#80: Flip of a Coin

October 31st, 2012

I looked the smiling man in the eye.

“Hold on. Let me check,” I said, flicking a 50-cent piece in the air.

The coin spun for a just a moment before landing in my hand. It was tails, so I sold my soul to the devil.

A zombie who had earlier been talking about his church group winced a bit as I took the contract from the devil’s hands. The devil’s girlfriend just looked bored and fussed with her angel wings a little. She would eventually take them off, saying they itched. The villain from “Jem and the Holograms” laughed and covered her mouth.

After I carefully signed “Harvey Dent” with my left hand (the bad side) and took my beer back from Catwoman, the devil and I reviewed our deal.

If I decoded the devil’s faux legalese correctly, I could get out of it at any time by ripping up the paper. Also, if a deity or deities wanted my soul, they would get it straight up.

It was either designed not to offend beliefs or else the guy was worried about accidentally ending up with the souls of a bunch of drunk folks from a Halloween party in Albany Park.

Today is Halloween, or really Child Halloween. Today, candy-soaked kiddos run from house to house or designated boring safe spot to designated boring safe spot yelling “Trick or Treat!” in costumes slathered in reflective tape.

The Saturday before Halloween, however, is Grown-Up Halloween. On that day, the adults hit the bars and parties for “treats” that are a little more alcoholic and “tricks” that are I probably shouldn’t finish this sentence.

On Grown-Up Halloween, the tawdry and offensive costumes come out, the “Sexy _____” for women and the “Recently Deceased Real-Life Celebrity _____” for men. Others are whatever was cheap, semi-comfortable and available as a kit at one of those pop-up Halloween shops.

Other revelers raid the wardrobe. A vaguely 60′s-ish dress gets passed off as Joan from “Mad Men.” A Bears fan puts all the gear on at once to become a “Da Bears” Superfan. A guy is Indiana Jones because he already has the hat.

But then there are the costumes that make me wonder. The reasoned, the fully fleshed out, the odd. Too intricate to have been thrown together. Too obscure and confusing to be random.

Why that costume? Why so much work? Are you trying to say something here?

Was the churchgoing zombie secretly worried about conformity?

Was the villain from “Jem and the Holograms” trying to hold on to a receding youth?

And what of me? What does it say that I dressed as Batman villain Two-Face, a creature of such indecisiveness he lives by pure caprice, ruled by whims no more meaningful or thought-out than the flip of a coin?

After the party, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and a “Plants vs. Zombies” plant and I hopped a cab to a show. When we spilled onto the trendy Wicker Park/Bucktown six corners at closing time, we were surrounded by dozens of costumes, dozens of fantasies, dozens of people saying “I want to be this for a night.”

Is there something unspoken and primal about members of a culture taking a night to become things we’re not? Or is it just slutty costumes, specials on pumpkin ale and me thinking about this way too late at night?

Is there something meaningful about Grown-Up Halloween? I honestly can’t decide.

Heads, yes. Tails, no.

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