We were invited to the Halloween party weeks ago, but everyone in the family left the costumes to the last minute. An hour before the party, Shaggy Hair, Skater Boy, and With-a-Why were still just lounging around in front of the fire looking very much like their own selves when I asked, "Aren't you guys dressing up? It's a costume party. It says so on the invitation."
Shaggy Hair shrugged. Little kids get very excited about going to costume parties with their parents, but for a teenage boy, the idea inspires about the same level of enthusiasm as a trip to the dentist. My husband, who had had a difficult week dealing with his mother, was taking a nap. He told me to wake him up five minutes before we left, assuring me that is all the time it would take for him to pull together a costume.
I admit, I hadn't planned a costume either, but I did have the one secret ingredient to making a cool Halloween costume: safety pins. For me, buying safety pins constitutes planning ahead. I figured I would come up with an idea and get dressed first in hopes that my costume would inspire enthusiasm amongst the rest of my sluggish family.
The idea I came up with was kind of lame, but at least it was simple. I put on black pants and a black shirt, and then pinned socks to my legs and arms. I decided that colorful ski socks looked cooler than the white cotton socks. When I started pinning With-a-Why's underwear to my shoulder, Shaggy Hair stopped me in horror. "MOM! YOU CANNOT WEAR OUR UNDERWEAR IN PUBLIC."
Well, fine. I decided that their underwear was boring anyway. I went into my daughter's room and my own drawer for prettier panties, choosing bright colors like red and hot pink that would show up against the black.
"Have you figured out what I am?" I asked the boys as I walked through the living room, with random socks and panties clinging to my body. I was prepared to give all kinds of hints.
"I don't even want to know," Shaggy Hair said, sinking lower into his chair. Skater Boy gave me one horrified look and chose to say nothing.
So much for rallying enthusiasm.
The boys did come to the party, all of them grabbing the random masks and capes we have at our house. I can't say that any of them dressed as anything specific; mainly, they looked like a clump of boys dressed in black and red, with creepy alien faces. My husband, disappointed he couldn't find his Evil Politician mask, grabbed a cowboy hat and a pair of crunches left from the time I broke my leg, and said it was his lame cowboy costume. I was actually kind of relieved he couldn't be an Evil Politician. He is very good at imitating politicians, but once he gets on a roll, it's hard for him to turn off the imitation, and then I am stuck going home with someone who sounds like The Worst President We've Ever Had. Not something that usually leads to a night of romance.
Boy in Black called to say that the second half of his Ultimate Frisbee tournament was cancelled because of the weather and that he was back in Snowstorm City. I told him we'd pick him up and that he had five minutes to come up with a costume. Obliging, he pinned a long towel to his shoulders and put on a pair of sunglasses. Once he was at the party, he kept adding to the costume by taking items from people who were getting tired of wearing their outfits. I saw him as one point with a long black wig and a witch's hat. He gave his analysis of the costumes he had seen on campus: "The theme for women seems to be Sexy Cowgirl, Sexy Nurse, Sexy Whatever. But they've got this really weird idea about what sexy is."
My daughter drove in from campus to join the party late. Wearing an old-fashioned dress from the children's section of a thrift store, with white tights and her hair in a pony tail, she looked like a little girl from another era. Since she is tiny, the dress fit her fine, and the effect could have been cute. Except that she decided to be a zombie little girl. Her pale skin was chalked even whiter, red dripped from the sides of her mouth, dark circles were drawn under her eyes, and a jump rope hung around her neck in a noose. I can't even watch horror shows because they give me nightmares so seeing my daughter transformed into a character in a horror flick was beyond creepy.
About half the people at the party were able to guess correctly what my costume was. Some were puzzled even when I told them. Many of the guests, well, not counting the ones related to me, had rented or bought fairly elaborate costumes: a nun, a Spiderman, a devil, that kind of thing. It's very strange to meet people for the first time when they are dressed head-to-toe as someone else. My kids abandoned their masks and capes when they discovered a ping pong table in the basement.
What's ridiculous is that when slips of paper were passed around and a vote was taken, I won the prize for best individual costume. I am not sure why. Maybe it's because people are more likely to vote for a costume that is homemade. Maybe it's because people felt sorry for me. Or maybe people think it's cool to wear lingerie pinned all over your body.