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So what is a newyorksubalien...

I’m a New York subalien. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly legal – it’s just my loving other half, official alien that he is, comes with a so-called “supermodel” visa that apparently denotes him as one possessing extraordinary abilities (falling asleep within 5 minutes of sitting down in front of the TV, remembering only 2 of the 3 items on a mental shopping list and not knowing where the dishwasher tablets live after 2 years in our apartment are just some of his many talents).

The same visa leaves me extraordinarily unable to possess that most American of entities - a “social” i.e. a Social Security Number. Calling it a “social” makes it sound like the password to some party-filled, fun-packed lifestyle. That’s not far wrong as without these all-important 9 numbers, you pretty much can’t have a lifestyle at all - no bank account, no credit card, not even a driver’s license.

So what does a subalien do? Well, like over sub life forms waiting for evolution to give them a leg up on the ladder of existence, I have plenty of time to observe and these, dear reader, are my observations…..

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From store candy to eye candy: getting into the spirit of Halloween!

We saw our first vampire the other night. It was about 1030 pm on a quiet tree-lined street but we quickly decided that he – together with his 40ish vampiress companion – posed little danger, except perhaps to the laws of good taste (if you excuse the pun).

The sighting, chilling as it was (I’ve long decided that 40ish is too old to wear a vampiress outfit) did serve to warn us of the start of the Halloween party season. We had been aware of its imminent arrival thanks to the myriad of “pop-up” costume shops which had sprung up over Planet Big Apple, all of which seem to specialize in variations of “pop-out” outfits for women. Until we arrived here, I had not appreciated that to be a true celebrant, you have to take the  “wee” in Halloween  very seriously, especially when it comes to skirts and bodices!

This poses a dilemma for every parent with a teenage daughter, in fact forget the teenage, just a daughter.  Our first year here Mini-Mum was shocked when she turned up at school on October 31st – it seemed some students like to keep up with certain Halloween traditions ie plenty of displays of flesh rather than blood and gore. Let's just say, for someone dressed up as a wicked witch, she looked positively saintlike.

Costumes are big business, no matter how skimpy they are. In total the US National Retail Federation anticipates Americans will spend $1.2 billion on adult costumes, $1 billion on children’s costumes and $310 million on pet costumes. Just to be clear here, we’re talking costumes FOR the pets. My favourite – the killer whale – doesn’t seem to have caught on as pumpkins and devils are apparently still the top two pet get-ups.

In total, spending on Halloween is expected to reach nearly $7 billion - now that’s a lot of candy. I know because I see it in the shops around me – bags and bags of it. Of course you don’t have to succumb to all this consumerism - I’ve never been so proud of Mini-Mum as when she manufactured wings for her Batgirl outfit from two “dead” umbrellas.  But at the same time you have to let go a little – having sugar-free treats only at the Halloween party at Male Mini-me’s first school was, to me, a little excessive (or should that be "not excessive enough").

Let’s face it – 90% of the sweets the children gather that one night just sit in a bag at the bottom of the wardrobe for the rest of the year. If you’re really into recycling you could just quietly bring them back out again 12 months later and stick them in the calling bowl by the door (only kidding – I know Halloween is all about mean, evil people but I’m not that mean and evil).

If I sound as if I don't get into the "spirit" of things, you couldn't be further from the truth. This is the alien who proudly discovered that she could see the Halloween lights in her Paris apartment from the top of the Eiffel Tower. But I have to admit this year, I reached a kind of a watershed. Now that both Alienettes are in the dizzy heights of Middle and Upper School, I wondered whether they would think it silly to have decorations gathered lovingly from three different planets sprinkled all over the apartment. In other words, I worried they had been weaned off Halloween.

The nudge I needed came from the most surprising source - old Killjoy himself, Superalien. He pointed out that just because the Alienettes didn't say anything, it didn't mean they wouldn't be disappointed if I didn't go to my usual lengths of getting the right planetary atmospheric mood.

Mind you, he also pointed out our local pop-up costume shop. Any messages there???
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