I promised my kids, after much begging on their part, that I’d dress up for Halloween this year. Maybe, I thought, I’d continue my longtime childhood role of witch – one of those wonderfully hideous hags with a pointy black hat and hooked plastic nose complete with wart. Or maybe I’d reprise my polyester princess phase, with a few adult modifications.
But when I went costume shopping with my family, I found that the hags have turned to hoochies, and the princesses are parading more than their tiaras.
I searched through dozens of costumes, all of them offering a shrink-wrapped style that ranged from sexy to slutty to skanky.
The witches were wearing very little. There were naughty nurses with uniforms so low-cut they could induce heart failure, and a deviant housewife ensemble that seemed ill-suited for mopping floors. Little Red Riding Hood, sporting thigh-highs, was definitely not headed to her grandmother’s house. And Goldilocks, with her plunging neckline and platform heels, looked ready to sleep in everyone’s bed. It was all more strip club than storybook.
For the briefest of moments, I considered buying one of these outfits, actually mulled over the suggestion on the package of one costume that I channel my inner vixen. But my vixen vanished when I saw the looks of horror on the faces of my children. Mom in a minidress was an idea more monstrously frightening than they could fathom.
So, still in need of a disguise, I pondered my predicament. My Halloween attire would have to be homemade, something funny and familiar, or perhaps soothing and sweet, or maybe even slightly scary. But not salacious.
I could dress up as one of the most important items in our house – the remote control – with custom buttons designed to appeal to each member of my family. There’d be a Fulltime Football button and a Constant Cartoons knob, along with one labeled Law and Order 24/7. And, for laughs, I could include one they’d find highly useful on occasion – Mute Mom.
Or, I could get creative with the cardboard and felt and appeal to the stomach by appearing as a plate of nachos or a tray of chocolate chip cookies, the kind of eye candy that would spark my gang’s gratitude.
I could remind them of all that I do. I could cut a circle out of a laundry basket and insert it over my body, with pieces of dirty clothing dangling from clothespins. Or I could pose as a giant red spoon with Betty Crocker scrawled across my forehead. I could cover myself with foil marked as leftovers. Or maybe I could stick some toy tires on my arms and legs and masquerade as a minivan.
In the end, I decided on something very simple. I realized that, in a way, I wear a disguise every day. Every morning, I am transformed from a bleary-eyed creature straight out of Night of the Living Dead into something resembling an attractive human being.
I paint my face, and I fix my hair. I get dressed up in slimming garb designed to trick people into thinking I’m a treat. So this year, I’m going to skip that step and stroll the streets as myself. And my kids will probably think that’s the scariest costume of all.
Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning freelance writer and editor. Her humor writing has been featured in several books, including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, as well as in numerous publications in the United States, Canada and India. You can read more of her work at www.jackiepapandrew.com.