a required taste for the pretentious as all get out





trick or complain
October 31, 2002, 4:00 pm

Halloween, 1983:

I am 5 and in kindegarten, ready for anything in my fairy-princess costume. It is really my dance recital costume from June: A pile of yellow, pink, and blue tulle layered with white lace. Mom has made me a tiara from some cardboard, tin foil, and glitter (though I would have far preferred a store-bought tiara and wand). My opague tights are stiff and scratchy; my tap shoes, covered in white tape to disguise their black patent leather, clack awkwardly on the concrete of the blacktop. I am confident that a prize will be mine, as most of the kids around me are in store-bought costumes, and Michael Valabek is a stone-faced Grim Reaper that won't scare anybody.

The day is sunny, and we're on parade: older students gawk at us as we file silently in front of the judges (a bunch of ladies dressed as Raggedy Anns and Cowboys that I don't recognize). I smile at them and they smile back. First place, I think, is mine.

They give us our prizes out on the blacktop. Scariest: Grim Reaper. Prettiest: (I inhale sharply) Mary Wijangco. My heart drops. She is Princess Leia (Episode 4): a vision in a white, flowing gown. Her hair, a usual mess of tangles that is easily three feet of her three and a half foot frame, is looped expertly into two huge buns that envelope the sides of her head. I can see her, still, sashaying triumphantly to get her prize: an envelope with a dollar in it. I am broken and vow to never lose a costume contest again.

I don't.

1984: First prize, most original: Green M&M (before the costumes came out, a hula hoop inside my costume!)

1985: First prize: Bag Piper (with working tape recorder inside a torn pair of dad's pants and lummi sticks!)

1986: First prize: Indian (with Cabbage Patch doll strapped on my back!)

1987: First prize, prettiest: Ballerina (complete with Toe Shoes!)

1988: First prize, original: ESPN Reporter with working microphone!

1989: First prize: Couch Potato (burlap sack over my head, fake armchair and legs around me)

And that was elementary school, in the years since I've been:

1990: a baby

1991: Wayne from Wayne's World

1992: Phantom of the Opera

1993: Dorothy

1994: Puck from _Midsummer_

1995: soccer player (we had a game)

1996: a little kid in pajamas

1997: 80s punk rocker

1998: the Scarlet Witch

1999: the Y2K bug

2000: Greek Goddess

2001: a flapper

Tonight, I won't do anything but grade papers for the first Halloween in my life. I'm disappointed in myself. *sigh...and subject to change*

Happy Halloween, everyone!

last - next