Dressing up for Halloween was always fun growing up.
I had my share of store-bought costumes, but also plenty of the “home-made” variety as well and I think, perhaps, those were always the best.
One of the first costumes I can remember is a store-bought Batman costume with a plastic cape and mask. What was great about it was the grey jumpsuit. You could layer warm clothes and even a coat under it and it looked like I had muscles. I had a Superman one just like it.
As you might imagine, I wore it a lot. Probably too much.
A couple of years ago, my brother had the costume framed and gave it to me for Christmas. He had it because back when all of us were much younger, I helped turn that Batman costume into a fantastic homemade Ghostbuster costume for him. The frame is in my office right now.
I remember a year it was bitterly cold outside and I went dressed as Clark Kent. I had a full suit on plus a full Superman costume on under. While other kids had a coat on over their costume (that always sucked), I was toasty in all my layers. I had on my regular glasses, but also a 30s fedora with “PRESS: Daily Planet” in the brim. Of course, my neighbors were still a bit confused. However, as soon as I opened my shirt and exposed the “S shield” everyone knew who I was. The glasses helped, mostly when I had to whip them off my face as I was about to turn into the Man of Steel.
Another successful costume was “Illinois” Jones. I had a bomber jacket, faked three-day growth of beard, fedora, whip, and a giant plastic spider on my shoulder. Indiana Jones hated snakes. For Illinois Jones, it was spiders.
In college, the goal was to figure out a costume that wasn’t too bulky or too creepy so you could still chat with the girls who inevitably decided “Halloween Party” meant “sluts on parade party.” Ahh, college.
My best college costume, by far, was an oversized Def Leppard shirt, shorts, and my left arm tucked inside the shirt and behind my back and my right hand holding a drum stick. I was immediately identified as that one-armed drummer from Def Leppard. Perfect.
My favorite Halloween memory is the year I dressed up as a crazy mental patient. I had on one of my Dad’s old white pharmacy smocks and plenty of fake blood all over my face, smock, and hands. Back then I had wild hair that would make Einstein proud and it got teased like never before.
I grunted and generally acted like I was out of my mind. Everybody loved it.
On that particular Halloween, my Dad and I decided to head to my grandma’s, his mother’s, house and surprise her. She lived on a very busy stretch of road and cars tended to ignore the 25 mph signs.
Dad pulled into the driveway and said I should knock on the door and surprise her. I knocked on the door and grunted and growled. However, my sweet and loving grandma took one look at me and just knew I had been hit by a car. She took me inside and I hid my face. She put me on the couch and went into the kitchen to get some wash rags.
It was at that point, the doorbell rang again and my grandma hurried over to answer the door, probably thinking it was the driver of the speeding car who had just hit me. Instead, it was my Dad who was ushered into the house quickly to take a look at the strange person who knocked on the door.
Finally, as she was about to administer a warm washcloth did she realize it was her grandson playing a trick and her son standing in the same room encouraging it.
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake!” was all she got out before the waves of laughter came.