important update: halloween was last night

Every year I find myself in the same situation, which is to say, the one in which I've thought of a bunch of great costume ideas in July, neglected to write any of them down, and found myself completely uncostumed at the end of October. Despite the build-up of candy in the stores, the online articles about scary movies, the steady creep of black-and-orange horror show paraphernalia, Halloween surprises me with its suddenness every year. It's as if I fall asleep on October 30th and wake in the midst of a queasy alternate universe where everyone is obliged to dress in archetypes. It's like the subconscious has risen and devoured consciousness, and for some reason my brain has been tasted and left on the plate with the napkins.

We don't do any preparations for Halloween at our apartment, which may have something to do with it. Schmutzie and I are not seasonal decorators (thus the fact that we have never had a Christmas tree, making do instead with an iron sculpture wrapped in fake foliage, LED lights and topped with a cowboy hat), and no children come to our door for candy, so we never buy any.

But it's great fun to go out for a drink after work and witness the ingenuity and/or desperation on display. By far the most common costume of choice was pirate. I found it interesting that both men and women dressed in pirate gear, which makes Kiera Knightley an unlikely pathbreaker. Even among the unpirated a kind of eighteenth century aesthetic prevailed, with piled-up wigs, frilly shirts and billowy dresses everywhere. A couple of my friends had taken aim at 1930s and 40s era sex symbols, with great success. A couple of Hunter S. Thompsons roamed the crowd, one with a Dr. Gonzo attendant. My friend Steve showed up as J. Michael Hall's Dexter, with the green river driver shirt, latex gloves and expensive looking blood splatter on his face. A Silent Bob and Jay kept walking in and out of the bar, astonishingly recognizable. There were no Sarah Palins or any other politicians, which shows how immune we Canadians can be to the political agonies across the border.

Most of the women fit into the 'slutty n' category of dress-up (slutty pirate, slutty construction worker, slutty vampire, slutty fairy, slutty devil, slutty accountant, slutty comptroller, you name it), but what amazed me were the astonishing number of wings on women's backs. Fairy wings, bee wings, angel and devil wings, miscellaneous wings: everything except deep-fried chicken wings, I would guess. Wings were the psychoplasmatic feminine expression of the night. Aside from that it was all tits and teeth and cheap greasepaint.

I had no costume, but at some point I drank enough to put on a Viking helmet.

My friend Shanan took a picture of us together, but I had clearly hit the point of no return, and most of my energy was spent trying to hold my face together. Fortunately Shanan (the poreless face on the left) had enough smile for both of us. She also had the presence of mind to actually look at the camera.

And here's one more, also taken by Shanan, also of me, because, even though I had the least elaborate costume there (somebody else's hat), I think I look surprisingly good with Viking horns. I call this photo "Towards the Viking future".