I was probably around 8 or 9 when my mom and her best friend decided to “help” me win the prize for best costume at the neighborhood Halloween party. They worked for days on my disguise, a witches outfit. I remember fittings for the black dress and one night of hat construction. It developed that it is difficult to roll construction paper to the correct point on top and still have the exact fit for my head. Like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter, my witch hat was difficult to control once it was on my head.
As the big night got closer, the perfect mask was discovered. Like the hat, it also fit somewhat haphazardly on my kid face, often obstructing my vision. This made me walk with my head slightly tilted back which put the witch hat in a precarious position and also made it difficult to see where my feet were going.
I was not pleased with this outfit, but the obvious delight Mom and Alice were taking in its creation was hard to fight, so on the night of the party, I just meekly stood for my transformation.
You have to understand this was a small neighborhood party. Simply by process of elimination, it should have been easy for the adult sponsors to figure out what kid was dressed in what outfit. At least, you would have thought so.
Because they wanted no hints as to my identity, Mom and Alice drove me to the party, but let me out about a block away so no one would see the car that brought me. My last instruction as I carefully exited the car: “Don’t talk. They won’t be able to guess who you are if you don’t say anything.”
It was dark. My mask kept slipping down on my face and covering my eyes, but every move I made to correct it put my hat in grave danger of falling off. Somehow I made it to the door only to discover the party was in the basement…down steep steps. Somehow, with great care and very slowly I negotiated the stairs and entered the party.
That party was…well, I did not have fun. Turns out not being able to speak a word is very limiting. Did I want to sit down? Nodding was dangerous, so I didn’t say a thing.
Did I want red KoolAid or purple? Not a word.
Do you want to take your mask off and bob for apples? I just stared straight ahead.
I couldn’t join in any games that involved physical movement…or talking, so I sat to the side and watched (as well as I could through tiny mask eye-holes that kept slipping down my face.
At the end of the party, prizes were awarded for scariest costume, funniest costume, and the big one, the costumed person who could not be guessed. I won that one big time. Everyone was amazed when I finally agreed to remove the pesky, ugly mask.
When Mom and Alice picked me up after the party they were excited to find out how it went. Did I win anything? Yes, no one could guess who I was, so yes, I won that.
If there had been such a thing as High Fives back then, Mom and Alice would have done the whole bit with the explosion at the end. As it was, they were extremely proud of their accomplishment and only barely noticed my lack of enthusiasm when asked if I had fun.
“Yes, yes I did.” I answered.
And that’s why I don’t dress up for Halloween.