Jean Barker

What scares America?

2011-10-21 07:35
Jean Barker is getting into the Halloween spirit.

Jean Barker is getting into the Halloween spirit.

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Halloween (October 31st) is what people here in the USA call a "holiday". Ja, right...

By “holiday”, they mean they go to work as normal, and then spend a whole bunch of their hard earned $$$ buying stuff made out of plastic that comes from China in order to celebrate. This is America. You rest when you're dead.

I never thought you'd catch me saying this, but Halloween is growing on me.

For a few weeks, the sweet little streets of Orange are transformed into America's idea of hell - a world where pumpkins and spiders peacefully co-exist behind white picket fences in the dark of front yards, alongside the stars and stripes of the flags that fly year round.

Americans spend a fortune on decorations. Temporary stores dedicated to Halloween mushroom in September, only to vanish on November 1st or convert operations to sell Christmas decorations (followed by New Year's gear).

Walmart and Target both devote entire isles to freaky orange and black junk and last-minute kids' costumes. Trader Joe's opts for the more wholesome “Harvest Festival” thing - you have to wade through pumpkins to get in the door - but they still sell special monster cookies. Restaurants lovingly decorated with spiders and bats and other gross stuff prove that nothing, not even death, will ever separate a red-blooded American from their hamburger.

I've fallen for it all. And that's partly why I found myself at a yard sale the other week. Americans are so capitalist that they can't just give their junk away to charity. They have to sell it. On any given Saturday in SoCal, you can walk from one to the other picking up anything from used bedpans to brand new appliances someone bought on TV when they were drunk. It's sort of social. People seem to want to give you a potted history of every item before parting with it for a dollar or two. Sometimes this is fun. Sometimes it's gross.

Last Saturday, I came home with a skateboard, a sexy Border Patrol uniform, and a wheelchair.

Sorted for my big dress up party opportunity? You'd think so. But I've learned I need to be careful. Last year, I went as broccoli. Nobody really seemed to understand why broccoli was scary. And this year holds its own complications.

Like this whole Border Patrol thing? In Southern California? Might be even less acceptable than some of my other rejected costume ideas, which included Osama Bin Laden (too soon), Vagina Dentata (requires nudity and possible violence) and A Vegan (too cerebral for drunken student jols).

Now I know I'm probably overcomplicating this. I should just buy a sexy milkmaid costume or something. The problem is: How is a sexy milkmaid scary? A Halloween costume should be scary! If it gets you laid as well, bonus.

So as things stand - in honour of the global financial crisis and in support of Occupy Wall Street - I'm going as a skateboarding Michele Bachmann with vampire teeth and a hole in my head where brains should be.

And after I either get beaten up by a bunch of square-jawed, corn-fed patriots for mocking their Tea Party Republican-haired media monster, or fall and injure myself while skateboarding downhill in an attempt to escape them, I'll already, conveniently, be the proud owner of a slightly squeaky but perfectly serviceable wheelchair.

It's a win-win, if you think about it.

- Jean is a screenwriting/directing dual MFA student in California, USA. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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