Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Favorite Costume

More fun from Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge.  This week I am writing about
5.) Describe a favorite Halloween costume or moment you wish you had on video.

but you should head over to Mama Kat's to check out all the topics.

My Favorite Halloween Costume

I have just one favorite Halloween costume, which is amazing for several reasons. By all logic it should have been one of my least favorite costumes and instead it is the one that sticks in my mind with the most emotional impact all these years later. The story begins ...

It was Halloween and I was in the first grade. We were living in a small town in Nebraska, a town with a population of less than 350 including the dogs, pigs, and cats. That kind of a small town. But, being that small had its advantages. The only restaurant in town hosted an annual Halloween event, Hot Chocolate and Treats, on the eve of Halloween. Not only could a kid collect the loot from one place, drink hot cocoa, and see everyone's costumes, there was a contest with actual prizes!

In anticipation of the evening, I worked hard on the costume of my dreams. I was fascinated by robots, so a robot I was to be. You'd be amazed what one can do with oodles of cardboard boxes, buttons, paint, tape and imagination. In my mind I pictured the costume as looking a bit like this picture, sans the cigar and engineering refinements.

I lacked the foresight to use flexible arms like the costume in the picture. I used two cardboard boxes on each arm, leaving me with almost no motion in the arms. The box on top of my head made sure I had no peripheral vision as well. (But it did hide my glasses!) So motion of any form was lacking in grace and flexibility.

On the eve of the contest i was excited. All my friends from school were there and we were all anxious to see what each others costumes were like. It was a period when cowboy costumes were all the rage, so there were a heck of a lot of cowboys present. Likewise princesses. Astronauts were still new in the pantheon of heroes; I don't remember a single astronaut in the crowd.

After the excitement of collecting loot and the costume judging (I didn't win), it was time to gather up a cup of hot chocolate and sit down at a booth to drink it. It was at that point it became clear that neither activity was going to be possible in my costume. In no way, shape, or form could I carry a cup of hot chocolate in costume without spilling it. And even if I could, there was no possibility of folding my boxed form into a booth. To make things even trickier, I had taped my costume on in a one way entry configuration. The only way to take it off meant it was off for good and that it was not an easy task to remove it.

I waffled about for a bit and finally decided that it was worth it to rip off the arms and torso so I could sit down and have that wonderfully aromatic hot chocolate. Did I mention that the diner was quite crowded with all of us munchkins running loose? Did I also mention that the diner used glass cups stacked high on trays for serving the cocoa? Have you figured out what happened next?

That's right. Rip, wing, crash. Pretty much in that order and suddenly there were literally what seemed to me to be hundreds of broken cups all over the floor. You can see why I said that it defied all logic as to why I regarded this as my favorite costume. Most favorite costumes do not star in a disaster of such proportions.

But the chaos of the disaster was quickly forgotten because of the wonderful way the incident was handled by the restaurant owners (whose son was in my class and at the contest as well) and their staff. No recriminations, no scolding, no blame: only a kindly helping hand in removing the costume, getting me some coca, and getting me sat down. I often think back to that evening and have a wonderful warm glow because of the way the adults around me handled the situation. It makes me wonder what my memories and feelings would have been had the adults reacted in the fashion I see so often: with recrimination and blame.

So there you have it, my favorite costume. It is my favorite not because it was a great costume, not because I especially liked it, but because I have some really great memories of kindness associated with it.

P.S. For those who read yesterday's post, I was almost right. It rained until about 2pm and then started snowing. It has been snowing off and on all night and is predicted to really kick in tomorrow with 50 mph winds. Nothing like early blizzard white-out conditions to make sure you think winter is really on its way.


  1. It's great when adults are understanding and do the right thing :-)

  2. I wish you had a picture...that would be neat to see! I'm glad it brings back warm cocoa memories for you!

  3. I like your costume idea but like you say, not very practical. It reminded me of when my and my best friend went as a pair of dice. I purposely tried for something that I would have an excuse to take off because I didn't want to dress up for the whole party. It was just a box with holes for my arms and my head and black construction paper circles glued on to make it look like a die. Have to say that was my favorite costume.

    Visiting through writer's workshop. Here's a link to my post:

  4. I love this post! Especially the part about it being a warm memory because the adults handled the spill with grace and understanding.

  5. Do you have a picture of your robot costume? I love that the adults were kind- I try really hard to be when my kids make mistakes like that, but sometimes my frustration shines through loud and clear.

  6. was so hoping for a picture of you in this robot suit, but alas no such luck. Guess I'll have to imagine. Glad the grown ups acted grown up.

  7. What a beautiful post. You gave me a smile. You're right, how someone reacts can change the outcome and memories. I wish more people could react calmly and with kindness. Excellent post!

  8. I'm calling for a recreation...not of the glasses falling over part, but of the costume itself. You can knock one out in less than 24 hours...right?

  9. At first I thought the photo was of your costume and I was like "That totally rocks." I've had movement-inhibited costumes before and they are terrible ... but I never smashed a whole tray of glasses! Nice to know this little mishap was met with understanding and kindness. And Halloween in your small town sounds lovely!

  10. That really does sound like a fabulous costume, in spite of its being so cumbersome!

  11. Glad you finally got your hot chocolate. I hope my sons want different costumes and have an imagination so as not to want to be "cowboys" like everyone else!

  12. That was a really touching story and I'm so proud of the adults for not ruining your Halloween.


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