leery of the idea of subjecting an innocent baby to the embodiment of any news figure. If you’ve had any exposure to the media or humanity in the past few months, you have borne witness to an interminable, gruesome last stretch of a presidential campaign.
As both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump duke it out for victory on November 8, every morning harvests a fresh batch of disturbing video clips, leaked emails, and side commentary. It’s taken on a level of scariness that makes Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger look like Bert and Ernie.
Even for an adult considering putting on Clinton’s pantsuit or Donald’s Pomeranian combover, I’d say, tread lightly. And tread extremely lightly on people’s front walks while trick-or-treating with your kid, dutifully noting any yard signs. It might just be too loaded to go there.
So what will we see this Halloween? Baby Dylan, with tousled hair and a guitar, in honor of the Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature? A baby Bei Bei, a diminutive version of the National Zoo’s giant panda cub? A Chicago Cubs cub in blue and red with a baseball to teethe on, possibly celebrating a World Series championship?
Who knows. But let’s hope it gives us some refreshing respite from the overall ugliness of the national current news climate. We can always resurrect my first costume, the ballerina. (Not so much my brother’s: a clown. ‘Nuff said.)
And if all else fails, everybody loves a baby ear of sweet corn.
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