When it comes to Halloween haven’t little girls have always gone dressed as princesses or kitty cats? Witches or ghosts, if they’re feeling very edgy?

When it comes to Halloween haven’t little girls have always gone dressed as princesses or kitty cats? Witches or ghosts, if they’re feeling very edgy?


I’m trying to remember.


Little boys, I know, mostly went out dressed as hobos. A boy would just borrow an outsized jacket from some handy male grownup, smear his face with charcoal, grab a pillowcase to stash the goodies in and be out the door.


My big sister and I went out as hobos ourselves a lot, as I recall now, I think because she was far from your typical girl child. In fact, Nan set the tone for my whole childhood with her attraction to the macabre. For one interesting period, she used a dead cat we found in an alley as a departure point for a series of lectures on decomposition and the mortuary arts.


We’d visit that poor Flat Stanley of a thing the way pilgrims will visit a shrine, drawn to it for the thrill of fascinated revulsion. I bet we would have carried it around the neighborhood on our Trick-or-Treating rounds, if we’d been just a little more daring; if we hadn’t by then taken the common childhood pledge to shelter our grownups from life's dark side.


But to get back to costumes, customs have changed: These days’ males of every age are willing to don costumes as elaborate as the girls’.


I expect this year they’ll be going out dressed to the nines, just as they were last year.


They’ll be Transformers or Power Rangers.


They’ll be classically tragic bad guys like Darth Vader, eyeless and wheezing inside his giant black helmet.


Some will even show up a poor old Nixon who for some reason still enjoys strange afterlife in the Rogue's Gallery of your standard costume shop.


And the point will be what it's always been:


To startle.


To counter expectation.


We had a good friend back in the early ‘80s. Didn't smoke. Didn't drink. Took old bikes from the dump, fixed them up good as new and gave them to kids who didn't have bikes. On the Halloween immediately following one madman’s murder of several people by slipping poison into some Tylenol bottles, this friend took his kids around for Trick or Treat, himself dressed as a giant Tylenol capsule. He was actually surprised when another dad offered to punch his lights out.


THAT escapade countered all our expectations.


Of course by partying indoors on Halloween, you can reduce your chance of getting punched and still surprise your friends, as when the dedicated beer guzzler comes dressed as a Mormon elder, or the biggest Don Juan in the group comes decked out as the pope.


I never went in much for the super-girlie look; never wore makeup. But for one Halloween party we threw, I came dressed as Cher, in heavy mascara, a leopard skin body-stocking and a giant wig exploding in cascades of inky curls.


I felt ridiculous. It was great


And my husband, dressed as Cher’s onetime spouse Sonny, looked even better, in a peasant shirt our kids found for him, some baggy bohemian pants and a Prince Valiant wig.


Of course with his wire-rimmed glasses, he looked a more like the early John Denver, and frankly more like Moe of Three Stooges fame than either of those two, but still - he SEEMED to himself as Sonny Bono.


And that's the fun of Halloween: Getting to seem like someone else for the night.


So, go work up a costume if it’s not too late. Go counter some expectations. Maybe just leave the cat corpse in the alley where you found it.


Write to Terry either at terrymarotta@verizon.net or at P.O. Box 270, Winchester, MA 01890. Pictures next weekend and fresh fun every day at her blog Exit Only www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com.