When my editor Jen suggested I write about Halloween this week, I cringed. Nothing is duller than an article about the history of a holiday, especially when that holiday possibly originated as a feast to the Roman goddess of fruits and seeds.
When I realized she meant I should talk about my personal Halloween experiences, I remained wary. My second grade Abraham Lincoln costume is the stuff of legends in Fond du Lac, and when I hit it out of the park with my third grade Bucky Badger costume, I got all kinds of cred at recess.
Since entering college, however, Halloween has been pretty underwhelming.
Freshman year I dressed as Dwight Schrute, which was less than successful due to a number of people asking if I was Ron Burgundy or Bill Lumbergh. Sophomore year fared better when some friends from high school invited me to join them in dressing as nuns and going to Madison. Though I gave a very accurate portrayal of everybody’s favorite sister, Whoopi Goldberg, I missed celebrating Halloween at Marquette and found UW-Madison’s blowout State Street party unimpressive.
When I was a junior, I was studying in South Africa and decided to attend a classmate’s birthday party and opt out of my housemates’ costume extravaganza. While I probably had a more culturally enlightening night, I unfortunately missed seeing my roommate Ryan shave down to a mustache, throw on a tank top and short shorts and call himself Steve Prefontaine.
When people began discussing Halloween 2010, I couldn’t help but wonder if I should just go home and get a start on Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations considering Halloween and I seem to be star-crossed lovers.
But I am not a quitter, so I attributed my recent Halloween failures to bad karma for passing out crappy candy to the kids who come to my dorm room door. I got my hands on an assortment of Twix, Starburst and Three Musketeers and began to think about this year’s festivities.
Because of my recently developed ability to grow facial hair, as well as my belief that this is something everyone should know about, I thought it would be best to implement a beard into my costume.
I already went as Lincoln, have far too little hair to go as Tom Hanks from “Cast Away” and feel that dressing as Jesus would be irreverent. This leaves me with one option: The Dude from “The Big Lebowski.”
The idea appeals to me for a myriad of reasons that include a taste for bowling, bathrobes, Creedence Clearwater Revival and White Russians. On a deeper level, The Dude is someone I can learn from. Despite his obvious flaws, which generally involve a complete lack of motivation to make anything substantial of his life, The Dude is loyal to his friends, a fantastic bowler and most importantly, a steady hand that doesn’t sweat the small stuff regardless of life’s ups and downs.
In other words, The Dude is not the kind of guy who would stress about wearing a great Halloween costume or finding the best party. He would simply appreciate whatever he’s doing.
So that is exactly what I’ll do this Halloween: don a bathrobe, listen to Creedence and refuse to let previous Halloween flops get in the way of enjoying this one. Halloween is the one night you can be whoever you want to — a free-spirited dude, a nurse who would never pass a hospital’s dress code or like my roommate Jeff was last year, a Christmas tree.
This great festival of fruits and seeds is a fun way to dress up and act like children again, not something to worry about. And come Halloween night, I won’t be able to worry about anything, because The Dude doesn’t worry.
The Dude abides.