I’m feeling a little wistful this year. The Dude is sixteen and Halloween, as I know it, is a thing of the past. He no longer dons a costume to trick-or-treat. Instead he slouches around the neighborhood with his crew of his homies acting too cool to dress up and ask for candy, while silently wishing he was young enough to dress up and ask for candy.
When I was a kid, my mother used to make the most amazing costumes. She had a way of taking stuff around the house and putting it all together to create awesomeness. Old carpet remnants and electrical tape made one heck of a bee. A dress, an apron, and a ball of red yarn? Raggedy Ann came to life. The woman made magic with old bedsheets and posterboard.
When the Dude was old enough to go trick or treating, I wanted it to be the same for him. He said he wanted to be a tiger. Contrary to my mother’s find-it-at-home wisdom, however, I went to the fabric store and bought orange and black fake fur and a pattern and got behind the sewing machine. When his costume was finished, I could hardly wait to see him in it. So we had him put the suit on… and the Dude screamed. Not a little. A lot.
I CAN’T WEAR THAT!
Not I don’t want to wear it, but I can’t wear it. All attempts to convince him otherwise were futile.
I put him in overalls, made a train out of a cardboard box, and he was a happy dude. The tiger costume took weeks. The train? About 20 minutes. He did make a very cute train, and I made a valiant effort to hide my
About six months later, my husband and I came home from dinner out. As I was paying the babysitter, I asked what they did. She said, “The usual. All he wants to do is put his costume on and run around the house.”
Say what? I asked her which costume she was referring to. I’ll give you one guess. Apparently not only could he wear it, he did. Every time we went out. Once he knew he was busted, he wore that thing until it started disintegrating, leaving chunks of fake fur all over the house. It became a tradition from then on. Every October we’d pick out a pattern and make some outrageously great costume — Anakin Skywalker, Neo, A creepy glow-in-the-dark skeleton. We had so much fun dreaming up what he’d be. Just like the tiger costume, he’d play in them until he’d either destroyed them, or outgrown them.
The remnants are still in a box in our basement. Neither he nor I have the heart to get rid of them. I have very few photos of The Dude in costume, and not one of him as a tiger, but the memory is strong enough to ache a little. Now our Halloween ritual is buying bags of candy corn. My life is much simpler.
I brought up his Halloween costumes on the way to school today. He seemed surprised that Halloween is so close. I guess time goes by when one is no longer counting the days. That, and he totally has Homecoming on the brain. His only costume is a coat and tie. If he had a choice, he wouldn’t wear that either, but I guess one can piss of one’s mother, but a date is a whole different story. All the same, I don’t expect he puts his dress clothes on when his father and I go out. Then again, you never know.
Words and photograph by J. B. Everett