Deni Dietz‘s QUIBBLES & BITS


What, you thought I wasn’t going to write about Halloween?

*Dale Evans
*Dick Francis [jockey/mystery author]
*Dan Rather
*Michael Landon
*Kinky Friedman [country rocker, humorist, mystery author and 2006 Texas
gubernatorial candidate]
*Supertramp’s Bob Selbenberg
*Jane Pauley
*Val Kilmer
*U2’s drummer Larry Mullen Jr.
*Vanilla Ice (Robert Van Winkle)

*Harry Houdini
*Indira Ghandi
*Federico Fellini
*River Phoenix


My father, who lived on a farm in West Virginia, liked to reminisce about Halloween – about how he and his friends would topple outhouses.

Nowadays, kids decorate trees with toilet paper.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

When I was a child, Moms who sewed would make elaborate costumes: fairy tale characters, ghosts, goblins and witches. Moms who couldn’t sew—like mine, for example—were more inventive. I often dressed in my father’s clothes, with a pillow taking up the slack. That probably had some influence on my writing from a man’s POV.

And since Halloween always seemed to hit around the time we took orders for Girl Scout Cookies, I’d knock on doors, accept my candy with a polite "thank you," and then sell the occupants boxes of GS cookies. Even then, I was into marketing and promotion.

During my first marriage, my ex and I attended a Halloween party. He wasn’t into costumes [probably one of the reasons I divorced him]. The people who threw the party instructed everyone to come dressed as an inanimate object. I wore black tights and a black leotard and black spiked heels (I hadn’t quite destroyed my feet yet). At my breasts and between my thighs I fastened fish hooks and colorful fishing lures, plus those nifty rubber spiders found on every drugstore counter.

I came dressed as Pandora’s Box.

I used that for CHAIN A LAMB CHOP TO THE BED. Lt. Peter Miller’s sister Beth attends a Halloween party as Pandora’s Box. There, she meets her husband Jonah, who is wearing briefs.

     Halfway through the party she discovered that he was a lawyer—briefs, ha-ha—and he wore underpants because he’d lost a bet and there was a prize for the best costume. Which, she assumed, he’d win. She had come as Pandora’s box, clothed in black tights and leotard, with fish hooks, rubber worms and colorful lures pinned to her breasts and crotch. She won first prize…and the lawyer.

One year while I was waiting tables, management decreed that costumes were compulsory. I donned black tights and a black leotard and…no, I didn’t come as Pandora’s Box. Instead, I safety-pinned printed pages from one of my manuscripts to the material; dozens of printed pages, all over my body, from head to toe. The idea was to come dressed as a book.

The night was cold, windy and rainy (later the rain would turn to sleet). My car broke down a mile and a half from the restaurant. I managed to park at the side of the road and began to walk. No one stopped to pick up a wet, black-clad person dressed as a book. Go figure. When I finally arrived for my shift, and people asked me what I was, I said, "I’m a book that’s been left out in the rain."

I haven’t used that experience (yet!) for a scene in one of my mysteries.

My first mystery – THROW DARTS AT A CHEESECAKE – climaxes with a Weight Winners Halloween party. The church room where the diet club members meet is decorated for the event and all the food is "legal." The perp attends in costume, and writing that was lots of fun. What costume, I wondered, should I dress my killer in?

So…what’s your favorite Halloween costume? One you wore as a kid or an adult. Come on, don’t be shy. It can’t possibly be worse than a book that’s been left out in the rain.

As you wish [and BOO],

12 thoughts on “BOO

  1. Jody

    My favorite is the one I wore last year to work. I came as a Blooming Idiot. I wore green, had plastic ivy wound around me & my arms, a crown of flowers, & with plastic flowers pinned all over my green pants & top.

  2. Naomi

    Kareem Abdul Jabaar. I wore a plastic skull cap, swimming goggles, a purple T-shirt with his number (masking tape), and Converse high-tops. And, of course, I carried a basketball.

  3. Deni Dietz

    Oooh, I love the Blooming Idiot. And Jabaar 🙂

    Both take IMAGINATION.

    If I costumed myself today [tonight], I’d dress up as Oliver, and when people opened their doors I’d sing “Where is Love.”

  4. Eric Mayer

    You’re lucky there wasn’t a spooky house with a light burning in the window between your broken down car and the restaurant!

    My favroite costume was the alien with the long purple tail, sewn by my mother and the round papier mache head made by my dad. I also went Halloweening as a beatnick once which shows how old I am.

  5. pari noskin taichert

    Hey, Deni,Halloween trivia . . .I love it.

    Favorite Costume? When I was in grad school, I went to a party and a man was covered entirely in tin foil–some of which had been painted red. He was a flaming hemmoriod.

    I’ve got bags of candy awaiting children. My own kids are going as King William the Conquerour (don’t ask) and, get this, Queen Victoria as a young girl. At least we didn’t have to buy stupid costumes this year. But, I’m kind of amazed at how esoteric my children are. I can’t imagine where they get it from . . .

  6. Jeff Cohen

    When I was younger and used to work for a living (and hadn’t grown a beard yet), I was regularly invited to Halloween parties by co-workers. I would wear an old raincoat, a battered hat and a checkered shirt that didn’t match anything else I had on. Carried a taxi horn, and I was Harpo Marx. This was a problem, since I wouldn’t be able to talk all evening, which as anyone who knows me will understand was a major difficulty for me.

  7. Deni Dietz

    Eric, do you now knock on doors dressed as your sleuth, John the Eunuch [chief councilor to the Emperor in first century Constantinople]? That would be tres cool.

  8. Deni Dietz

    Oh no, Pari. You don’t get off that easily. I darn well will ask. Why is one of your daughters dressing up as King William?

    Queen Victoria as a young girl? LOVE IT!

    Your kids are welcome at my house anytime. Forget esoteric. We’d have an INTELLIGENT conversation.

  9. Deni Dietz

    LOL, Jeff. I can just see you as Harpo, beeping your horn. But how long did not speaking last? Hey, let’s have a poll. I say…13 minutes, max.

    Boo [which always reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird],Deni, looking for her video of “Houdini.” Not even close to historically accurate, but, oh!, that Tony Curtis. Whom, btw, Jeff somewhat resembles.

  10. Jeff Cohen

    Aside from the fact that his real name is Bernie Schwartz, I resemble Tony Curtis just slightly more than his SOME LIKE IT HOT co-star Marilyn Monroe. But thanks for the thought, Deni.


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