The costume closet was a place of wonder growing up. Need a wig? You got it. Need a fur stole? Yep. Need some skin tight, paint-splattered tights? We have those too. It seems as though my mom saved everything that could possibly come in handy some day. Have an idea and it’s not in the magical closet? Mom will make it.
Apparently, I like this pose.
Now, some things she made were just a hair off the mark. Remember the super scary Thriller keyboard shirt? It was a little more flash than fear. One year, I wanted to be the Pink Panther for Halloween. Mom got right to work on the costume. I couldn’t wait. She worked and worked, sewing at the dining table for weeks. When it was finished, just in time, I was so excited. (No, I have no idea why I was excited to be the Pink Panther.) I rushed into my room to put on the get-up and realized immediately there was a slight problem. While it had a fabulously long tail, it also came with bunny ears. Floppy bunny ears. I was some sort of mutated version of a rabbit and a cat. In between my parents’ laughter, I somehow gathered up the courage and made it out the door for a night of trick or treating. A night filled with, “What are you little girl?” “The Pink Panther?” I’d reply in question form. I’m pretty sure I received extra candy that year out of pity for the poor bunny/cat girl.
While I’m almost positive this wasn’t a purposeful mistake, looking back, mom tried to make the best of it. She said, “See? You can disarm people into thinking you’re a cute little bunny. But then, you can turn around and show them you are a mean panther.” I was too offended at her claims that the Pink Panther was ferocious to hear what she was really telling me – go with the joke.
There are no lengths my mom won’t go to for a joke. When my aunt who lives in Minnesota was turning 50, my mother wanted to surprise her. She arranged with my oldest cousin to fly in and he would get her to their cabin in the woods of Wisconsin without anyone knowing. Oh, just one more thing Roger, “Can you rent me a bear costume?” “Sure, as long as it’s not for me.” My smart cousin, Roger, is on to her after all these years. She makes up all these skit and costume ideas, saying she’s the one doing everything, only to find out that we’re the ones with the starring roles. “Oh, no, I promise, it’s for me.” Just in case, Roger ordered an XXS costume so she would be the only one to fit in it.
After her sneaky arrival, Roger and my mom managed to get up to the cabin with no problem ahead of my aunt and uncle. Off she went into the woods, dressed as a bear, in the blazing heat of summer. She found the perfect spot to hide. I imagine it was very close to the same place I’d waited years and years earlier for that elusive snipe. Finally, everyone gathered around the campfire and she went in for the attack - growling and pawing at her target. S’mores went flying. Pants were peed.
Now, did she want to see her sister and surprise her on her birthday? Yes. But, she could have just as easily hid in a bedroom at the cabin. Instead, she took time off of work, hopped on a plane, travelled over two thousand mile and waited a total of four hours in 90-something degree weather in a full-on bear costume just to get a laugh. Even if it’s a small one, it doesn’t matter.
Saturday Night Live was always a big deal in our house. Every single one of us loved it. After all, it was good back then. In high school, we had to do a book report from a biography. I chose Gilda Radner, who was as strong of a woman as she was a comedienne. I wondered if I should go through with it as the other kids were giving their reports – all proper and everything. In the end, I did. I pulled out my wig and went for it, doing the whole report as Roseanne Roseannadanna. I think my friends were just laughing at me because I looked and sounded ridiculous. But my teacher, at least, got it. It didn't really matter to me either way. <i>I</i> was having fun.
Since SNL was a part of our daily lives, one year for Halloween, my parents dressed as the Coneheads for a party. It’s amazing, although not surprising, we owned all the items required for the costumes.
Is that a light saber?
On the way to the party, my mom needed to stop and get some batteries for her camera. Now, this is Dallas. On Halloween. So nothing really surprises people that much. It’s expected to see people in costumes everywhere. Even 7-11. But, I don’t think the guy behind the counter was expecting Prymaat Conehead. Pacing back and forth, in her best robotic voice she said, “Batteries. Must have fuel. Mmm. Batteries. Need batteries.” While she heard someone at the back of the store laugh, the guy at the counter stood with his mouth agape. “Huh?” She nodded with her big cone head in the general direction behind him. “Must have batteries. Getting low.” I won’t go into how long it took to get the correct size of said batteries or how many times she walked into the glass door to exit until someone opened it for her while my dad sat in the car rolling his eyes, but she didn’t care. She went for it. I’m thankful to have been taught this valuable lesson from her.
Another one I learned? A little moon goes a long way.
Happy Halloween! Here's to howlin' at the moon!