When I was a youngster, Thanksgiving and Christmas were over-the-top events for my family, but other than a large metal bowl of miniature Snickers bars on the front porch, Halloween was usually overlooked. My parents didn’t put much stock into the holiday, and I firmly believe that is why I enjoy it so much today.
Now, I’m going to show you something here that might make you sad, but I’m not looking for your pity. No, I suspect I’m not alone with this experience and that there are others who might be helped to overcome their own Halloween shame by this article, so here goes…
That’s me in the middle. The year was 1977–I was five years old–old enough to know what Halloween was all about, but not old enough to realize the importance of a good Halloween costume.
It was Halloween night and the doorbell rang. It was our neighbor, Julie, dressed up as Jamie-frickin’-Sommers! I always liked Julie, and if we lived there for a few more years, who knows, maybe I’d be married to the Bionic Woman today. I digress. My mom thought Julie was so adorable and asked me if I wanted to dress up too. It. Was. Halloween. Night.
Of course I wanted to dress up! So, off to my parent’s bedroom to see what kind of costume could be devised in three minutes or less. Apparently sad, axe-murdering clowns are easy to throw together. And what was wrong with my brother! He’s a couple years older than me and his costume is almost as pathetic as mine–a Hobo! Really? And I remember that hat he’s wearing–it wasn’t from the costume store–that was a hat he actually wore regularly (and one that was eventually handed down to me to “treasure”).
Now that I’m a parent, when Halloween rolls around, I am the first one at the costume shop looking over the year’s new branded costumes, not wanting my offspring to endure the shame I suffered. I’ve been pushing for Batman and Robin since the day they were born, but so far, we’ve had the Cat in the Hat, Jango Fett, Pokemon, and this year will be Angry Birds and Skylanders. I’m okay with that. I’m sure that when my boys are all grown up, they will thumb through their iPhone photo albums and look back fondly at their childhood Halloween getups–and go on to ignore the holiday outright for their kids.
This year, I actually have two Halloween parties to attend, but the older I get, the wiser my choices in the practicality of costumes. This year, form will be following function, and I will be a somewhat boring Mal Reynolds of Firefly fame. Yes, it’s been done a million times before, and usually badly, but the costume will allow me to repurpose it to be a cowboy with an awesome handlebar mustache for the kids’ party. Sure, giant Frankenstein heads are awesome (2006) but they scare the little ones and make eating and drinking impossible. There is no makeup that will start to run and stain the costumes of everyone around me (1992), and no flowing fabric to ignite on the luminaries that line the driveways of some houses (2008).
Of course the biggest bonus of this costume is that I will be able to hit the punch as hard as I want in an effort to keep down those old Halloween memories buried in the dark recesses of my brain.
This week, the League was asked to write about their most epic Halloween costumes and what they will be this year. I’m not the only one dressing up this year–check out these fine folks: Monster Cafe, Q the Adult, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang, and more!
Dex (@Dex1138) says
It wasn’t Firefly related but I did see a girl do a cool space cowboy look a couple years ago. It wasn’t anything complicated, just enough so that when you see it, you think “Of course, she’s a space cowboy”
I expect a few people will ask who I’m supposed to be, and to them I will simply reply “a cowboy.” 😉
Bootleg Ronald McDonald? My girls keep promising that this year they want to be Batgirl. We shall see…
My niece was Batgirl last year and totally stole the show for cuteness.
Great post, Captain! That look on your face is priceless–like you’ve embraced your costume’s failure. You kind of look like a sad Ronald McDonald. Meanwhile your brother smiles smugly on, as if to say “Yeah, I know this hobo costume is kinda lame, but at least I know what the hell I’m supposed to be!”
I can just imagine the following scenario:
Neighbor With Candy: “And what are you supposed to be, little boy?”
5 Year Old You: “I DON’T F*CKING KNOW LADY, ALL RIGHT? JUST GIVE ME SOME CANDY!”
P.S – It’s “Jaime” Sommers, not “Jamie.” I was named after her so I feel compelled to point this out…it seems important somehow.
-2 geek credits for me. I was actually struggling over the correct spelling of her last name. 😉
Caffeinated Joe says
Why did so many of us back then get this sort of costume? Either this or ending up with the store bought crap! LOL
I think Mal is a great, fun costume idea. Wear it with pride!
I wonder if there are kids today that still get this sort of treatment. If there are, I haven’t seen them.
I dressed up as a hobo once for Halloween. I had a big plastic cigar that I carried as well. What’s with that? Who wants to be a hobo?!? Although I didn’t do it in black face, lol.
Ha! I’m pretty sure he was supposed to be dirty not black, but what do I know, I was five. 😉
The real question is which one of you made that plate turtle in the background!?
HAHAHA! Poor Brian! You look so sad!
I don’t remember my parents making a big deal out of Halloween either so I became a professional at throwing costumes together all the way through middle school. Of course none of my costumes were coherent in any way but they were better than the kids who show up at my house with just their normal cloths on and a bag for candy.
Just an FYI, I’m totally cropping your face and using it as my Twitter avatar. 😉
Ha! you do that. 😉
The Goodwill Geek says
Awwww… That reminds me of the year I wanted to go as a “Hobo Mouse” and no one knew what to get me for a costume, so I had to make it myself. I ended up pretty much looking like that, except with a black hat. I was pretty much just a hobo clown, and a poor one at that.
A hobo mouse? What happened to the poor little guy to knock him down to hobo status? 😉
My mother wouldn’t buy manufactured costumes for us … sadly, this is why I was never Jamie-frickin’-Sommers!! Although, in retrospect, I remember my friends complaining about breathing behind those molded plastic masks 🙂
Wendy, you haven’t lived until you’ve cut your tongue on the air hole of a cheap plastic Halloween mask. 😉
Plastic masks rock! Love cutting my face on those! By the way it does sort of look Ronald McDonald -ish sort of maybe. I give up.
There can never be enough Mals. Firefly is the best! Good choice.
Reis O'Brien says
Oh what a sad tale! Is not your fault, man. And you did the best you could on such short notice. Luckily, my parents were pretty on board with the whole Halloween thing. In fact, my family was pretty holiday crazy all year long.
And nothing wrong with Mal, my friend!
I’m going with a classic this year. Ch-ch-ch… Ah-ah-ah….