Natalie Shapero

Halloween at 21

Which age was it, when every costume party
became a pageant? That, or super-arty,
with couples dressing as some king and queen
of a onetime swingin’ literary scene.
(I asked one host who he’d come as. “F. Scott,”
he said. I said, “Fitzgerald?” and was not
invited back next year.) Which age was it,
when night apparel got more “intimate,”
when door-to-door gave way to bed-to-bed,
when everybody chose the “treat” instead?
I miss the terror of reclusive pervs,
the PTA flyer: “Local Psycho Serves
Raid Brownies,” den moms playing Paul Revere,
before razorblades in apples turned to fear
of GHB in appletinis. It’s half
past twelve. The party’s hopping. Not a Plath,
an Austen or a Woolf in sight here, thank
the Lord. No, all the gals are Sexy Blank:
a cat, a nurse, a ranch hand of some sort,
the librarian who “helps with your report,”
the standard-issue slutty witch. And me,
sober and gawky in my fleur-de-lis
apron and 12-inch extra-poofy chef
hat, tiny cardboard box for UNICEF
donations. Old friends tap my shoulder, stare:
“I almost didn’t recognize you there.”