‘Twas the Night Before Halloween: Costumes, Candy, and Careers


Savvy trend spotters have reported on the increasing number of adults who temporarily shed their grown-up skin come this time of year and replace it with the alternative identity of a Halloween costume. Not me. As a certified oldster, I do not need an excuse to acquire and consume candy corn, chocolate, or popcorn balls if I want to. Living in the country as I do, few if any kids come to my door on October 31, so it simply becomes a matter of Yankee frugality—waste not, want not—to get rid of all those left over Snickers and Milky Ways.

It is not therefore the one-day all-access pass to Candy Land that intrigues me about post-pubescent dress-up; rather, it is the eagerness with which we reach back to our childhoods and try, if for just a few hours, to become that ballerina or astronaut or ax-wielding serial killer we dreamed we’d grow up to be all those years ago.

Inevitably, this sets me to thinking about any manner of the “what-ifs” that characterize my existence. To be fair, I have a pretty good life—meaningful work with for the most part interesting colleagues, a nice house in an exceptionally pretty part of Massachusetts, and a reasonably lively social and intellectual life. But every now and then I yearn for what was, long-ago, my dream job: to be a trophy wife. Just me, my man, and 1.5 acres of closet for my fabulous designer clothes.

At one time I believed that I possessed all of the requisite skills. Certainly I had the basics down—pretty, smart, easily amused and capable in turn of amusing. I was convinced that the fact that I found older men attractive would enhance my sale-ability in this particular job market. And, given my many years of listening to this academic or that opine on hopelessly arcane bits of fact or theory, I had down pat the requisite expression of rapt attention and adoration—you know, the “Nancy Reagan look”—that all trophy wife wannabes must become mistress of before their trip down the aisle.

But for me that trip never happened. It’s not, you understand, that my desired career disappeared from the want ads like “key-punch operator” or “gal Friday” have, or even that my aspirations have changed. But now I am at that uncertain age where the trophy is tarnished, maybe even a little dented and creased. Nothing I am sure some dermabrasion couldn’t burnish and restore, but these days you would definitely find me on either the reconditioned or maybe even the vintage shelf.

So I have made it my All-Hallow’s Eve resolution to re-tool for a new dream job. Maybe a line of work a little more accessible to a fifty-something spinster who lives alone in the forest in a little cottage. Hmm…perhaps some gingerbread here, strategically placed gumdrops there…a drain spout of licorice. If you know anybody named “Hansel” or “Gretel”—send ‘em my way.

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