For weeks now, both of our granddaughters had been asking when we were going to the store so they could run through the racks picking out that perfect Halloween costume.
Little One wants to be a witch, but only if she is a good witch. Sweet Caroline has chosen this year to scare the neighborhood as the only red-headed ghost in town.
After being asked ten times in just one day, I finally brought the badgering to an end with a surprise statement. As they stood still, wide-eyed in disbelief, I repeated, “Yes, we always made our costumes for Halloween.” Had I known what would happen an hour later, I never would have told them this story.
While we lived on Flamingo Street, money didn’t grow on trees. A silly statement for sure ‘cause all us kids knew leaves grew on trees, but that didn’t keep Dad from saying money didn’t at least once a week.
So, when it came to store-bought Halloween costumes, unless we actually could find that elusive money tree, that wasn’t going to happen around our house. Besides, each year we were happy to make our own. It ensured ours would be unique on all of Flamingo and, perhaps, garner a little more candy from the adults due to our originality. One year, this strategy yielded so much candy I had to have help carrying my candy haul home.
That was the year Goofy Steve went as a human Christmas tree. Outfitted completely with pine branches, ornaments, tinsel, and even a star on top of his head, he really looked like a tree.
Bubba Hanks, the largest kid on Flamingo, went as a giant grape. Big Brother James was Frankenstein, Older Brother Richard itched and scratched through the entire night wearing a homemade werewolf costume, and Twin Brother Mark was Casper the Irritating Ghost. He was supposed to be a friendly ghost, but all night he kept tripping over his sheet. To keep from falling, he’d grab one of us. In a word, all night he was irritating. Me? That’s the year I started out as a mummy, but ended the night wearing a very different costume.
For some reason, Mom wouldn’t let us cut a sheet up for bandages, so I used toilet paper. It took an entire roll to wrap my legs. With another roll, I wrapped my body. James and Richard wrapped my arms, neck and head using two more rolls. One look in the mirror confirmed I was going to be the best mummy that ever limped up and down Flamingo begging for candy.
A little past 6, using a pillowcase for a bag, I started limping after my brothers … and a little before 7, it started to rain. Frankenstein, the itchy Werewolf, the giant grape, the walking Christmas tree, and even the irritating ghost were all unaffected by the cooling rain. I, the toilet paper-wrapped mummy, had a quick and very soggy metamorphosis.
I spent the rest of the night as the first human spitball. The other kids made fun of me, but behind every door that opened were grownups that felt so sorry for me my pillowcase soon started to fill. By the end of the night, Twin Brother Mark had to help me carry it home. It was the biggest haul any kid had on Halloween.
I learned several things from that night. First, sometimes when it rains in your life, things can turn out even better than they were before. And second, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a night full of fun. In my case, it only took four rolls of toilet paper.
So what happened an hour after I told our granddaughters this story? The girls thought it would be fun to recreate the mummy costume. Only this time instead of four, it took six rolls to cover their Big Papa.
Guess my imagination isn’t the only thing that’s gotten bigger in the last 50 years. Here’s wishing you and your little goblins have a happy and safe Halloween.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]