How was your Halloween? Mine was nice. Went trick-or-treating with my grandchildren in Shandon, and they had a good time, and the weather was nice. My wife stayed at home and tended the door, which made me feel guilty, of course…
And then I came home and watched the Rangers whip up on the underserving Diamondbacks in Game 4. A perfect cap to the evening. I had worried about having missed the first half of the game, but then I saw that the boys from Texas were ahead 10-1. I’m so proud of them that they don’t need me to actually be watching.
But I was thinking about costumes, and how they’ve changed over time. While walking about with my son and daughter-in-law, I bored them with my thoughts on the matter. So why should y’all escape their fates?
On my way into Shandon, I saw something I hadn’t seen before, and was impressed — a kid, probably 8 or 9 years old, in an astronaut costume. It was obviously store-bought, and quite nice. All plastic, but the look was good. It was an old-school suit, from the days when astronauts were heroes — white, with the (in this case soft, and I hope not airtight) helmet and everything. A real, miniature John Glenn. Or at least Gordon Cooper.
And it hit me that back in the day when all the boys that age might have wanted to dress as an astronaut (I was that kid’s age when Glenn went up), there were no nice-looking prefab astronaut costumes to be had. And such a thing was hard to improvise.
Back then, we usually did improvise, and the results were unimpressive. A pirate was a standard fallback for me (which means I was pleased that one of my granddaughters chose that approach last night). Of course, we weren’t looking to win prizes; we were out for candy. We were a mercenary lot.
You could buy prefab costumes back then, but they were all pretty inadequate. When I was about four or five, I was excited that my mother let me get an official Bugs Bunny costume from a store. When I got it out and put it on, I was deeply disappointed. You know, one of those nylon things that covered the front of your body and tied with a string at the neck. And some rabbit ears for my head. I think the body-length covering said “Bugs Bunny” on it — like the real Bugs would wear a sign with his name on it. I knew I would fool no one. I had practiced my “What’s up, Doc?” in vain.
After that, I made my own. But I was never terribly creative. Kids today are way more creative. The granddaughter who went with “pirate” this time went as her ancestress Elspeth, the confessed witch in 17th-century Scotland. It took some explaining, but what a great concept! Her twin sister went as her own mother. At that time, my attorney daughter was a lobbyist. That took some explaining, too. But that was great — they spent time talking about people who meant something to them. And when one of them turned to “pirate” this time, it was much nicer than any pirate costume I ever put together.
My youngest granddaughter kind of blew everybody away by dressing as Walter White from “Breaking Bad” — complete with a bald cap that she got from a Halloween store (harrumph; we didn’t have such stores in my day). But the rest she did herself, and it was great.
As I say, they’re more creative. But even the kids who are NOT creative had way more options for going out and buying costumes that are worth the effort — like the astronaut kid.
I was reminded this morning of how bad we were back in the day, when “Ron Ziegler” posted a couple of pictures on the @dick_nixon Twitter feed. (I’m a big fan of that feed.) They showed the president greeting trick-or-treaters. And the costumes looked like what I might have devised — pretty lame, although they seem to be having fun:
Of course, Nixon dressed as himself, and it was pretty effective. Very scary. And nice try, bloody kid. Oh, and probably the best of those was the pirate — as I’ve suggested, it can be a good choice.
Anyway, I just wondered whether y’all notice the same things these days: Costumes that make you look back on your childhood and feel inadequate.
If so, perhaps you make up for it by being creative in your household decorations nowadays. Like some of those folks in Shandon…