The first and the last Halloweens that the kids dressed up for together were not as coordinated as the in-between ones, because we were just finding out what the many possibilities were (first) and I was exhausted and out of energy by the arduous task of making complex costumes (last). But still we had fun. Well, mostly. Not everyone, not ever time. There was that one year that I ruined it for Charlie.
In 2003, when the kids were ten, I didn’t plan months ahead like I usually did. I had been tapering off, letting the kids contribute a lot more to the execution of the costumes. There were a few ideas that I’d had but never developed, so I piqued the kids interest with them and quickly got their buy-in. I wanted to do something like “optical illusions” where things would not be as they appeared.
It worked well for everyone but poor Charlie. I mean it looked pretty cool. But he was miserable. He was an upside-down man. Which meant, he had to walk around with his arms in the air. Like all night. He couldn’t even hold his treat-or-treat bucket, so I held it for him. Which was fine, because I needed to stay right next to him to keep him from falling down because right when we started going door-to-door, the worst Halloween weather we’d encountered in our history of Halloween’s together blew in. An ice and snow storm dropped in on us, which made for a pretty night—if you were inside by your fireplace looking out at the sparkling landscape and twinkling cascade of snowflakes—but on the outside, it was absolutely frigid and the sheet of ice over everything made walking treacherous at best, and I’m sure would have proven fatal if we’d stayed out even one minute longer.
The way you are an upside-down man is you put trousers on your top half, with your arms up in the legs and shoes on your hands, and a coat on your lower half, with your legs through the arms and gloves on your feet. With a fake head hanging between your knees from the neck of the coat, you look like you’re walking on your hands everywhere you go. The biggest problem with this (besides the obvious keeping-your-arms-in-the-air-all-night-long problem) is you can’t balance and maneuver when your mom makes you trick-or-treat on sheer ice and all you want to do is go home. You feel so precarious that you’re miserable and hate it and you quietly beg to quit but your mom says no no it’s fine, you’re okay, let’s keep going and it’s really not fine and so it ruins your entire Halloween for 2003. Even if you get the most Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups ever.
And sadly on that night, I didn’t even get a good picture of Charlie walking (and slipping) around everywhere on his hands, because I wasn't using my good camera and the disposable one didn't do well. But of course, even without a great photo, the evening was so miserable, I—and especially he--will never forget that wretched night.
So for my #10 pick of our Halloween costumes, I’m going to pick our “optical illusion” costumes, one because it’s memorable, and two, because actually, they were pretty cool, especially for last minute jobs. Molly was Anne Boleyn, and though it wasn’t on yet for the picture, a nametag was on her lapel that said, “Hello, My Name Is Anne Boleyn.” Pierce was a modern-day headless horseman, without the horse, because it’s just too hard to ride a horse on ice. And Spencer was a war vet, being carried in a parade by his friend, whom we named Bob. Look at the picture. It will make sense then. And Charlie, poor Charlie, he gets the honorable mention on top of everything, because sadly, his upside-down man scarred him for life, I’m sure.
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