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.
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.
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.
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!