It was Halloween night, 1965. I closed my bedroom door and removed my costume from the box; a delicate, puffy sleeved gown and cheap plastic mask, the kind with cut out almond-shaped eyes and small holes for nostrils. The kind probably considered unsafe by today’s standards, since kids could barely breathe or see very well when wearing them.
The temperatures had dropped, a chillier than usual Halloween night. I slipped the thin gown over my shirt and pants then studied the mask; a perfect oval face with flaxen hair and a built-in crown.
Tonight I wouldn’t be an ordinary first grader…I’d transform into a stunning princess.
My mother opened the bedroom door and walked in. “It’s cold outside. You need to wear your winter coat.”
“How can I wear a coat with this? It’ll look stupid.”
“Put it under the costume.” My mother tossed the coat on the bed. “Nobody will notice.”
The injustice left me stunned and grasping for a defense. My winter coat, made of a fake, wooly man-made fabric was bulky enough to make me feel like the Hulk and not befitting of a princess.
“I don’t want to. I’ll look fat.” There… I said it. I wasn’t a tiny girl. Not fat. More sturdy, or what the Sears clothing line called “husky.”
Calling this dilemma a nightmare might sound drastic by some standards. But any six-year-old girl’s dream of becoming such a beauty – even if just for one short evening – is nothing to dismiss.
For a few minutes, I argued and pouted. Guess who won? For such a nice woman, my mom could sure dig in her heels.
We canvassed the neighborhood collecting treats. Behind the fake outer smile of my mask, however, I frowned. Instead of feeling like a princess, the bulk of my coat made me feel like a line-backer dressed in drag.
Over forty-five years later, whenever I see a girl dressed as a princess, I remember that Halloween. When I take a second look at the mask (an identical one pictured below), I’m not so sure what the fuss was all about.
Anybody else have a costume story to share? Favorite costume. Worst costume. A costume malfunction?