How My Mother Turned Me Into the Halloween Costume Slut I Am Today

Costumes, more specifically the creativeness that comes along with them – has never been my forte. Not only that, I lack the gene that comes up with even original getups. I see them every year at parties; the ones that make you laugh, or shake your head, or even raise your eyebrows at the uniqueness of it all. I am in constant awe of people like that. Sort of.  Because even given the opportunity for originality, there is that part of me that just wants to be a Halloween Slut.

I am drawn like a moth to a flame to the a-typical, sleazy, slutfest of costumes that require no thought. Oh, I’ve been them all; Your little French Maid, the wicked Devil, the sleazy Construction Worker, the angelic Angel, — Little Red Riding Hood, Vampy Vampire, Sexy Witch, Sailor, Pirate, you name it. Then there were those years in between where I am not even certain I had a title, just put on something a little sleazy, throw in a leaf or two, maybe a spider and VOILA, I’ll be whatever moniker you want me to be. Base point: If it’s cut up to here – and down low to here — then sign me up.

mean-girls-karen-halloween

I believe all of this comes from my mother’s inability to simply let me for one year — live out that childhood fantasy of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty in a plastic mask with an elastic band, and three holes; two for seeing and one for breathing.

The reality is I’ve preferred flash over panache since I was a child. While my artist mother for a short period of time created adorable or whimsical costumes, inside all I really wanted was that boxed up cheap plastic mask, accompanied by a polyester costume that simply tied on you like a bad hospital gown. Not an ounce of creativity there, but for $5.99 it meant the world. I wanted that more than a fat kid wanted cake.

But it never happened. I was clever and original, but never pretty or princess-like. A cowgirl with a great hat and some fringe, or ¼ of a barbershop quartet in my borrowed red and white striped suit. I wanted Twinkies, and got a fruit torte instead.

Eventually, it was bound to happen. I mistakenly killed my mother’s creative streak. Straight out murdered it, because I was too uncomfortable standing out and being different.

I think I was in about 4th grade and she decided (and convinced me) to be what can only  be described as Mickey Mouse’s poor country cousin. Not even Minnie, but Mickey. She had the perfect black mouse-ear headpiece that fit over my head like a bathing cap, but in cotton. Once all of my hair was tucked in, she had a canvas to create a mouse face. Matching the ears was a long black skinny cotton mouse tail that actually bent a little bit.  All we needed to complete the costume were red shorts and some black tights and a tee. I was initially only reluctantly sold on the idea, but my mind started to create the envision on how cool I would be as Mickey Mouse, and soon I was onboard.

She woke up extra early on Halloween day to have enough time to get herself ready for work and then work on my transformation. Tucked in my thin brown hair and tied down the ear-hat under my chin. Next she white-faced me up. Gave me the perfect mouse look with liquid black eyeliner and a touch of lipstick. Then like any good mother, she sent me on my way to school with the final instructions that would be my downfall. “I will only have a short period of time to re-do your face for trick or treating tonite, so be careful with the make-up.”

I was both excited and very nervous about the costume. Granted I didn’t look exactly like Mickey, and nothing like the vision I had BUT — there was absolutely no doubt I was a mouse. I twirled my mouse tail that was stuck on my shorts with a safety pin, and headed to school. During that one mile walk, I worried that people passing by me might not understand why I was dressed as a mouse. Maybe other kids wouldn’t be dressed up, my little mouse head told me. It was a relatively new school for me and we really didn’t know the protocol for Halloween. I soon learned though.

I was crushed and mortified when I saw very few other students my age dressed with the intensity that my mother put into this costume. Most had those coveted Cinderella mouth breather masks. A few had cute homemade costumes, but none had their faces painted. I had two choices; one I could remain in my mouse attire until the parade at the end of the day, or I could somehow release myself from these rodent trappings and skip the parade. I really did want to do the parade though. I sort of picked an in-between, and left the ears, but tried to wash off as much of the make-up as possible with water and paper towels. Now I was just a smudged faced kid in shorts and tights with weird mouse ears on their head.

Of course when my mother rushed home from work it was evident that the make-up hadn’t just smudged or smeared from a little youthful playing. I’m not certain if she was more hurt or angry, but that was the last year she ever invested time in a costume for me. That night started the few years of costumes that ranged from the bizarre to the just plain lazy, until I took over for what remaining trick-or-treat years I had in me. Instead of carefully reapplying the mouse make-up, she simply pulled the ears off, threw a ratty black wig on my head and an old black t-shirt, and (figuratively) slapped some more of the old white face (which became a staple for a few years of the costumes after that) on. I think she said I was a ghoul when I looked astonished at the haphazard costume in the mirror staring back at me. Inwardly I questioned her lack of creativity.

The following years are sad reminders of her lack of enthusiasm. Always the white face, sometimes with a hat, or a mustache, always with an oversized tee, and no explanation of what I was supposed to be.

With age I eventually outgrew the want for the cheesy cheap boxed costume of my youth, and eyed the cheesy sleaze costumes of my adult years. My first year dressing in this manner I went as a French Maid. In looking at those pictures now, I blush at how tame they were in comparison to today. But at the time I certainly felt sexy. I think that’s what it was about. Feeling and looking good, without going over the top, ala Mouse Head.

In my defense, I tried to be creative a few times. I figured genetically I must have it in me. I was wrong. Once in my early 20’s I conjured up a sexy Charlie Chaplin which in my head looked much better than it did in person. Story of my life. Transforming what I think, into reality. It was a dismal fail, reminiscent of the Mickey year. Come to think of it, I think it involved white face make-up again. Years later at a friend’s family Halloween party I created a gypsy costume that ended up running me as much as four store bought costumes, and came complete with a teeny tiny little crystal ball (It seemed much larger when I ordered it online). It was still only subpar at best. I should have added a wart with a long hair coming out of it, or something.  I cannot stress how the creative gene has bypassed me.

Eventually I always end up back in the bagged sexy themed costumes, or something that revolves around lingerie and a headpiece. No pun intended. At times, I think the only thing that has kept my exhibitionist self from putting it all out there ala Lady Godiva, is the fact that my slutty mind and my had-babies body do not go hand-in-hand.

I guess I should mention that my mom didn’t totally break me. There have been a few times I have forgone the sexiness for comfort, or decency. Usually work events. I went as a Nun one year and inadvertently played the role so well, that I freaked out all the Hispanic Catholic factory workers we had. Another year I won fifty bucks at a costume contest at another job for my played down Pirate look. (it’s just a matter of how tight you lace the bodice and how low you pull the chemise, that brings you from sensible to eye-popping) To be fair I think I only won, because I borrowed a co-workers live parrot at the last moment and wore it on my shoulder for the judging. Everyone loves a pirate with a parrot.

This year — I think I am showing growth. Or conceding to age. But not completely. I can’t get the hang of coming up with something original, so again I bought one of the bagged cheap costumes, that some poor child in China probably made for 3 cents on the dollar. But I’ve put the sleaze factor to rest.

Well — Kinda sorta. Let’s just say we’re playing it up somewhere between a nun and a harlot. Which really is growth for me.

Halloween costume

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