Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be A Witch

First published in the October 31, 2012 issue of The Oxford Journal by Sara Mattinson.

When I told someone last year we were building onto our house because my mother was moving in with us, she said, “Ohmygawd! I could never live with my mother. She’s such a WITCH.”
For better or for worse, most women grow up to become a replica of their mothers and I have to admit, at a certain time of the year, if someone mentions a witch, it brings to mind my mother.
So this is how a writer’s mind works: I have a column to write that will be published on October 31. I’m not really into this particular event, haven’t worn a costume since high school, don’t have kids that make it necessary to create costumes and eat buy candy but it doesn’t make sense to write on any other subject when the column appears on Halloween. So I conjure up memories of how my mother did Halloween for her two young daughters in the seventies: our homemade costumes and the Halloween table cloth and going trick-or-treating in our neighbourhood in town then piling into the car to visit the relatives in the country (just like many people around here do). We had to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and Grampa and Gramma George, and Aunt Reta, and then the Stinsons on the way back home. That drive to the country was as much Halloween to us as the witch that hung on the wall of our dining room. 
But I didn’t remember the happy old crone, five-feet-tall with her striped stockings and huge warty nose, until I started thinking that maybe I could get away with writing a column that had nothing to do with Halloween. Just then, that woman’s comment from a year ago popped into my head. That’s the magic -- a little witch’s brew, perhaps -- that happens when a writer has to come up with topic (or she tries to avoid one). 
Because that witch hanging on the dining room wall was as fun and good-natured and familiar as my mother, as part of the magic she created for her two girls on Halloween as the old wig from the hair salon next door and her old fox fur coat that we tried to incorporate into one of our costumes every year.
It’s been a long time since I’ve worn a costume and that fur coat is long gone but perhaps this year, I’ll go as a writer. It’s a rather tricky kind of costume, cobbled together like Frankenstein’s monster. You can bring the candy to my office where I’ll be hunched over my computer (the Hunchback of Notre Dame), hacking away at my words (Norman Bates), trying to conjure up memorable phrases (the Sorcerer’s Apprentice), and hoping the readers like them (Sally Field winning an Oscar at the 1985 Academy Awards). 
Now that’s an ugly costume! 
On second thought, it might be easier to be a witch. Just like my mother.


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