(Not so) Brilliant Disguise

badcostumeLet me get this on the table right away. I’m a complete failure at masquerading.

I’ve never been successful at converting myself into something or someone I’m not by way of creative costuming. I guess it started when I was about 5 years old. My mother bought me one of those costumes in a box so I could look appropriately spooky when begging, er, trick or treating. Yes. I was a a devil. The cheap plastic mask’s sharp edges cut into my eyes and lips, so by the time I got home and discovered most of my loot consisted of stupid Mary Janes and Smarties I looked like an extra on the Walking Dead. The costume itself was no better. The only way to put it on was to step into a too-small slit in the back, which I promptly made much bigger by stepping onto the seam and ripping it to the point where my butt was now hanging out in the cold October rain. Yes. It always rained on Halloween in Queens, NYC, NY.

The following years I took the easy way out and simply cut a couple of eye holes and pie hole for my mouth in an old sheet to make myself look like a ghost. Unfortunately, I was so short and the sheet so long, I wasn’t really spooky looking, but did do a an excellent job at masquerading as unfolded laundry. I was not amused when I found several dryer sheets in my trick or treat bag.

For many subsequent Halloweens I stayed home and handed out candy, thus sparing myself the indignity of publicly displaying my pathetic inability to adequately cover my street clothes with scream clothes. It also gave me the opportunity to taunt kids wearing what I thought were loser costumes, with such frothy bon mots as “hope the sex change is successful,” and “you don’t need candy. Here’s a can of Slim Fast.” The upside was I got valuable exercise washing the egg off our windows.

When I was dating my wife, we hitchhiked from college to her home, about 70 miles away, one Halloween. Didn’t matter we were both 20, we decided to dress as bums and hit up her neighbors for some Tootsie Rolls or other junk from which we could get a sugar high. Good plan. Bad execution. A burly guy answered the first door we knocked, looked us up and down and barked “you guys look old enough to work!” as he slammed the door in our faces. Luckily, the drinking age in New York at the time was 18, so we found solace in a six-pack of Genesee Cream Ale.

Fast forward to my mid-twenties when my wife and I were invited to a very hip annual Halloween bash at a co-worker’s house in Tucson, Arizona. Being a perfect couple, neither of us had any idea of how to dress up. In a fit of both desperation and utter stupidity, we decided to come as a pair of milk bottles. Don’t ask. I have no adequate reply. Bourbon may have been involved. We made the costumes out of newspapers painted white with “Milk” written in black on the front. You’re probably wondering why no photos of this? Luckily this was in the later 1970’s and both social media and camera phones didn’t exist. People didn’t exactly walk around with Instamatics everywhere. Oh. We also decked the one wiseguy who did and attempted to snap us.

Duly traumatized by the experience, we swore off any subsequent attempts at Halloween costuming. We never discouraged our kids from doing so and indeed, they were much better at pulling off the annual rite of disguise.

Our kids are now grown so our trick or treating days are long over, leaving us to be the ones to answer the door. I always get a kick out of seeing the faces of sugar solicitors who are obviously beyond what I would consider the valid age for candy bar begging and bark, “you look old enough to work!”

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