Friday, October 31, 2014

It's Not a Costume, It's a Character Builder

Happy Halloween! (Hallowe'en for my Canadian friends and family.)

It's the boy's third Halloween. He was a bit too small to be dressed up for his first celebration and last year he was a cow. Yes, a cow. Not a zombie cow, or a vampire cow or anything remotely scary, just a cute little cow.  

It was a store-bought costume, one of those much-maligned, mass produced numbers and it was truly cute. Never one to stare an easy task in the face and accept it, Mrs. Blackwell decided that, this year she'd be making the boy's costume. 
Daddy be proud of his murderous little Sith Lord. 

It didn't start out that way. We had a Darth Vader costume arrive in the mail about a month ago. Darth Vader? Yeah, that's the perfect balance of scary but galaxy-far-far-away cute. 

Alas, Lord Vader's costume didn't fit the boy. We had to send it back and the proper size wasn't available. 

So, with no Plan B, Mrs. Blackwell's active and ambitious mind was free to roam. She consulted me for further ideas but, really only as a courtesy. She had her own ideas.

Flying solo, she devised a number of plans before she and a friend determined that the boy would be dressed as a drummer for the Wisconsin Marching band. It's a smart idea really, given the boy's propensity for drumming.

But this is not a costume one can find off the rack at Toys R Us. So, in keeping with tradition handed down from mother to daughter for generations, out came the sewing machine, the glue gun and the accusations that "You don't know what you're doing!"

Kidding. There were no such accusations. But, there were countless hours spent by Mrs. Blackwell and myself working, nay, slaving getting this costume juuuuust perfect for the boy.

Kidding again. I had nearly nothing to do with the production of this costume. That said, Mrs. Blackwell did have help. In fact, she had the perfect accomplice — my mom.

My mother never met a store-bought costume that she couldn't outdo. Consequently, her boys (there are three of us) were always decked out in homemade costumes, even if we deemed the store bought costumes to be "cooler."
Pictured: none of my doing. 

Most of mom's costumes hit the mark and met her exacting expectations. And a special few hit the mark while simultaneously serving as a form of torture. But, like Ralphie from 'A Christmas Story', you don't want to wear the pink rabbit outfit, but you can't argue that it isn't cute. 

My rabbit-suit-outfit-character-building moment came in the second grade when my mom made a scarecrow outfit for me. 

In the absence of hay, mom used pine needles. There was a head piece, a neck piece, wrist bands and anklets, all glue-gunned and fitted with needles to give the appearance that I was stuffed with the pine needles. 

It worked. It looked great. And I was an itching, miserable mess. 

Mom, being the fair person she is, agreed that the next year we'd spare me the torture and buy a store-bought costume for me. We went out and got one and, for the life of me, I can't remember what it was. 

So, when his evening winds down, the boy might come home with unfavorable memories of dragging a drum around the neighborhood while wearing a big hat with feathers hanging off it, and his mind's eye might make it seem worse than it was — for a while.

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