October 31, 2005

Duct tape, aluminum foil, and a little imagination

One of our Halloween traditions involves making costumes at the last possible minute. My long time readers know that I can make a pirate costume in fifteen minutes. But this year, I decided to be pro-active and help With-a-Why make his costume ahead of time. We started on Thursday, days ahead of time.

I know there are crafty parents who can whip out a sewing machine and make some kind of spectacular costume. I've met people like that. I am not one of them. I am the parent who will help my child hastily assemble a costume out of stuff we've got lying around the house. I trust the crowd at the Halloween parade to have a little imagination. And if people aren't imaginative enough to appreciate a homemade costume, it is NOT MY FAULT.

With-a-Why said he wanted to be a robot. Not any robot, though. Boy in Black convinced him that he wanted to be Bender. Some of you readers might already know this, but Bender is the robot on the animated television show Futurama, a show that apparently does not count as a television show in my house because Boy in Black downloaded episodes and watched them on the computer. See, it's not a television show if you don't watch it on a television. A convenient loophole in the summertime no-television rule. And Boy in Black converted With-a-Why to a Futurama fan by claiming that they were doing some brotherly bonding at the computer. He's got the idea that I will just cave in whenever I hear the word bonding.

The idea of making a costume to imitate something on a TELEVISION SHOW pained me deeply. But I decided to sacrifice my own ideals because my son seemed excited about the idea. And besides, I was tired, and the costume seemed like a simple one. A robot, I figured, was a classic Halloween costume, one that I remembered from my own childhood. And of course, I figured that Boy in Black would help, and it would be a good bonding experience.

Every good Halloween costume begins with duct tape, and we had a whole roll of grey duct tape from the dollar store. A helpful blogger suggested aluminum foil, and soon we were on a roll.

Making a costume with little kids is really fun because you can impress them with simple skills. Making a costume in a roomful of teenagers is somewhat different. Here is how our conversation went:

Me: Okay, let's just cut this poster board in two and wrap it in aluminum foil. I'll put strings on so they hang in front and back.
Boy in Black: But that's a rectangle!
Me: Yeah ... so what?
Boy in Black: You can't have rectangles. Bender is made of cylinders.
Me: (Glaring) Use your imagination.
With-a-Why: (in a robotic voice) I am Bender. Please insert Girder.
Me: Oh, that's good. You sound like a robot.
Shaggy Hair: Oh, you might not want him talking like Bender.
Me: What? Let's everyone be supportive here.

Boy in Black: What are you doing now?
Me: If I wrap the arms of his shirt in duct tape, they will look just like cylinders. Exactly. Like. Cylinders.
Boy in Black: I am not sure about the aluminum foil.
Me: What? It looks great.
Boy in Black: Bender is not made of aluminum.
With-a-Why: He is 30 percent iron, 40 percent dolamite.
Boy in Black: 40 percent ungsten.
With-a-Why: Don't forget the .04 percent nickel impurity.
Me: That is more than 100 percent.
Boy in Black: (patiently) Yes, that is why it's funny.
Shaggy Hair: She just doesn't get the funny parts of the show.

Boy in Black: The aluminum foil makes him look like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz.
Shaggy Hair: Or leftovers maybe.
Me: (Silent glare.)
Boy in Black: (hastily) Oh, the aluminum foil is a great idea. Just. Perfect.

With-a-Why: What are you doing?
With-a-Why: (to his brothers, in shock and horror) She is putting her leg in my shirt!
Me: I just need to hold the fabric out so that the duct tape won't be on too tight.
With-a-Why: You expect me to wear that now?
With-a-Why: After your leg has been in there?
Me: Don't be ridiculous.
Shaggy Hair: How are you going to get that off?
Me: What?
Me: Ahhhh! Someone help pull this off my leg!

phone rings
Me: Hello.
Daughter: Hey.
Me: I've got a shirt stuck on my leg with duct tape.
Daughter: (laughing) What?
Me: I am helping With-a-Why with his Halloween costume.
Daughter: What? Are they having the party and parade tomorrow? On Friday? That doesn't make sense.
Me: We are making the costume ahead of time.
Daughter: AHEAD OF TIME? You've never done that before.
Me: Ahhhh. I am going to just rip this off.
Daughter: What is he going to be?
Me: That robot from Futurama.
Daughter: Oh, that is so cute.
Daughter: (to roommate) My little brother is going to be Bender.
Daughter: I ought to bring him to a frat party. They would love him here. I could just see him playing beer pong.
Me: He is even talking in a robot voice.
Daughter: Yeah, you might not want him talking like Bender.
Daughter: Can you check my closet for that black dress I wore to the piano recital? I've got a Halloween party tonight and I am going to be Cruella DeVille.
Me: I can't walk right now.
I hand off the phone to someone else.

Me: Okay, let's stuff the arms and legs with newspaper while we put on the duct tape. The leg thing didn't work so well.
With-a-Why: I can't get this over my head.
Boy in Black: Too. Much. Duct. Tape.
Blonde Niece: Duct tape has a non-metallic luster. I am not sure how I feel about that.
Me: (ignoring everyone) I think he looks just like a robot.
Blonde Niece: Shouldn't it look like metal?
Me: It's in the future. Use your imagination!

Me: (to With-a-Why) Try walking and talking like a robot.
With-a-Why: (in a robot voice) Up yours, chump!
Me: What?
Shaggy Hair: Uh, that is how Bender talks.
With-a-Why: (in a robot voice) Kiss my shiny metal ass.
Me: What?
Boy in Black: Maybe you ought to be a silent robot. I'm not sure the nuns at school are ready for Bender.
With-a-Why: (in a robot voice) I am taking the next pimp-mobile out of here.


listmaker said...

(in her best robotic voice) I'm. laughing. my. ass. off.

Too, too funny. He looks great; if he came to my door, I'd give him double candy.

Scrivener said...

What a great costume!

And what a great Halloween makeover of the blog! Let me guess, more of Dr MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmagic's ™ed handiwork? He should really hire himself out for this sort of work!

Phantom Scribbler said...

Seriously, did Dr. MMMMMMmmmmmmmm do this? Because it looks incredibly good. Genius, whoever is responsible is a genius.

And jo(e) -- this is comic genius. I wish your baby Bender was trick-or-treating on my street tonight. I'd offer him a whole bag of candy wrapped in tin foil and duct tape.

Songbird said...

What a fantastic costume!
And I love the new look, although it made me jump at first.

BrightStar said...

okay, this story made me laugh so hard I cried!!!!

KathyR said...

Triple candy if he says "kiss my shiny metal ass" to either of my nearest neighbors.

Dying about the whole "shirt + leg" thing.

Danny said...

Homemade costumes rock!

Homemade costumes that are good really rock!

Homemade costumes that are good and come with a story are the best!

Rev Dr Mom said...

jo(e), you rock as a mom. I wish Bender/With-a-why was trick-or-treating in my neighborhood,too.

We didn't have ANY trick-or-treaters--not one :( I sort of suspected that would be the case. My driveway is long and dark.

And my 13 yo lamented loudly that this is the 2nd year that he didn't get to go trick-or-treating...although he can't remember why he didn't go last year, becasue he had the opportunity (my memory is that he got huffy and about something and hung out in his room while his friends went out). Ah...adolescence.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Oh, and I totally get the whole "it doesn't count as TV if you don't watch it on TV" thing. We don't even OWN a TV and Sk8tr boy (my 13 yo) knows an incredible amount about TV--how? From downloads and DVDs watched on the laptop.

Jane Dark said...

Oh, this was hilarious. Thank you for sharing it.

ccw said...

So funny!

He looks great!

delagar said...

Heh -- that was great! I'm jealous of your ability to create costumes, by the way.

liz said...

He looks so great, and so does your blog.

I'm very, very impressed.

Rana said...

Oh, excellent! He does indeed look like a robot, if not exactly like Bender.

It could be worse: one year, my brother wanted to be a head of garlic. Yes, you read that right. A. Head. Of. Garlic.

(It's amazing what can be done with muslim and a magic marker.)

Bad Alice said...

Oh oh oh. Kiss my shiny metal ass. I'm rolling on the floor here. I have got to check out Futurama, minus my kiddies.

I suddenly recall driving Five-year-old to some event, and she said, "Mom, you know what my favorite TV show is?" "What?" I asked. "Sex and the City!" I swear, folks, that she had never ever even glimpsed an episode.

Kathryn said...

Jo(e) you have single handedly changed forever my attitude to trick or treating...(which hasn't ever really worked over here...we just don't get the fun bit, and too many big kids set out to be really scary, which is horrible).
However, ANYTHING which can produce a situation as funny as that has got to be worth it...you really do have a huge gift as a comic writer! Thanks for the laugh...oh, and WithaWhy looks great. Hope he had a wonderful time.

Teri said...

What a great costume! And an even better story! I didn't think a halloween costume could make me laugh so hard.

halloweenlover said...

love it love it love it. This is what I am talking about. The Halloween spirit is alive and well over here.

Now, you know I can't pass off my title as Queen Halloweenlover, but I'll have to think up some kind of prize. Kudos! Hope your leg is okay now!

New Kid on the Hallway said...

He looks so great! And you know, I think even without the description, I'd have totally got that he was Bender. (I was hysterical about how Bender has to be made of cylinders, because that was my own reaction to the idea of rectangular panels!)

Colleen said...

That was wonderful!
I hope his Bender voice didn't get him into too much trouble!

RussianViolets said...

Ok, I'm just howling over here, and the costume looks great!!!

Running2Ks said...

I love the journey to the costume just as much as the result!

CarpeDM said...

Oh my God. I first read the pirate story and am laughing in the squeaky laugh you use when you're trying to make sure your roommate doesn't hear you and think you're even more of a freak then she already does.

And then I read this and laughed a even high squeaky laugh and almost fell out of my chair and you are brilliant, may I please blogroll you?

Ciona said...

I'm a first-time visitor to your blog, and this entry has me intrigued . . . You're HILARIOUS!

I'll be back . . .

Suzanne said...

Not just laughing here -- guffawing is more like it! What a great story, and the result is just terrific.

Elysian said...

I love your writing! It sounded like a fun(ny) day with the kids. And the costume looks great...bravo! :)