How to Win Treats and Offend People

“Mommy, I think I want to be Pocahontas for Halloween this year,” said my 5-year-old daughter.

“I don’t think I am comfortable with you being a Native American,” I said.

“Why not?”

I flashed back to my own youthful Halloweens, a time before cultural sensitivity reached west Texas, and shuddered at the litany of my childhood offenses.

“Because it might hurt the feelings of a person who is Native American to see you dressed up like her just for fun.” It was the best I could do for a kindergartener.

This conversation reminded me of the no-holds barred costuming of my childhood, a time when we wandered the streets in vision-obscuring, lead-painted masks and blatantly donned get-ups that crossed the boundaries of good taste.

So, in reminiscence of these good ol’ days, I came up with…

A Partial List of Halloween Costumes from My 1970s Childhood (Along with the Offended Party)*

Indian Princess (Native Americans)

Geisha (Asians)

Bum (Homeless People, Mental Health Advocates)

Cheerleader (Feminists)

Nerd (Nerds)

Devil (Satan Worshippers, Christians)

Punk Rocker (People with Good Taste)

Clown (People Who Hate Clowns)

And an Honorable Mention goes to my husband, for dressing in drag in 1979 and enjoying it way too much for a hetero 9-year-old boy.

* In order from most offensive to least offensive.


3 thoughts on “How to Win Treats and Offend People

  1. In the 7th grade I was a foot. Seriously. I carved it out of carpet foam and my head was the big toenail.
    This year, to celebrate that they still fit, I am dressing as Karrie Karpinski, circa 1993, wearing some nasty bell bottoms, a shirt from a German flea market, and Birkenstocks. With wool socks. Yeah, I rock.

  2. I was a little “dutch girl” 2x’s “hobo” “gypsy” and the “world’s oldest stewardess” or yeh a Cal “cheerleader” oh and first, at two a “bride” and the first and last real wedding dress I ever wore. Of course in college there was the “hooker” and the “baby” – so Pocahnitas? Grace will be the most honorable of all! Now as a middle school teacher for some reason I always dress up as a witch – go figure

  3. Robin –
    Loved your love letter! Go public schools! After teaching in private and having lots of perks – I will never return. I will always stay public.

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