One of the frequent occurrences in my childhood was a tendency to get really, really excited about things… and then to be disappointed when they didn’t meet my expectations.
Halloween was always the epitome of this for me.
For Halloween, I bought into what I saw on television shows, where everyone had brilliant costumes. In my youngest years, I’m sure I wore costumes that I enjoyed (I have vague memories of a cheap — I would have said inexpensive, but I’m pretty sure it was cheap — Superman costume that was a plastic mask on an elastic string and a sort of vinyl cape), but as I got older we had a box of costume pieces we could choose from.
I was a pirate several years, and a clown a couple of times too. One year I remember I had a new rubber mask, but it was kind of disgusting to wear when my breath made the inside of it moist and people asked if I was a Conehead from SNL. (I might have been, for all I know.)
I was never happy with my costume. I never felt that it was realistic enough, or scary enough, or original enough.
One year, when I was a teenager, I bought my own stuff. I bought a terminator-style mask that you could cut to whatever shape you wanted; it came with putty and make-up. The idea was that once you carefully applied the putty and make-up, you would look like a cyborg whose false skin was peeling away to reveal the metal underneath.
It looked nothing like that. It looked stupid. I didn’t have time to change it, and I went to the party looking like that.
Eventually, I gave up on trying for decent costumes and started doing lousy jokes or cheap fixes. The first time I shaved my head was for a Halloween party; I had my goatee, and I pinned a lot of sponges to my outfit, and I was “Mr. Clean’s evil twin, Mr. Dirty.” One year I dressed in a suit, stuffed cotton balls in my cheeks, and put on some sparkly wings — I was the Fairy Godfather. (I offered to grant wishes people couldn’t refuse.) One year I went to a couple of parties with a whiteboard strapped around my neck, so people could draw their own costume on me.
Twice, I went in drag. The first time, I was miserable because of some fake nails that made it impossible to do anything. (I also was disturbed at how much I looked like my younger sister, and how much a drunk guy that I knew kept forgetting who I was and spent the night trying to hit on me.) The second time was a bit more fun, but frankly the wig got hot and by the end of the party I’d just about had it.
I don’t think I’m dressing up at all this year. I don’t have any parties to attend (and I probably wouldn’t have the time to attend one anyway).
Sage, on the other hand… we’re working on it. Our original idea we’re still hoping to do, but we’d like to do a little bit more as well.
At least once, I’d like to really get a fantastic costume — one that will blow people’s minds. I have no idea what, though.
Anyway… in thinking back on costumes, there are two years in particular that I remember.
In one, I remember going with some cousins, and my father and two uncles dressed as Larry, Darryl, and Darryl from “The Bob Newhart Show.” I thought it was brilliant.
In the other, which was some time before I was ten, my dad took an appliance carton from some new purchase we had, and he turned himself into a very boxy robot.
I turned ten in 1987, so this was mid-eighties at the latest. Boxy robots were still pretty awesome. He had dials and knobs drawn onto the box. This was just to walk us around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat; I don’t think he wore it for anything else.
It wasn’t a great costume by typical standards. It wasn’t realistic at all.
But I was walking with the coolest dad in the world. I was a young boy in the 1980’s, and my dad was a freaking robot.
I hope I can remember this sort of thing when Sage starts coming up with costume ideas. I don’t have to do the best. I don’t have to outdo everyone else. But if I can just be there…
It should be better than any costume I could think of anyway.