Halloween is creeping up on us. With my daughters grown, you would think my costume-making days were behind me. But, no, I have to think up costumes for an annual neighborhood party, and then I have to convince my reticent husband, Si, to actually wear one. If his costume could be blue jeans and a button down cotton plaid shirt, I can guarantee that he would follow me anywhere. But if I want to talk him into anything other than his daily “go to” uniform, it’s time for an action plan.
Last year we went to the party as crabbers from the TV show, Deadliest Catch. How did we do this, you wonder? I dusted off yellow, foul-weather overalls and slickers from our sailing days, bought T-shirts printed with “Captain” and “First Mate” from West Marine (…made him wear the “First Mate” over his cotton plaid shirt…), and tacked on tangled blue string fish netting and plastic crabs out of the black metal lobster pot that holds our seafood dinner decorations.
So been there, wore that, and now what will we be this year? At our age, Adam and Eve is a really bad idea, the pinnacle of over-sharing and you just can’t count on good weather.
I am also too old to be the fair Princess Buttercup and make Si be Wesley, a.k.a. the Dread Pirate Roberts, from my favorite movie, The Princess Bride. I do deserve credit, though, for training him to say, “As you wish” each time I call out, “Farm Boy” from a warm bathtub, waiting for him to bring me my fresh towel. So perhaps we’ll just have to leave the fantasy at that…
Surfing the web for suggestions, I briefly considered the combination of dog and owner. But with a collar and a leash, people might think we off to the Folsom Street bondage fair in the San Francisco – a bit kinky by Alameda standards.
I could recycle our 1981 costumes, when Si was the big-eared Prince Charles and I was the bashful, 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer, but the way their fairytale played out, it’s just too heartbreaking. And, honestly, I just can’t bring myself to let Si be Charles and go dressed as Camilla. (Way too scary a costume for me, even if it is Halloween…)
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie might work, but we would have to borrow several small children for the evening. Also, I am the polar opposite of tall, dark and lanky, so Si would have to get some tattoos and cross-dress as Angelina for it to work.
Searching the dusty cobwebbed corners of my memory for inspiration, I remember my cool eighth grade teacher showing up to school 8 ½ months pregnant in a green Girl Scout’s uniform with a sash that said, “Be Prepared.” (She was inspired by a 1969 poster — a not-so-subtle commercial for contraceptives.) The school administration didn’t appreciate her sense of humor, maybe because of the Girl Scout defamation lawsuit over the poster, but I still think it’s one of the best Halloween costumes I’ve ever seen.
Not having a green uniform in my closet and being far too proud of my weight loss to have anyone falsely accuse me of being pregnant, it was back to the costume drawing board. I brought it up at our family dinner table when our girls and their childhood friend, Christina, were over recently. We reminisced about Halloweens past — haunted houses with wet toilet paper guts, peeled grape eyeballs, cold spaghetti brains, and undrinkable bodily fluids made from tepid tap water and the contents of random jars in our spice cabinet.
Christina’s favorite costume was the year she went as a bag of Jelly Bellies. Her mother surrounded her with multicolored balloons in a large, clear plastic bag. Emily said her favorite was from about fifteen years ago when “I made her” a Beanie Baby ladybug costume. I had to confess that I just made the cardboard “Ty” hang tag. My friend, Ann, had sewed the ladybug costume for her daughter, Molly, the previous Halloween. (Some of the best advice I ever received was, “Never learn to sew, and if you know how to sew, never tell anyone!”) Thank you, Ann, for making me look so good in my daughter’s eyes.
Other than a blue felt crayon and a gray converted pajama Eeyore costume, I never sewed a Halloween costume for either girl. I have a picture of Emily in one of Sarah’s castoff pink ballet costumes against a tree trunk in Franklin Park. I added a pair of sheer white wings, and she was a woodland fairy straight out of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. I did hand “puffy-paint” each individual bead on a Pocahontas outfit, though, which was a labor of love.
As the girls aged, they were flower children with tie dyed T-shirts, or Romanian gypsies with flowing skirts. Sarah, our bio-geoscientist, was once Jody Foster from her favorite movie, Contact. Her costume consisted of jeans, a T-shirt and old style headphones.
Si asked one of his customers — the mother of two young girls — if they had decided what to be yet. She said, “Yes, but I won’t make their costumes until a week before in case they change their minds.” (That mother is smart. I can’t tell you how many times I had a game plan for a daughter’s costume, only to have her change her mind the night before the St. Joseph’s Elementary School Halloween parade.)
So what did I finally decide we will be for Halloween this year? I would tell you, but it’s a classified secret. That, and I don’t want to give Si an opportunity to change our minds.