Thursday, October 29, 2009

This title is actually for a different entry.

I had to become a professional costumer. It wasn't my first career choice, but I failed the height requirement to become Cher.

Just pausing for a moment to consider how many people have decided that I'm a drag queen after reading that opening paragraph.

I am neither of these people.

The majority of my professional career has been an ongoing attempt to compensate for the greatest disappointment of my life. It occurred when I was four. That's your first clue that I am not writing from a rational place.

It was my first Halloween. That's your second clue.

I don't know how my parents described the thing, but evidently my imagination took a lot of liberties when filling in a lot of gaps. I was going to get into a costume, and I was going to go outside, and everyone in the whole neighbourhood would be outside, and they'd all be wearing costumes too, and we'd all have a party. There'd be dancing and games and decorations and I couldn't wait to find out what else.

You're already getting a good idea of how terribly ill fated this was from it's inception. But wait! It gets worse! I hadn't even seen my costume yet.

I knew what costumes were. I loved costumes. They wore costumes in the Wizard of Oz. Glenda the Good Witch, now that broad had a costume! I was a reasonable, rational child, mind you. I didn't get my hopes up that high. I knew four year olds were supporting cast, not feature players. I would be satisfied with pretty much anything the chorus girls wore in any of the musicals my mother used to watch on Sunday afternoons. That's along the lines of what I figured a novice Halloweener would be outfitted in. Surely you didn't get feature dancer quality costumes until you were at least five. Fine with me. Anything would be an improvement on the big, brown, uncomfortable snow suit I usually had to wear when we went out.

The situation started to deteriorate as soon as my mother packed me into my big, brown, uncomfortable snowsuit. Not good - the primary caregiver was malfunctioning. Snow suit on Halloween? What would be next? Garbage for Christmas? Scrambled egg hunts for Easter? Cake for Thanksgiving? Well yeah I could live with that, but no! No snowsuits on Halloween!

"No, your costume goes on over your snow suit. It's cold outside."

Well dammit but, well, okay. After all, Glenda could have been wearing snowpants under her grand confectionary couture. Hell, she could have had a beach umbrella and two small men playing checkers under there. Yeah. I could pull off a snow suit as long as the costume was big enough.

Hee hee - Munchkins tickle!

My mother produced a small felt cape. And nothing else.

"What's that?"

"That's your little red riding hood!"

"What's my costume?"

"Little Red Riding Hood!"

"What am I dressed as?"

"You're Little Red Riding Hood."

"I'm wearing a little red riding hood."

"Yes, that's your costume.

"So that makes me a little red riding hood?"

"Little Red Riding Hood is your costume."

"Because I'm wearing a little red riding hood?"


This went on for some time, with my mother never figuring out that I had no idea Little Red Riding Hood was the name of a person, or that my four year old brain was not well enough developed to make that conceptual leap on it's own. Nobody I had never met had been named after an item of clothing. I thought I had just become the first. Why my mother had decided to name me after a small hood I had no idea, but what really puzzled me was how she conceptualized that small chunk of fabric as my entire costume. Clearly it would have been more appropriate to call me Big Brown Snow Suit. It really didn't matter, though. The costume sucked either way.

Never mind. At least I still had the party.

I was so prepared to be dazzled I didn't even pause at the giant bowl of candy by the door. I'd deal with that later. Opening that front door was more exciting than Christmas! Well, until it opened, obviously.

There were no decorations, no music, and nobody was dancing. There was just a strange teenage girl I'd never met before. She took me by the hand and she took me away from my mother.

Painfully shy children hate it when you do that.

She took me away from my mother and took me to a strange house. She made me ring the bell. She made me talk to people. Then the really bad thing happened. She made me accept food from them.

Another fun thing about me. As a child, I would only eat food from my own house. I'd been offered all sorts of candies and other delicious food at other people's houses on occasions when my family was visiting, and I always very politely refused with "No thank you, we have that at home." My parents had done a very good job of teaching me manners. They had also, unfortunately, done a very good job of teaching me that some adults like to feed children poison. Of course I actually did think we had every kind of food ever invented at home - both of my parents grew up in the depression, it's really quite likely we did - but I wasn't being entirely truthful with my hosts. The real reason I wouldn't eat their food was because the thought of eating their food repulsed me.

Child poisoning bastards.

Fun and games were clearly not on the agenda at all. My friends were all out, but unlike every other day in our incredibly safe neighbourhood they weren't running around and playing with each other. Every single one of them was with an adult and being led around by the hand. The possibility for fun didn't even exist - we were under more intense supervision than we'd ever been in our young lives. None of the adults (who I bitterly noted weren't even dressed up at all) were even taking us over to each other to say hi - just keeping to themselves and marching dutifully from door to door to make their children ask for food.

So that was Halloween. Getting stuffed into an ugly, uncomfortable snow suit, dragged around by a stranger, forced to talk to grown ups, not being allowed to play with your friends, and having to haul around a bag of poison all night. I was a bitter, bitter four year old. I just wanted it all to be over so I could get home to my mommy and eat the candy we had sitting by the door.

I really thought my mother was kidding when she told me she'd given all our candy away to other people's children. I really did.


Brian Miller said...

little red riding hood...oh my. what a traumatic halloween...i dont know to laugh or cry...smiles.

Fire Byrd said...

Fantastic post the right mixture of pathos and humour
The last paragraph makes you aware of how dangerous Halloween is!
What a traumatic first experience, hope it hasn't damaged you for life!

Gaston Studio said...

What a memory to carry around with you for life. Did you need therapy? LOL

Kate said...

Wow can't work out if I am feeling sympathetic or just laughing. Cool post

Kate x

IB said...

I must admit, I almost didn't get past the Cher/drag-queen photos (shudder). But I'm glad I pressed-on because this is a funny, funny post.

You have a great way with a story. Much better than me (which I may hate you for...just a little).


Cassie said...

If you were little red riding hood, they were supposed to supply you with a basket of goodies(from your house) to take to grandma's house. Geez, no wonder you didn't get it.

Lindsey Himmler said...

This really made me laugh. I'm always so surprised by people who don't remember what it was like to be a kid.

Krimmyk said...

Too bad your 1st Halloween had to be so tramatic! I hope ones afterward made up for age 4's.

I was about 8 when my mother finally informed me to only eat candy wrapped before it was bought from the store. This was the same year we made popcorn balls to hand out for trick or treating. I knew irony, but was smart enough to shut my mouth.

Captain Dumbass said...

Ah, snowsuits at Halloween. I'm so glad I don't have to subject my kids to that. Of course, they'll still be wearing six layers of sweat pants and long sleeved shirts under their Spider Man outfits tomorrow night.

tattytiara said...

Haha, just tell 'em that the layers look like muscles, Cap'n.

Bella said...

hahaha! great post! I can't remember any of my halloween experiences they were soooo bad obviously...otherwise I could remember right?

but then again somebody called today and asked for CARES...which I learned is just one digit off from my number, and they asked, what did I dial? I said heck I don't know... what is my number?! LOL

I bet they wished they had called somebody who CARED?!

cabin + cub said...

omg.. do you have a pic? how cute would that look.. a big brown snow suit with a red hood!

it always rains here, so many of my costumes were "costume + umbrella and boots"... and often the coat would be overtop.

Anonymous said...

It's making me wonder what traumas I have foisted on my own children!

Very overrated, halloween:)

Ron said...

What a FAAABULOUS post!

You are one great storyteller!

And when I got to the photo of Glenda and your caption underneath - I HOWLED!

That was brilliant!

Thanks for the great story and laugh!

Happy Halloween, Red!

tee, hee!

courtney said...

OMG that's the funniest post i've read in a while. do you mind if i re-post a section of it on my blog tomorrow and link back to you?

blognut said...

I want to know how many years of therapy it took for you to get all that out in the open.


tattytiara said...

I'm very flattered, courtney, by all means.

M.M.E. said...

I live in North Dakota and had the dreaded snow-filled Halloweens. One year I went as a snow tiger, which means I wore a tiger nose mask and my snowsuit, scarf, mitten, and hat. A bit imaginative for a 5-year-old, if I do say so myself.

Being Brazen said...

ha ha ha!

Ps - mine and my boyfs halloween costume photos are up on my blog today :)

Anonymous said...

Hah LOVE your story here!! So funny and well told (:

You poor child... :D

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