Deni Dietz‘s QUIBBLES & BITS
What, you thought I wasn’t going to write about Halloween?
BORN ON HALLOWEEN:
*Dick Francis [jockey/mystery author]
*Kinky Friedman [country rocker, humorist, mystery author and 2006 Texas
*Supertramp’s Bob Selbenberg
*U2’s drummer Larry Mullen Jr.
*Vanilla Ice (Robert Van Winkle)
DIED ON HALLOWEEN:
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],