I don’t know why you’re sitting there, looking at me with those sad, pleading eyes. Have you used even ONE of the Halloween costume ideas I’ve given you in the past? Did you go trick-or-treating with a piece of paper showing a footprint, explaining “This is what Nancy drew”? Did you even once take your dictionary door to door with you, commanding the book minded people at each house “Define ‘Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood’!” I am clearly blowing my horn in a wasteland.
(Note to self: rent a trumpet and a copy of The Wasteland for October 31.)
Will you follow my advice on books that have recently been bestsellers? Will you put on that dachshund costume and carry a big fish in your mouth to represent Cameron’s “A Dog’s Porpoise”? If you dress as a basketball player, will you be a member of the Lakers or the Heat to dress as William Young’s “The Shack”? Will you get two or three of your friends together, dress in suits, carry ten percent of a broomstick, and explain that you are “Crazy Witch Agents”? Of course not! So I won’t even mention such things.
I admit that I thought of giving you more retro suggestions, say, the bestsellers of fifty years ago. But I see that for 1968, Arthur Hailey’s “Airport” was number 1 for most of the year. So I knew that just wouldn’t take off. (Thank you, thank you. If I record a really scary book song for Halloween, I’ll remember you for the background groans.)
The bestseller list of twenty-five years ago is no more help. That was the year Robert James Waller’s Bridges of Madison County finally gave up its run at the top of the best seller list…to Robert James Waller’s Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend. I suppose if you go to the Halloween party as a couple, one of you could dress as one book, and one as the other, and confound all expectations when you explain you came dressed as a Waller-Us. (No, forget about the groaning job. We don’t want it to sound TOO pitiful, or you’ll scare all the listeners.)
Maybe your costume could be inspired by one of the collectibles we’ve had come in lately. There actually is a book signed by Arthur C. Clarke. You could dress as a giant monolith, to symbolize the monumental headache you got humming “Also Sprach Zarathustra” all through the year 2001. (In 2001, one of the big bestsellers was John Grisham’s “Skipping Christmas”. So you could wrap lights around yourself and skip from house to house. That one’s free, and easily worth twice the price.)
We are always having opera libretti donated, but we just got a very generous collection of full scores (the libretti have just the words, usually in English and the original, but the score has the music, so you can sing along. These belonged to someone who sang along onstage, so they must be good.) Inspired by that, you could pull out your Brunhilde costume or your Rosenkavalier outfit, and pin big pieces of paper to it saying 17 and 8. If someone asks, you can tell them that’s the….
Oh, you saw that one coming. Why don’t you just dress as a knife, if you’re so sharp?
In the end, you can pull out whatever book you please, and make up a costume to suit yourself (or a suit to costume yourself.) The new Halloween movie gives you an automatic out. If your costume just draws puzzled looks or just generally fails to go over, simply tell your friends, “Well, the sequel will be better.”