I Remember Halloween


Bonfires burning bright,
Pumpkin faces in the night,
I remember Halloween...

-Misfits-

My mother always made my costumes. One of my earliest memories is me in my mother's kitchen, perched on the linoleum countertop and her fitting my feet with orange rubber gloves. I was four-years-old and I wanted to be a chicken. I liked to wear gloves on my feet and my mother completed the costume with a yellow streamered-suit hand-sewn and impeccably me.


Through childhood she made all of my out-there costumes. I was a Dead Nun one year and a "hitchhiker who escaped prison" the next. One year I went as a werewoolf (get it?) and the next year I dressed up as an old man and then there was Whoopi Goldberg circa Ghost, which thanks to my Mom, I was able to pull off.


My favorite costume, however, was the one my mother made me at age six. I wanted to dress up like my rat, Kevin so my Mom created a giant pink tail, attached it to my white leotard and sewed spots down my back and a black hood with little pink ears.

I entered myself in the kid's costume contest at the local park. The girl standing next to me won. She was a fairy-princess.

"Hey you. What are you supposed to be?"

"I'm Kevin, my hooded-rat. What are you?"

"I'm a fairy-princess. Duh."

"Oh."

For years I felt robbed of the prize. I had decided that there must have been some sort of mix-up and in actuality, I was the winner of the contest. I had myself convinced that if I had stood up to collect my reward the judges would see that my costume TRULY was the very best and they would have taken the prize back from the fairy-princess to give to me, its rightful owner.

I had been robbed! Either that or the judges had a vendetta against rats which would have been even worse. (I was the hooded-rat's number one fan.)

I may have been the weird kid but my costumes beat the princesses and angels to a bloody pulp (so, I thought.) I took my costuming very seriously, to the point of becoming delusional. What a pain in the ass. No wonder no one wanted to be my friend.



The next year I went as something pretty, Rainbow Brite, my favorite doll/lesbian activist. (Killer boots, right?) It was an amazing costume, but not quite me, so the next year I went back to black. Back to weird. Back to something slimy. Halloween was about masks and wigs and rubber-gloved feet. Halloween was about being different, being silly, being myself.

With the help of my mother's precision and costume-making talent, sky was the limit. Anything I wanted to be she would make.

"You can be anything you want."

And so I was.


When I moved out on my own I tried my best to make my costumes myself. I could not sew so much as a button but I was eager to try. One year I dressed up as "The Underwear Witch". I wore a pointy hat made out of tissue paper and an old pant-leg and made a cape out of my roommates' boxer shorts safety pinned to a piece of bedsheet. No one knew what the hell I was. It was a complete and total failure.

"And what are you?"

"Psh. I have no idea. "

In 2002, I decided to so something a bit more controversial and asked for my mom's assistance. The idea was too good to be poorly made. I drove down to San Diego to be fitted for my Burka. I would be an Afghanistan Peep Show and charge ten cents for a peek at my shoulder, ankle and even toe

My mother pinned, and created velcro peep-holes in the monstrous costume while I brainstormed witty ways to sell my services

disarm, disrobe. $.10

No camel-toe, here. $.10

...Afghanistan Peep Show: Only A Stone's Throw Away!

We laughed through the fitting. It still is one of my all-time favorite moments with my mother.

Unfortunately, come Halloween night, no one noticed my costume because I was with a somewhat famous friend who dressed up like Frida Kahlo (complete with unibrow) and being that his show was at the height of its fame and I was a nobody, no one cared for my song and dance. The night ended badly when I passed out in Glen Danzig's gutter and had to be dragged to Chris's truck and carted away like the terrorist I was, burka flapping in the wind of the haunted night. Those were the days.

In 2003 I dressed up as a Christian Punk band. I called myself "Holy Shit" and with a sharpie I printed the tour dates of my "Bible Belt Tour" on the back. I wore a half-naked Ken doll in a holster around my waist (he was lead-guitar) and I wore Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen dolls on my other hip with a drum stick duct-taped to their hands (Olsen twins were my drummer) which had fallen off by the end of the night when the below Polaroid was taken. "Holy Shit" could not have been complete without my bass player, Jesus H. Christ.

It cost me about thirty-bucks for the dolls, a sharpie and a Jesus is my Homeboy tee from Urban Outfitters. I made it myself. I felt so grown-up:


That was the last time I was able to dress up on Halloween.

For the past two Halloweens, husband and I have dressed up as movers, clad in Adidas pants and sweat-stained t-shirts with dust-bunnies in our hair. We have sadly spent our Halloweens together lugging boxes up the steps in the candlelight of jack-o-lanterns.

We still had ideas, however, and even though we weren't able to make them happen-- thought that counts.

2003- "Attached at the Hipster":: Siamese hipster twins straight out of Spaceland.

2004- "Swing States." :: Swingers/States of Ohio & Florida, on our way to a key-party/caucus.


This year we're not moving. This year there is no excuse not to dress up as something cool and different and if I can pull it off, funny. The trouble is, I'm a terrible crafts(wo)man. I can barely sew a button. I'm a poor excuse for a costume-maker. I use sharpie markers instead of iron-ons, safety pins instead of a needle and thread.

So here I sit, cutting out magazine letters to safety-pin to Archer's costume, a sleeveless onesie, stained and stretched out with a collage of botched letters.

(I just hope no one confuses Archer's "Illustrated Man" costume with that of a homeless punk-rocker on Hollywood Blvd, and I, the bearded lady as some kind of cracked-out sound-guy. )


It is possible that in the future, Archer will want to be a superhero or a pop-culture trend, and that's okay too, but just in case he wants to dress up like a volcano or a sunflower-seed, I want to be prepared. I want Archer to know he can be whoever he wants, that I would be happy for him to step outside the mass-produced box, scribble outside the lines, make up his own mind. I want him to look back with joy and laughter on his Halloweens and like me, be able to say that his mom made his costumes.

Halloween marked my most memorable moments. It was the one night a year I was able to dress up as whatever I wanted and no one would care. No one would make fun of me in my dorky underwear cape or my werewoolf mask, in my rat costume, with rubber gloves for feet.

Halloween nights were for make-believe and weirdness, nights I want Archer to find just as exciting. Nights I hope to co-create with Archer's imagination, a Sharpie marker and a few safety pins.

Like my mother did for me.

GGC

39 comments:

Crunchy Carpets | 4:22 PM

We keep coming up with subversive costumes for our kids, but being that the'My Parents Are Geeks' t shirt my son used to wear offended the neighbours..we have been too chicken.

Though he was a politicaly incorrect Cowboy last year.

This year he is a bat and I don't have a costume yet and I reeeeeeeelly want one.

krista | 4:27 PM

Aw, I love Halloween, and this reminds me yet again, why I do.

And this part made me laugh uncontrollably:

"Rainbow Brite, my favorite doll/lesbian activist. (Killer boots, right?) "

nice picture. You were soooo cute as rainbow bright.

Bluepaintred | 5:05 PM

you almost make me ashamed of the way I mother my children. You are SUCH a good mother. goes to show that good parenting produces good parents!

braiding mommy | 5:19 PM

Yes, I agree with bluepaintred - you make me ashamed of my cute animal costumes and my "mother" (as in 'this year for halloween I am a mom') costumes. But hey... one year for Halloween, my mom dressed up as the Ten Commandements. That was pretty neat.

reluctant housewife | 5:56 PM

I love your chicken costume. To death. Your mom is awesome.

MotherBumper | 6:06 PM

You passed out in Danzig's gutter. Could you be any cooler? I think not. And that costume you wore just sounded so hilarious (and potentially moneymaking).

Karen | 6:29 PM

You would love to learn to sew. It is truly a subversive skill - especially on Halloween. Get your mom to teach you, and then add the needle and thread to your box full of sharpies. You and Archer will be really ready to rock Halloween for all its possibilities.(AND then you could enter the next Project Runway....)

Wendy | 6:59 PM

I agree with mother bumper, you are so cool for passing out in Danzig's gutter. Aw man!!!

I cant sew and dont attempt even sharpies and safety pins, but I do try and find the best store bought costumes for Amber. I am not proud of the choices I made for her in the past, but we kept with the theme of Halloween. Now, we have moved into princesses and fairies. This year she has a choice, witch or Cinderella. I hope she chooses the witch. She does love the spookiness of it all.

I, too, believe you were robbed.

Does it count that at the age of 15 months we dressed her in her cat costume and had a photo shoot in one of our lovely cemetaries? I love those pictures.

Chag | 7:48 PM

You rule as a rat! You should have won.

Next October, let's get together and bounce ideas off one another. Because you are a genius.

foodiemama | 9:00 PM

that was awesome! i love the chicken costume your mom did.
i am trying to be all crafty for gus costume..home-made costumes are a must here! i dread the super hero/cartoon costumes that may make there way. my mom made mine and it was great.
this year he is going to be a garden gnome..well, he and i are going to be garden gnomes...just sewing felt onto a pointy party hat is difficult enough for me though, haha.
love the idea of illustrated man!

Anonymous | 9:22 PM

Thought us home-made costume makers were a dying breed. And I'm not talking the big fuzzy lion or pea in a pod that is in every parent's magazine every year. When my daughter broke my heart and decided to be Belle two years ago I bought a yellow sheet and went to work. My son asked to be Superman (how could he do that to me??) so I got a blue jogging suit, red rain boots, handmade cape and Superman underoos to go over it. No sewing required but I still felt like I did something. Would it be easier and cheaper to buy a witch costume for my 3 year old this year? of course. I just can't bring myself to do it. and after reading your post, I don't regret it for a minute. (okay maybe i will tomorrow when i'm sewing and cutting like crazy, by hand thank you very much, but i will think of how my children will remember it for years to come. just like you do.)

oh and for some laughs: http://www.costumeideazone.com/CIZ/CostumesByCategories.aspx?c=8&p=1

Go Ceilings! ~jjlibra

Anonymous | 9:23 PM

p.s.- your mom is the queen and i LOOOOOVE the rubber gloves and am so jealous that i didn't think of it!!

Heather | 9:39 PM

You rocked all those costumes.

I remember my Mom and I making all of my Halloween costumes. I don't think I knew you could buy them.

So far, I've taken the store-bought route with my kids...mostly. I have made a few costumes though...Peter Pan, and a Butterfly. Not as unique as yours, but we all must start somewhere.

SHannon | 10:09 PM

My mom refused to buy storebought costumes. We had to come up with an idea and she helped us bring it together. I completely believe it was the beginning of my constant need for craftiness. Caleb is rockin a store bought pirate costume this year because I found one that was too darn cute. Guilt won me over though and I justified it by building him a pimped out wagon a la Pirate ship. I can't wait for halloween! You betta post picks of Archer. . . can't wait t o see him in all his tattoo glory. Hehehe!

bunmaster | 11:03 PM

That werewoolf picture scared the crap out of me. And those Rainbow Brite boots? Rockin'.

I'm re-teaching myself to sew this year because I am determined to make our Halloween costumes once she can start telling me what she wants to be. For now it's Old Navy to the rescue. Cute & cheap.

Jason King | 11:58 PM

Bravo/a, again. Oh and why don't you dress up as someone in Vice Magazine this year?

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 12:10 AM

Jason-

Shhhhh. That's supposed to be on the DL, dude.

La Rêveuse | 7:51 AM

GGC, I'd like to introduce you to the world's best non-sewing technique for cool halloween costumes.

Hot Glue
Felt
Sharpies

One year, with a hula hoop as a base, I was a pizza. It rocked.

The next year, hubby and I went as bacon and eggs. He made me be eggs. We got our picture taken by so many people on State Street in Madison (home of the riots!)

The next year, we went as two trees and a hammock. Added curley wigs (fros) that were spray painted with orange, green, brown hair color and stuck through with lots of leaves from the craft store, made the trunks out of felt, made wrist branches--we were the bomb. We had a real hammock, and a life-size stuffed Frankenstein in the middle. He had a beer.

Seriously, you don't have to sew. Felt. Hot Glue. Sharpies. You can be creative and still totally pull it off.

Good luck!

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:00 AM

DAMN! That's amazing! I love the trees and hammock. Bacon and Eggs? Love LOVE your costumes and THANKS for the heads-up. Need to get me a hot-glue gun.

Although after this post I think I may be getting a sewing machine and lessons for my next birthday. Perhaps if I turned my shopping habit into a sewing-archer-and-my-clothes habit... ?

Joker The Lurcher | 10:23 AM

he will remember your efforts even if they aren't perfect! here is me as batman in the early 1960s:

http://flickr.com/photos/jokerthelurcher/41694728/

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:50 AM

J the L --

Thanks for sharing. So cute!!!!

Bobita | 11:25 PM

Great post. I'm a huge Halloween fan myself. I have a costume party Sunday night to which I will wear my "Not a perfect mother" costume. Heh. But the get-up will only be complete after I've had a few Martinis at the party!! :)

mad muthas | 1:26 AM

that rat costume - it WAS a mistake. didn't anyone tell you? oh god - i'm sooooo sorry. i thought you knew. yeah - that princess girl faked the whole thing but the judges found out. they tried to locate you but by then you'd left. anyway - yep, you won. so belated congrats! did you hear any news about me in that skipping race in primay 3? cos i KNOW i won and that theresa pepper was totally cheating. let me know - cos i've been waiting to hear about it for years ....

Kristen | 5:39 AM

Man, your mom rocks! That Rainbow Brite outfit was perfect. (Even though I know it wasn't really you.) Your ideas are so creative - even if you can't sew, I think Archer is going to come away with awesome halloween memories with you.

kittenpie | 4:22 PM

I wish your mom was my mom now. That chicken costume is amazing! And the rat should have won. (I had a hooded rat once too...)

Mommytojacknjas | 4:27 PM

lmfao i love em!! my daughter saw u in ur chicken csotume and goes CHICKEN! hehe:)
cute!
hugs

my mom made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich one year:) it was soo kewl!

the weirdgirl | 7:28 PM

I can't sew either, even though my mom is the textile craft queen. But she never really made costumes for me (lots of clothes, no costumes) so I started putting stuff together early. A couple of tips I've learned... they have this sticker backed felt in all the crafts shops now. It's GREAT! And if you add sparky beads to your safety pins then they just become part of the costume. I do lots of lurking in vintage clothing stores; a lot of them will put out costumes in November (plus some of the cool vintage stuff I end up wearing in my regular rotation). One year I found two adult kangaroo costumes in a vintage shop. Me and a co-worker dressed up for work, after we also added tweed jackets and ties.

(Never give up shopping!)

mad muthas | 2:05 AM

sewing does come in handy, though. i was doing a charity half marathon - breast cancer thing in bristol. part of the deal is that everyone - men and women - has to do it in a decroated bra. being too slack to sew, it used fabric glue to attach flowers to mine. well, let me just warn you that sweat dissolves fabric glue. one the plus side, i finished in my best time ever .... (wouldn't you?)

Mombat | 8:00 AM

Ahh, a whole legacy of creativity. That explains quite a bit, GGC. My husband went one year as the ValueJet plane crash into the everglades, which consisted of little alligators, plane pieces, ambulances, people, etc. sewed onto a button-down shirt. The best part of the evening was the sexy schoolgirl who said: "Uh, my best friend's brother's uncle's co-worker's next door neighbor was killed in that crash. So I find it a little offensive, ya know?" Yeah. As if turning every Catholic school girl into slutty fantasies isn't offensive. Love Halloween!

Her Bad Mother | 10:06 AM

I. Want. Your. Rainbow Brite. BOOTS.

last year, I wanted to go as a redneck. I was nine months+ pregnant, and I wanted to wear stained polyester pants with a wife-beater stretched over my bulging belly, with a creepy mustache stuck to my face and a beer bottle (to explain the belly) in my hand.

Vetoed by Husband, who feared that conservative Portuguese neighbours would be alarmed. So this year, I asked if could dress up WonderBaby as a redneck (same idea, smaller belly). Vetoed, for same reason.

So she'll be a chicken. I'll slip the pasties on the chicken outfit when Husband isn't looking.

Kendra | 10:24 AM

LOVE the chicken costume! And, I too, am a failure with the sewing machine. The hot glue gun and a sewing product called "Heat-n-Bond" (http://www.notions.fabricstodyefor.com/adhesives/heat_n_bond_ultra_hold.htm) are in my costume making arsenal. So far, I have made the boy (now 6) a magician, Blue from Blues clues, Bugs Bunny, and Superman. Yes, I know I could probably BUY these, but there is something creatively satisfying making it myself. Have fun!

Andrea | 11:40 AM

I'm dying over here! I LOVE the name of your Christian punk band. Your mother did a helluva job on those costumes kid. My mom made many of our costumes, but she had a pattern book for us to pick from and she would buy the pattern and the fabric and follow the instructions. Not that it's not creative, but it was already thought out for her. Rubber gloves on the feet! That's creative.

ECR | 12:49 PM

I feel so boring. I don't know how long it will be till I will be able to link any of my friends to a Wikipedia entry in their name--if ever. And my costume history is totally unremarkable. The only thing marginally worth mentioning is that last year I was a cat and my husband was a litter box. Anyway, keep the creativity coming, 'cause it really is inspirational.

Heather | 6:26 PM

I love your blog! My mom also made all of us interesting costumes growing up. Surely, that is why she is so offended now when she sees the store bought nonsense I have my children wearing. If only I had the time to truly embrace my creative ideas for Halloween! My sister and her boyfriend went as Kevin Federline and Britney Spears. She wore a necklace that said, "Oops, I did it again (with a pregnancy test dangling from the center). She also had a cabbage patch doll attached to her hip. I found this costume to be interesting and altogether sad at the same time. You are very creative!

Mel | 8:50 PM

I love thrift stores at Halloween (well, and at all other times, if I'm honest).
My 12-year-old wanted to go as a vampire/zombie prom queen (?!) this year, so I found a $7 dress (white poofy skirt, black velvet top) at the thrift store, slashed the tulle and gauze skirt and one of the sleeves, splattered theatrical blood all over it, and went to town with makeup.
I love doing makeup for Halloween, so I usually treat the clothes as a prop.
But I am fully jealous that your mom made you all those killer costumes; my mom didn't sew and I was usually left to bring my ideas to fruition on my own.

silver screen pipe dreams | 10:48 PM

Haha. I love the chicken costume. Really creative. We used to make all our costumes ourselves too. It makes dressing up into someone else so much more enjoyable.
Last year I was a pirate and my entire outfit came from my wardrobe...that worries me a little. As do the store bought costumes I saw this evening.
I didn't get to go out this year but I had a great costume. I was going to be a 'Bad Mother'. I have a baby doll and a snugli and I was going to dress trashy and have a fake cigarette and a real drink. It would be great. next year. sigh. Keep up the good work. Archer's costume sounds like my friend's. He pinned numbers to his clothes and went as 'A Guy You Can Count On.'

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:25 AM

That's awesome!!! What a funny costume! Great idea!

starkweather | 5:28 PM

Wow, Bec, if I'd read this on Friday or Saturday I totally could have capitalized on that man that was hitting on me. I totally missed out when I didn't know who Rainbow Brite was. Uh, maybe this was for the best. But no girls were hitting on me.

Anonymous | 7:25 PM

wow, that chicken costume is immense, and the fact you passed out in danzig's gutter makes you the coolest mom ever. fact! xo