10.27.2011

Top 10 Halloween Costumes I’ve Worn

In no particular order…

10. Ghost. Grandma and I spooked around town one year in the easiest costumes ever…one big ghost accompanied by her mini-me. Nothing elaborate, just your run-of-the-mill, generic type. Matching sheets. I loved that she wore one too. But we kept stepping on the bottom of the sheets, and that made the eyeholes fall down at least to our mouths, if not further, and we ended up stumbling around in the dark all night.

9. Cyndi Lauper. It was about 1984, the height of Cyndi’s career. I was determined to be her. A trip to Hancock Fabrics, some sequins and funky material, a sewn-together handmade costume, teased-up hair, and some outrageous make-up for an 8-year-old, and I was ready to hit the nursing home. That year, my friend (a “fat clown”) and I went trick-or-treating there. I was hugely disappointed that none of the residents knew who I was. “I’m Cyndi Lauper,” I would proudly declare. “Whaaaaaaat?” they would ask. “Cyndi LAUPER! The singer.” “Oh, you mean a princess?” they would say. “Well, you are a pretty little princess, sweetheart.” A PRINCESS?!? In punky make-up and clothes like this? No WAY! I am a pop queen! A rock star! Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…the greatest song EVER! But I would just mumble thank-you and shuffle on down to the next room where the scene would be repeated, much to my dismay.

8. Dorothy. Ah, Dorothy. My all-time favorite heroine. How I wanted to be her. (See this post for more on my Oz fixation.) Mom came through on a little handmade costume. Blue gingham dress, white apron with “OZ” embroidered on the front. A basket with a stuffed Benji the dog inside (of theatrical fame), who doubled easily as Toto. Hours and hours of imaginary play, all year long.

7. Dorothy again. I know, I just said her. But Dorothy deserves at least two spots on this list. (Besides, I only came up with nine costumes, which is not feasible for a top 10 list.) That rig got some serious wear, multiple years in a row. It is still in use today. Here’s what remains of it.

dorothy

6. Casper the Friendly Ghost. A step up from the generic ghost option, Casper is the only cheap drugstore costume that remains lodged in my memory. It was basically a white garbage bag with a plastic mask and elastic for the back of the head. All I really remember from that year was having a really sweaty face.

5. Hobo clown. 12th grade. Halloween fell during Homecoming week festivities, and all the students wore their costumes to school. I took AP Government/Economics that year, and it just so happened that Halloween Day was the dreaded “debate day” for our class. I was not able to choose my topic, but instead was assigned to argue the position in favor of affirmative action. I would rather do almost anything but argue a peer in front of all my classmates, while attempting to display both passion and knowledge for my subject matter in order to get an A. I did my best to research and prepare, to anticipate what my opponent might say. Little did I know that my secret weapon would turn out to be my Halloween costume, the sad hobo clown. My mother the artist did a superb make-up job on me, so that my eyebrows and forehead were perpetually melancholy. When I shakily stood to argue the merits of affirmative action, my opponent dissolved in laughter every time she looked at my sad face, and she protested to the teacher that she could not possibly debate someone who looked so pitiful. Mrs. Robinson was not buying it, so the debate had to continue, unfortunately. My eyebrows gave me the unfair advantage.

4. Doll. By 16, I was really too old to be trick-or-treating. Still, some of my girlfriends wanted to dress up and hit the neighborhood, so I was a red-lipped doll in a ruffly square-dancing dress and petticoat (still getting some mileage today), pigtails, and painted-on freckles and eyelashes. We giggled a lot that night, caught somewhere between childhood and adulthood, not wanting to give up the one, yet so anxious to enter the other.

squaredancing

3. Witch. Age 11. 1987. My first boy-girl Halloween party. Oh, the excitement! I was a witch of the traditional sort. Pointy black hat and such. But my make-up! Oh, my make-up! Bright green eye shadow all the way to my brows, plus eyeliner and mascara. And then the ultimate accessory: red Lee press-on nails. I may have been a witch, but I felt like a model. A green eye-shadow model. For Revlon.

2. Dancer. Age 7 or so. Made by mom, I still have it. Back in the day, it also featured tappety-tap shoes and an enormous matching shiny blue hair bow, glued to a hairband.

dancer

1. Mrs. Incredible. Last night, the Incredibles family showed up at Trunk-or-Treat. Mr. and Mrs., and our superhero offspring, Violet (she of invisiblity and force-fields) and Dash (he of the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet ability to run.) Mr. I was razzed a bit by some for choosing to pass on the super-suit option of built-in muscles and abs that we found online, selecting instead a “modified” suit of T-shirt and mask, which we can all be thankful for. Mrs. I chose the modified option as well, after checking out some rather unfortunate photos of other Mrs. Incredibles in full garb on the web. Both Mr. and Mrs. were relieved to have found the T-shirts, which allowed for roomy, comfortable superhero-ing, while maintaining dignity. A good time was had by all! Ka-POW!

ABFAB Incredibles

10.24.2011

A Few Good Men

Last night was a family reunion, of sorts.

At our former church, my husband Cade frequently sang with a six-member vocal ensemble. He would tell you himself that singing with those guys was a huge blessing to him. Not only are they all musicians, but they are all friends, and the more they sang together, the more the music began to gel…and the more enjoyable it became for all of them.

One of the things he misses most about our life there is that group. It’s really too far of a drive for him to continue to participate with them on a regular basis.

But it wasn’t too far for them to come to him.

The buzz started when the posters went up. Practically every store front in town willingly advertised the “Few Good Men” concert everywhere you turned. And in a sleepy town like ours, it’s nice to know that there wasn’t a whole lot of competition for the night of Sunday night, October 23rd. Fifteen minutes before showtime, the crowd was slim, and admittedly, we were a bit concerned…but right on time, down to the wire, people began piling in. A big crowd sat and waited in the church gym, their curiosity evident. Nobody had ever attempted a “concert” in that gym before.

The guys sang for 90 minutes, and it was outstanding. The echoing gym acoustics were not an insurmountable challenge, as had been feared. Actually, it just made the atmosphere fun and light, punctuated by a few serious moments. Afterward, the entire crowd was invited for a supper with the group, provided by the church, and Cade and I were thrilled to see that some friends of ours from our former church had made the trek north for the concert. I loved seeing them all, and there was something kind of overwhelming and wonderful about all those faces from the old life showing up in my new life at one time. Sort of like how you feel at your wedding.

My cup runneth over.

Today I want to share with you all my favorite song that they did last night. It’s called “Daystar,” and features Cade on lead. (Of course it does. What did you expect?) But I think it would be my favorite even if it didn’t feature my hubs on lead. It’s a beautiful gospel song, imploring the light of Christ to lead…anywhere He opens up the door..in a dark, desperate world. That song has been our prayer as a family these past few months.

I hope it blesses you today.

10.13.2011

When “Ain’t” Creeps In

“Mama, I can’t do this no more,” my child sighs, pushing homework away.

My eyebrows shoot up. “What?”

“I just can’t do this no more.”

(Somebody hit the pause button, please.)

Here in this snapshot, we see deteriorating motivation to do homework. Not surprising, really. But deteriorating grammar? Very interesting, indeed. I doubt the child picked that up from me. Maybe it was a matter of testing the waters. But more than likely, it was a matter of the subconscious realizing that it’s a tiny bit easier to say “no more” than “anymore.” Gentle correction made…and we move on.

(Now fast forward to the next scene, a few days later. Push play.)

“I ain’t finished yet,” the child says, as I begin to remove the plate from the table.

(Now, somebody hit pause again.)

If my eyebrows shot up upon hearing “no more,” then they reach an extreme altitude here when “ain’t” is uttered. I probably even go into Boiled Egg Eye Mode (BEEM), a phenomenon that moms display when they turn the whites of their eyes into egg-like seriousness. Then I am reminded of a fun little poem I learned in my school days that comes in handy in this particular scene. I lug it up from the recesses of my memory and use it for the highly-regarded, time-honored teaching tool that it is…one that explains matter-of-factly that if you say the word ain’t, your life will immediately spin out of control and devolve into all manner of chaos and disaster. Nice.

It goes like this: “Don’t say ‘ain’t.’ Your mother will faint. Your sister will cry, and your daddy will sigh, and your grandpa will fall over in a bucket of paint.” (Some versions, the PG ones, even say that somebody will die. Others mention that your dog will call the FBI, and your grandma won’t make her pie, et cetera.) Not very subtle, but it gets the point across. It’s also wildly funny if you are between the ages of 5 and 10.

Again, the correction is made…and we move on.

I come from a family with no detectable accents at all, and I remember their amusement when I entered school and picked up some Southern-isms. I remember trying some things out, like dropping my jaw a bit when I said my. It became mah. Mah hair, mah clothes, and mah Kool-aid. “Right there” became rat thay-er. “I want” became “I wawnt.” I’m sure some double negatives and the aforementioned A-word cropped up a few times and were either gently corrected or subjected to that dreadful poem.

I like being a GRIT, and I am raising my own. When around other GRITS, I sometimes find my own dropped jaw ratcheting itself into high gear, and I can hear myself doing it, without even telling myself to do it. Funny how that happens. Funny how it’s happening to my own offspring, through no real effort of their own. Dropped jaws and genteel dialects are familiar, comfortable, and sweet-sounding to me.

But ain’t? Even GRITS have to draw the line somewhere. Ain’t has got to go. Quick, please. Before I faint.

10.08.2011

There is Always a Hole

Some people take exquisite nature photos and post them on their blogs.

If only I had a photo to display of the scene I am about to relate, then I would be clicking “insert picture” right about now. But alas, I had no camera with me, and it probably would not have captured the subject accurately anyway. So instead, I am going to share a word-photo today.

A few days ago, I was out on my morning walk-slash-halfhearted jog. The sky was dramatic that morning…the ushering-in of cool fall air and plenty of heavy, puffy, gray cloud-cover. Struggling up the killer hills near our house, I finally reached the gently-rolling stretch of road that leads me past the red-roofed barn and horse farm to the left. I always like getting to that place because, first, and most importantly, the killer hill is behind me, and, second, I can see the whole sky at one time. It just opens up before me like a scene in a Western. No obstacles to obscure my vision.

Here is what was interesting about it. One part of the sky, the part in front of me and over the barn, was dark and overcast. The opposite end of the sky…of the entire world, as far as I was concerned…was bright and glorious. Two opposing stories, playing themselves out in the sky simultaneously in that moment.

And in the middle of gray cloud-cover, over the barn, commanding my attention, was a literal hole in the sky. I slowed and came to a stop to examine it. (It’s not every day you see a hole in the sky.) It was as if God’s hands had reached down and dug a neat, little, perfectly round hole right there, prying the clouds out of the way, just big enough for some early morning sunlight to get through.

When I was little, I used to say, “The sun’s tryin’ to shine!” But this was not the case that day. The sun was having no trouble at all shining. It happened to be right behind that cloud-layer, penetrating that hole with power…stunningly beautiful rays that made their way all the way down to earth. Right there over the barn. It took my breath away.

You see, there is always a hole.

Whenever I am sitting in my car, waiting to turn left across an endless stream of traffic that seems like it will never let up, I remind myself, “There is always a hole in the traffic. Hang on. Don’t pull out in front of somebody foolishly. There is always a hole. Wait.” Without fail, it comes.

Whenever there is darkness that doesn’t seem to let up, God creates a hole. A way of escape, an encouragement for the journey, a rest for the soul, a deliverance. A ray of light that is powerful enough and bright enough to reach all the way to man, if he is willing to lift up his eyes and see it.

Without fail, it comes.

“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Romans 5:20

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