I dreaded Halloween when my boys were at the trick or treat age. Especially the month leading up to Halloween, when they’d start their costume wish list. “I want to be Spiderman!” announces one. “Mom, please-please-please can I be a Power Ranger?” pleads the other. And while I’m figuring out how the heck I’m going to pull off these requests, Boy 1 decides a Ninja Turtle would be way cooler and Boy 2 has also moved on, excitedly imagining himself a swashbuckling pirate. The masquerade ideas pile up like pumpkins ripe for the harvest.
No matter what character they eventually decide on, I have little faith in my abilities to deliver. I don’t sew, so making a costume is a non-starter. Face painting is an art form I haven’t come close to mastering: my efforts usually involve scrabbling through my makeup drawer, pulling out black eye pencil and pink blush, then liberally applying both. No matter what the character was intended to be, my sons inevitably ended up looking like hookers.
But one Halloween during my single-parenting years was particularly dreadful. With a full time job, little money and aforementioned lack of costuming creativity and craftiness, October 31st just seemed to come ‘round awfully quickly. Too fast for one important decision to have been made: Boy 1 – who’s maybe 10 at the time – doesn’t have a costume. Upset boy. Guilty mom.
The first desperate solution involves a 4:00 p.m. dash to Zeller’s. Hope of finding the perfect costume (ok, any costume) crumbles as I near the “seasonal section” of the store and see the almost-bare rack, save for a bunny costume for a two year old.
The second desperate solution involves some quick thinking and a mad scramble through drawers and closets. And the conversation unfolds:
Me: Go put on your black jeans and a white turtleneck.
Boy (sniffling): Why?
Me: I’ve got a great costume idea. Trust me.
Boy (puffy eyes narrowing): What is it?
Me (stalling): You’ll see. Just put on your black jeans and t-shirt.
Boy: (hiccupping): Okay…
Boy returns five minutes later, dressed in jeans and shirt. I am ready with a clutch of safety pins and the makings of his costume coiled like snakes around my ankles.
Me: Ok, stand still while I pin these on you.
Boy: What are you doing?
Me: I’m creating a really cool costume for you. It will be awesome!
Boy: You’re pinning belts on me.
Me: Uh-huh. Now, don’t move; I don’t want to poke you with a safety pin.
I stand back to admire my handiwork: a dozen of my colourful belts hang by pinned buckles from the front and back of his small shoulders and fall to his knees. He looks down at the shiny strips of plastic and leather that with a look that can only be described as dubious and well, disturbed.
Boy: Mom, what IS this costume?
Me: You’re BELT MAN!
Boy: I’m belt man?
Me: Yes, but it’s not ‘belt man’, it’s BELT MAN!!! You have to say it like you have super powers.
Boy: But what super powers does belt man have?
Me: You waist the bad guys! You never buckle under pressure! Crime fighting’s a cinch for you! Watch out bad guys, it’s… BELT MAN!!!
Boy: I don’t get it.
Me: BELT MAN is a new superhero. But you have to make it sound exciting. It makes a difference how you say it. When you go to someone’s door to trick or treat and they ask you what you are, you shout, “I’M BELT MAN!!!” Try it.
Boy: I’m belt man.
Me: Close, but a little more excitement? You have to really BELT it out. Listen to how I say it: I’m BELT MAN!!!
Boy: Mom, I don’t think anyone will believe belt man is a superhero. Even if I say it like that.
Me: Trust me. You’ll be a Halloween hit!
More discussion ensued as I coached him on the vital importance of the level of energy and enthusiasm he needed to convince everyone he was a superhero. Still skeptical but out of time and options, he took the pillow case treat bag from me, donned a clown wig and stealed himself for the door knocking – and inevitable comments – that awaited.
Back home a couple hours later, he emptied his hefty haul on the living room floor, sorting the good stuff (pop and chocolate bars) from the gross stuff (granola bars and apples).
Me: So, how did it go?
Belt Man: Ok I guess. One man said I was a strapping young fella and a lady wanted to know where I bought the green belt.
Me: Sorry about all this, sweetheart. I feel really bad that I left your costume so late.
Belt Man: That’s ok, Mom. It was better than being a hooker.
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