A tradition to 'dye' for

A Sidelong glance - October 2006


Kristin Gehring

I'm waiting for the hair dye to set. What a mess. I've got one vermilion ear, smudges on my cheek and neck and there's a raggedy blob on the bathroom wall. I must stop dying my hair such brilliant colors, or at least stop doing it in such a hurry. But I've been considering the connection between Halloween and romance, and it's making me twitchy.

If those darn children would just stop growing up, it wouldn't have come to this. If the approach of Halloween ignited the family fire of anticipation and creative frenzy-of glue and felt and pieces of cardboard flying about the house-I wouldn't be left to my own dangerous devices. But creative energy unspent becomes a destructive force, my friends.

Usually, what happens to me when my imagination can't find an outlet is that I dye my hair an improbable color or get another tattoo. In the past, I have found both these pursuits to be worthy antidotes to the buildup of tension. But this Halloween season is the worst yet; my children are showing zero interest in costumes. So this has resulted, naturally, in my getting a crush on a really cute guy in a television drama, which provides me with many a breathless moment of delightful daydreaming but gives my daughters the creeps.

Before they got all self-conscious, my children vowed Halloween was their favorite holiday. I'd give them a deadline for brainstorming about what they most wanted to be, then I'd turn them into super heroes, angels, witches-even, God help us, hippies. Now they wait until the very last minute, see what their friends are doing and don't let me help.

All is not completely lost. My 16-year-old son did create a truly wonderful character last year-a cross between the tooth fairy and Pee Wee Herman. My 14-year-old painted her face entirely red, although the exact identity of her costume escapes me now. I know our 12-year-old must have done something, because all three of them went out for the Super Candy Collection Marathon, as usual. I just can't remember. I wasn't consulted.

So here's what I'm wondering, as I apply Comet cleanser to the bathroom wall and my face, in an effort to remove Luscious Raspberry stains: If energetically expressing oneself through the creation of Halloween costumes equals release of romantic tension (i.e., not hatching an infatuation with a TV character), then decreased interest in dressing up for Halloween (my ungrateful children these days) equals increased buildup of romantic energy (actually, let's just stop this syllogism right here).

Well, I just checked, and it seems my hair is still in the process of transformation from a color found in nature to a color not. I have made a decision: This Halloween, I'm going to concentrate on the dog. I shall transform Norman into Superman. I'm going to attach a red felt "S" to his chest with bobby pins and make him a little blue cape. He's small, so I can "fly" him from house to house to trick-or-treat. I've talked it over with him, and he is very, very interested.

Kristin Gehring is the calendar editor for Wednesday Journal, the parent company of Chicago Parent, and is the mother of three kids.


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