There are, of course and unfortunately, many serious and tragic consequences of the pandemic and resulting quarantine: not only death and illness and grief, but also mental health concerns, social isolation, and economic impacts for so many families.
There are also the more frivolous consequences, the kind that people joke about on social media: the increased use of Zoom, the decreased use of pants, new recipes for sourdough starters and banana bread.
And then there is perhaps the most frivolous consequence of all, which is that my dog, Milo, now owns a triceratops costume.
I have no better explanation for this than that I was bored and lonely and thought that this ridiculous, brightly colored headpiece for my dog might cheer me up for a bit, and at $14, it was a gamble I was willing to take.
Honestly, it mostly worked. I Velcroed it under his fluffy chin, and the girls and I laughed until we couldn’t breathe as we watched him gambol around the living room, shaking his head and pawing at the place where I’d fastened the costume in a vain attempt to detach it.
The worst part was having to justify this purchase to my husband, who does not understand the joy inherent in dog costumes.
The best part was a few days later, when I asked Georgia what she wanted to be for Halloween, and she thought for a second before saying, “Well, Milo and I have to match, obviously, so I guess I’ll be another dinosaur or maybe a dino hunter. Or a what-do-you-call-it, a paleo-thingy.”
Last year, our first Halloween since getting a dog, I did decide to dress Milo up as Pugsley Addams, but only after Georgia picked out her Wednesday Addams costume. I certainly never insisted that she had to match Milo forevermore. All the same, I’m delighted that she has internalized this rule to the point that obviously if Milo is a triceratops, she must be a “paleo-thingy.”
Everything this year feels uncertain and terrible. Trick-or-treating, one of our favorite family activities, suddenly feels fraught with danger and vaguely disgusting – I haven’t set foot in anyone’s house but mine in seven months, so going around knocking on doors and begging for treats dropped into a plastic bucket by hands of questionable sanitation seems absurd. The classroom parties I used to coordinate, with activities like bobbing in a communal tub of apples (ewwww!) or wrapping other kids up in toilet paper (way too close and way too wasteful of such a precious commodity), now seem like relics of a long ago time. Parties themselves, regardless of the activities, are definitely from the Before Times.
So yeah, there will not be class Halloween parties for my younger daughter this year. My older daughter won’t be going to a “Halloween hop” or any other type of school dance. I won’t be participating in an office-wide pumpkin-carving contest or sneaking off to a midnight showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” And even if we do go trick-or-treating, our resulting candy haul will be quarantined for several days before I let the kids eat it.
The only thing that might be OK, or at least slightly salvageable, this year is costumes. You can wear surgical masks under latex monster masks, right? And you can find joy in something stupid, like a $14 triceratops costume for your dog and a matching paleontologist costume for your 8-year-old daughter.
These days, you need to seize your joy wherever you can find it, whether it’s a Fun-Size Almond Joy or a dog headdress that makes him look like a dinosaur and that he immediately tries to eat.
Happy pandemic Halloween, to you and yours.
*This blog originally published in the October 2020 issue of New Orleans Magazine.