Arts & Culture » Juice

Halloween: Season of the bitch



It's never too early to start thinking about Halloween. As holidays go, Halloween is a rich, surprising Janeane Garofalo in a sea of bland, tedious Meg Ryans. I used to think that Halloween was the one day of the year people got to pretend to be something they aren't, so it was like every other day, but with bite-sized Snickers. But considering the facade of family togetherness required for other holidays, Halloween may be the only holiday when people aren't really faking anything.

If you are looking for something to be for Halloween, check out the latest issue of Time magazine, which contains an illustration of Linda Tripp looking like something Sigourney Weaver would spend a whole movie trying to kill. The Time text is so slanted against Tripp you need a grappling hook to read it, and in the illustration she appears as a cold, bilious monster whose true nature can't be determined, except that it could eat you alive.

Which brings us back to Halloween. I've watched a lot of seasonal scare flicks already, but only a few of them really make you lie awake at night wondering if that creeping terror on the screen is out there in real life. Of all these movies, the worst is "Snow White."

Scare tactic

It isn't the saccharine sweetness of the Kewpie title character that's evil; it's weird, but it isn't evil. It's the witch that gets me. I can watch people with prosthetic faces pop their mugs off to reveal the insides of their own skulls on Fox, but that old hag gives me the willies. If you recall, she first wanted the little girl's heart brought to her in a box. When that failed, she wanted the child buried alive.

You can imagine what a dork I feel like confessing that a cartoon crone is more frightening to me than Jason. It isn't just that she's a gnarly old hag whose appearance would scare Pinhead back to hell. It isn't even that she's out to kill her own stepchild, something likely to leave a scorch mark on the brain of anyone seeing it for the first time as a kid. What's scary about this woman is her deception. She literally puts on a false face and seduces the child with her frailty and empathy and once she gains the innocent's trust, destroys her. It's like watching Jamie Lee Curtis walk down a dark staircase into the basement. You know in real life there is no Freddy Krueger waiting in your dreams to get you, but you don't know that you won't put your trust in someone and end up destroyed.

Which brings us back to Linda Tripp. Of all the people involved in America's all-time greatest soap opera, Linda always comes off as the most villainous. And of all people it was Marilu Henner who summed up why on "Politically Incorrect" when she noted that Tripp "violated the rule of girl talk." It was a declaration that needed no further explaining. But since I'm one of those girls who likes to talk, I'm going to explain it anyway.

Line dance

Most women study behavior. They analyze, hypothesize, wonder what this look meant, if that statement carried more weight than it seemed to, what did he mean by that, what is her tone of voice implying, am I doing everything right? They say the ability to read between the lines is a talent inherent in our dos equis chromosomes, something women have to do to discern the needs of speechless infants. Whatever it is, all these speculations expand in our minds like Jiffy Pop until the steam threatens to blow our heads clean off. We've got to download it to a compatible system or ours gets overloaded. That's why girl talk is so important, a sanctuary, a bright-pink confessional where we can disgorge, no matter how tender or stupid or unpleasant. Girl talk is as important as sleep. You have to give someone your secrets so you can get a rest from them and don't feel all alone in this mess. The contract between friends is a marriage; you expect their faithfulness without needing a lawyer to ensure it.

And like married people we sometimes slide, let slip a confidence or two, even screw up on occasion. But the thought of someone luring you to expose yourself at the deepest levels, cajoling you into removing another layer that you're so relieved to unload, of swearing that if you take a bite of this shiny, red apple all your dreams will come true only so they can bury you alive, is the unthinkable work of an sly, emotional Leatherface, only more dishonest. At least you could see who Leatherface was.

And that's why Linda Tripp is just like the witch. Eerie parallels, aren't they? A scheming, self-serving mother figure luring, cajoling and inevitably gaining the trust of a girl with "lips red as the rose, hair black as ebony, skin white as snow." Think about that when you're deciding whom to trust. If someone willfully destroys their best friends, what chance do you stand?

Draw what conclusions you will. Mine is that the wicked queen would have registered Republican. Happy Halloween.


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