My friend is studying to be a psychologist, which means that she thinks she can analyze everyone. All the time. Over breakfast, I was discussing a dream I'd had about a plane crashing.
"Mmmhmm, mmmhmm," she said, chewing her omelet while arranging her face into what she imagines to be her "contemplative yet understanding" look.
"So tell me about your mother."
"My mother?" I repeated. "What does a plane crash have to do with my mother?"
"I see," she said slowly. "Someone's in denial. Very interesting ..."
And, while most of the time I want to hit her on the head with her Freudian interpretation of dreams book, sometimes she makes valid points (not that I would ever tell her this). Halloween is, according to Carey, a time when we dress up as a representation of the person that we want to be.
(Note: I told my dad this, to which he responded, "My parents dressed me and my brother as skeletons every year till we couldn't fit into the costumes. Does that mean they wanted us dead?")
This statement has caused me to think back through the ages in an attempt to psychoanalyze myself. Perhaps if I figured out why exactly I had dressed as a flapper in second grade, I could figure out the cause of my, shall we say, unique way of viewing the world today.
My first memorable costume was an M&M, made of blue foam and big white gloves. M&M's were my first love, a symbol of perfection in my mind. They were colorful. They were chocolaty. They even melted in your mouth, not in your hand. Did I want to BE an M&M when I grew up? Well, kind of.
The commercials with the live-action green and yellow characters were confusing, but eventually I figured out the laws of the universe would prevent me from ever taking my place in the rainbow, happy, candy-coated world.
It suffices now to eat M&M's and reminisce about the days when I was a part of their simple utopia, if only for one night.
When I was 9, I was a soccer player. This was during my try-every-sport-once phase, and soccer had eclipsed roller-skating as what all the really, really cool kids were doing. Unfortunately, I couldn't really run and I didn't like getting dirty. During my first game, I had a ball kicked into my stomach, followed promptly by a ball getting kicked into my face. After that, I limited my participation to sitting on the sideline, enjoying the team's trail mix and Sunny Delight. And, of course, I fulfilled my Mia Farrow fantasies by wearing my lovely (and still pristine -- bench warming is great for preventing grass stains) uniform on Halloween.
When I was 15, I was a cat, mostly because I forgot about Halloween until the day of, on which I raided my little sister's costume trunk for a tattered old pair of furry ears. The headband hurt my scalp, though, so I carried it around in my purse, resulting in a lot of curious glances and "What exactly are you?" questions. I'd sigh, fish around in my bag and pull out my ears.
"I'm a cat," I'd say. "I'm wearing all black, see? I'm a cat cuz I say I'm a freaking cat."
I'm not sure what this says about the future me, except maybe a propensity for procrastination and an overly monochromatic closet.
This year, I'm went out dressed as a fairy. Carey says it's because I miss my childlike, whimsical self and that I'm rebelling against the expectations of a career and adulthood that I'm currently facing. I say it's because I like pink and I wanted to wear a fluffy tulle skirt. Carey dressed up as Freud (albeit a sexy one, given the laws of Halloween that state that after adolescence, female costumes must not cover more than a small bikini).
You don't have to be a psychoanalyst to figure that one out.
Liz Moody, a 2004 graduate of Johansen High School, is a student at the University of California at Berkeley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.