HALLOWEEN PART 1:
It is Halloween, and I am not dressing up or going to a party. This is par for the course of my adult life. However, I do remember when Halloween was one of the highlights of my year. During my early Halloween days, my little brother and I would make a trip up and down our street with a parent trick-or-treating. Later years were spent walking around all night with friends–targeting the neighborhoods that were most likely to give away king-sized candy–until our giant pillow cases required that they be carried from the bottom, like a bag of groceries, rather than by the open end, twisted at the top. At the end of the evening, we would spill all the candy out on the floor and organize them by type; inevitably we would boast about our loot, “I got twenty-seven Snickers!”
For me though, the most memorable parts of Halloween were my costumes; I think my dad really looked forward to the challenge of fabricating them each year. And, let me tell you, he came up with some great stuff. Alas, while each one of his hand-made costumes were truly works of art, nearly all of them contained a major functional design flaw. Allow me to share the top three artistically brilliant, yet functionally flawed costumes designed by my father:
3. A touch-tone telephone–As an architect, my father had access to an endless amount of foam-core board. I honestly do not know what inspired him to create this costume (it could have been me, mindlessly searching the house suggesting anything in my sight), but I ended up being a giant old-school touch-tone telephone. This phone looked awesome, and everyone loved it. Countless kids came up to me (and a few adults as well) and said, “I need to call home,” then proceeded to dial their home phone number on the giant key pad. Alas, the phone was too heavy, and it was really only held up by the foam-core top to the phone base, which rested upon my shoulders with no added support or reinforcement. Half way through my night, both shoulders busted through the costume. I spent a quarter of the evening carrying the costume around, and the other quarter of the evening just carrying around a bag, explaining to adults standing in doorways, while giving me suspicious looks, that my costume broke, and I was a telephone.
2. A robot–This was actually the alpha of my dad’s foam-core masterpieces. The box body and head were spray painted silver, and I had colorful buttons on my
chest (kids also liked pressing those buttons as well). The decision to use foam-core, in this case, was not a problem. Yes, it was a bit hot in this costume. Yes, having a square for a head placed upon a square body did not allow me to see the ground beneath me, I really only had about seventy degrees of horizontal visibility because the head did not turn, and the rectangle cut-out for my eyes was small, thus I crashed into a lot of stuff. Yet, these were not the most glaring design flaws. No, the biggest flaw came in the choice of materials for the arms and legs–flexible dryer vent piping. This piping was stiff and a bit tight; it chafed on the back of my legs, and dug into my wrists. The piping was even more devastating to my arm mobility. I could not hold my candy bag open, for my hands could not come within twelve inches of one another. In fact, I could not even raise my bag in the direction of the person distributing the candy. The grown-ups handing out the goods actually had to take the bag from me, put candy in, and place it back in my hand.
1. A Hershey’s Kiss–Not just a big Hershey’s Kiss, but a gargantuan Hershey’s Kiss. If memory serves me correctly, a hoola-hoop served as the base of the kiss, which bottomed out somewhere around my mid-thigh or knee. Moms loved this one for some reason. So many mothers told me how cute my costume was. Not only was it mother-approved, it was fairly sturdy. One would think that the delicate foil would be the design flaw in this costume. Not true. The costume stayed enact due to some interesting strapping mechanisms.
Yes, I was concerned with my giant candy bag damaging the foil, so I had to hold my bag with outstretched arms at all times, but this was a small issue. The design flaw here: dimensions. The costume was wide. So wide, in fact, that I could not fit through most thresholds.
Picture this, three kids come to your door exclaiming, “trick-or-treat!” You dig into your bowl and begin putting some Kit-Kats in their bags–one bag, two bag, three bag… four? “Why do you have you have two bags, Spiderman?”
“Oh, this bag is for my friend. He couldn’t fit through your gate. He’s the Hershey’s Kiss over there,” Spiderman explains, pointing at a giant shiny flat-bottomed teardrop waving stiffly by the street.
Yea, I was that kid.
Despite the design flaws, I was, and continue to be quite grateful to have a father who, a) never once made me feel like Halloween was a burden, and b) actually cared enough to make me Halloween costumes.
My mom, bless her heart, definitely leaned more towards the Halloween-is-a-chore side of the spectrum, but she did have fun with it. I remember one year my dad was unable to assist in our costume construction. So I think I chose to wear a ridiculous mask that was lying around (I believe my mom used it to greet trick-or-treaters the year before). My brother had nothing. So what did my mom do? She grabbed the most hideous sheet in our closet (a tacky floral print, I believe), cut out some eye holes, and tossed it on my brother. Well, that wasn’t going to work as it was. How was he to keep his eyes lined up with the openings? Answer: a velcro pink bow tie to synch the sheet around my brother’s neck. After adjusting the bow tie she took a step back to appreciate her handy-work. My mom immediately burst into a fit of hysterical laugher. She was literally doubled over, and barely able to catch her breath in between taking pictures of my brother and me. Even though I was young, I understood the punchline. My mom knew it was a half-assed unintentionally hilarious costume, I knew it was a half-assed unintentionally hilarious costume, and my poor brother was just standing there, clueless, with a hideous sheet draped over his person, and a pink bowtie nearly choking him where he stood. He was the dapper floral-printed gost of Windsor Avenue.
In all seriousness though, I am thankful for both of my parents, and their efforts to facilitate possitive Halloween experiences for my brother and me. I know I always had a good time, and I only hope that our Halloweens brought them half as much joy as it seemed.