October 25, 2008 7:00 am
This week’s edition of the Spin Cycle (brought to you by Sprite’s Keeper, sign up now, you know you want to) is on the topic of Halloween. Here is one of my memories.
I’ve posted here before about my childhood and how we didn’t have a lot of money growing up. Every Halloween, my mom would ask us what we wanted to dress up as. She would then make frequent trips to Goodwill or the fabric shop to put together the pieces of our costume and try to make us happy and stay within budget. I knew early on that we couldn’t afford storebought costumes so I didn’t ask for them. Looking back, the homemade ones were far superior to anything we could have bought in a store. For the most part.
The year was 1988 and those damned California Raisins were all the rage. I was eleven at the time and I fell for the advertising big time. You remember this freaky-assed commercial, don’t you?
Well that year, when my poor mom asked me what I wanted to be for Halloween, I picked California Raisin. She indulged me and we went shopping for supplies. Chicken wire, papier-mâché, purple paint, white gloves and my knock off Chuck Taylors. It sounded so cool and I was psyched that my mom went along with it. My parents molded the shape out of chicken wire and we began the papier-mâché. Every night we’d put another layer on it and leave it on the patio to dry during the day. This went on for days and when Halloween Eve rolled around, the thing still wasn’t dry enough to paint but we did it anyways. I went to bed that night feeling so worried that my costume wouldn’t be ready in time.
By Halloween night, the Papier-mâché and paint were mostly dry. Trick-or-treating time had rolled around and I wiggled my way into my costume. I met up with my friend Natasha who lived about half a mile away. Since times were different then, I walked to Natasha’s house on my own and my brothers both went out with their friends. I was ecstatic to show off my costume by going house to house and getting candy while doing made it even better. Halfway to Natasha’s house, I noticed that the costume was getting heavy. A shitload of papier-mâché on a chicken wire base turned out to weigh an awful lot for an eleven year old to support. I also notice a strong paint smell mixed with the glue from the papier-mâché. It was at least 80°F that night and the sweat was dripping down my legs.
I barely made it to my friend’s house under the weight of the costume. I was dripping sweat, physically exhausted and high on paint fumes. Not to mention the fact that I looked more like Mr Hankey than a California Raisin. I was determined to wear that costume since my mom had worked so hard on it (also because I feared what she might do to me if I didn’t). I dragged myself from house to house muttering a half-hearted Trick-or-Treat and thanking the admirers of the costume. I couldn’t keep it up any longer. After hitting two neighborhoods with the costume from hell, I made the trek back home to shed my exoskeleton. My mom was busy handing out candy so I ditched the raisin and headed back out with a lame mask from the box of previous costumes. Much better. From that point on, I asked for simple and light-weight costumes. I was a scarecrow one year and another, I borrowed a cape and mask from my brother. I grew too old for trick-or-treating a couple years after Raisin Fest and haven’t had to worry about costumes since. Now that I have children, I wonder if we’re going to have any costume faux pas in our future. Time will tell….