It’s not even just that my kids are too old to fit into the purple felt Beast costume and wouldn’t wear it even if they were midgets, but I’m old, too, now. And too lazy to go to our storage unit and get the costume bin out and push the giant Mexican hat, dreadlocks wig or other adult-sized costumes on my kids.
Every year, from Nov. 1 until about the end of September, I vow that I’m going to really put some effort into Halloween again. String some orange lights (and not the ones that look red and make us think they’re Christmas lights and somebody has bats in their belfry), dig holes deep enough that the plastic gravestones don’t fall over in a light breeze, and get something really super clever for a costume.
And every year, as my kids get older, I get further and further from putting on a super cool Halloween. Last year we forgot to carve pumpkins.
When I was growing up, I was always a bum. It required $0.00 to be spent. I had my Pappap’s old suit coat with patches sewn on the elbows, something black on the beard area of my face, a fake cigar, a black smooshed down hat and a bandana wrapped around some old crumbled up newspapers and tied onto the end of a long stick that I would pick up from the front yard an hour before trick-or-treat started.
Every dang year when I would think out loud, “Geez-o-man, what should I be for Halloween this year?” my mom would respond by saying, “Why don’t you be a bum again?” Sure, be a bum. It meant no effort on her part, except that she had to dig around the cellar for the bum costume.
Diane K’s mom was a super seamstress and she would always go as a clown or a ballerina or something that allowed her to wear makeup. I was so jealous of her. Together, her glamorous or clownish self and me, the bum, would go trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. In the 1960s you didn’t dare go outside your neighborhood for trick-or-treating. Every three years or so kids from some other neighborhood would come to our street and you could hear Mr. Harder yelling two blocks away, “Where are you kids from? You’re not from this neighborhood are you? I don’t know you! Go back to your own neighborhood! Gwan! Get outta here!”
We would go to a handful of houses, go back to one of our porches and eat all the candy at once. We would throw away the apple or the stack of 10 pennies from the Fuscos. They were old and Italian and didn’t get Halloween in the least. One year Mrs. Fusco answered the door and looked at me as if I were a real bum at her door. She had forgotten it was Halloween! At the time, I couldn’t imagine anything sadder than to lose count of the days leading up to Halloween. What was the matter with old people?
So when my kids were younger I put some effort into their Halloween costumes. Maybe effort that was beyond my limitations. I don’t sew, but I sewed two costumes: One was a bluebird costume for Michael when he was in preschool, which turned out pretty good. The second was a squirrel costume made of real fake fur for Jack when he was 2. It had a big stuffed tail that weighed more than him and was a constant pull on him to fall over backwards. Worse, he was afraid of it. It looked like a large pile of roadkill and I had to set it around the house to get him used to it before putting it on him on Halloween night.
Those were good days. Now my kids won’t dress up, unless you count the year Jack put on flood pants and white socks and sang Michael Jackson songs and moonwalked as he handed out candy. The little princesses and Spidermen were afraid. And he wasn’t even a squirrel.