Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween Costumes: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

"Blondie" by Rufogh
With Halloween around the corner, Alisha and I were reminiscing about our childhood days and the costumes we wore. She told me that her mother loved Halloween and would dress her up in all kinds of odd costumes. One that stuck out in her mind was when her mom dressed her up as Carmen Miranda the year she turned 8. You know, the famous Chica Chica lady from the 40’s and 50’s who wore those crazy fruit baskets on her head. Alisha had no clue who she was dressed up as, but noted that every door she went to the parents would yell, “Chica chica boom!” or “Carmen Miranda!” and give her lots of candy, so she enjoyed that.

Chica Chica Boom Boom - Carmen Miranda

I was around the same age when I wore my favorite costume (ironically the day after Alisha was born). I used to watch a lot of Western movies with my Dad. Lee Van Cleef, Lee Marvin, John Wayne, Chuck Connors, and of course, Clint Eastwood were some of my all time favorite Western actors. One of my favorite Westerns at the time (and still is) was “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” So that year I decided I was going to dress up like Clint Eastwood’s character ‘Blondie’ (also known as The Man with No Name) from that movie.

"Blondie" by Razwit

There was only one problem. As I've mentioned before, we were dirt poor, so there was no way I was going to be able to convince my parents to drop some cash on a costume, which would include: a poncho, some cowboy boots with spurs, a gun holster - with a gun, an unlit half-chewed cigar, and a western hat. You have to remember; back in 1976 we didn't have a Walmart or Target on every corner with ready-made costumes on a hook for under $20. We did have K-Mart and Zody’s, but I don’t recall them carrying a large collection of Halloween costumes; maybe cheap plastic masks, but nothing like what we have today. This meant if you wanted to go trick-or-treating you had to make your costume, which I think is so much more rewarding and fun.

"Devious Way" by Goranbaotic
This brings me to another topic. I can’t stand it when you see teenagers (and some adults) coming to the door trick-or-treating with little to no costume at all, carrying a large pillowcase for a candy bag and expecting you to give them a handful of candy for their lack of effort. L.A.M.E. You might be thinking, no problem, just don’t give them any candy. Nope, bad idea. You see those same teenagers, when denied a tasty candy treat will remember you, and when the night ends and everyone has settled off to la-la-land, they will return and T.P. your house, slash your tires, or worse.

I’ve devised a better solution that works every time. Take some candy in your hand – not too much – enough that they see that you have some and stick your hand down inside their bag. Then, quickly retrieve your hand – without dropping any candy – and place it back in your candy bowl. If there are multiple perps on the same door knocking, repeat the motion from bag to candy bowl and back to bag in quick succession. And don’t forget to smile. Smiling is a key component to not tipping off the perps of your deception. Feel free to adlib with a sarcastic (but not obviously so), “Wow, what an amazing costume!” or “Best one tonight!” After all, they did say, “Trick or treat.”

Now, back to Clint Eastwood…

So... without funds to support my costume idea, I had to get creative. I found an old dark brown towel.

Poncho – check!

I had a cheap plastic gun-belt, holster, and gun combo still hanging around from my 5th birthday.

Gunfighter gear – check!

"Clint - Blondie" by FitzFitzpatrick
I found a pair of my Dad’s old-greasy work-boots (minus spurs) that were 17 sizes too big.

Cowboy boots – check!

Then I managed to score a black velvet hat with a Mexican motif around the brim from my best friend Aldo.

Western hat – check!

And finally, the pièce de résistance – a candy cigarette broken in two, carefully tucked in the corner of my mouth.

Signature Clint Eastwood western costume piece – check!

I was in hog heaven. I felt Good, I felt Bad (70’s version of da bomb), but in reality, I probably looked pretty Ugly in that getup. It didn’t really matter though. In my mind, I was the biggest and baddest gunslinger in the West, and nobody was going to shoot me down that day.

Best. Halloween. Ever.

My 2nd Grade School class picture - Larch Avenue School, Lennox, CA - circa 1976

Michael A. Walker
Defying Procrastination 
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Kinley Dane said...

My dad loved that movie, so I have a fondness for it, too. What a great costume, especially because it was homemade.

My favorite costume was when I was Raggedy Ann. My mom made me my costume and her friend made a Raggedy Andy costume for her son. They were my favorite dolls, so I was thrilled :)

And love the were such a cute little guy!

Daniel Nest said...

Loved the sneaky candy trick - those kids are asking for it!

Neat story, those positive childhood memories tend to stick around - glad you had such a memorably Halloween!

WilyGuy said...

I like dressing up as a dead body on the porch and scaring them silly.

Jimmy said...

I miss the days when kids spent all day making their own costumes, that was the way it was when I was a kid.

A few years back the whole family dressed up and stood outside on the porch while my wife passed out the candy, the little kids loved it, and the teens thought it was cheesy and fake, said it wasn't working us trying to scare everyone.

I was standing beside the door as they pointed to each of the boys saying, this one is real, this one is real, I leaned in right next to ones face and asked in a low voice "What about me" all that was left of them on the porch was a puddle of pee.

Who Woulda Thought? said...

I have actually turned kids away for not having some sort of costume, I mean I understand not being able to afford a costume but don't come to my door in a pair of Nikes, jeans and a sweat shirt and tell me you're Michael Jordan....

And for the teenagers who might come back to desecrate your domicile, before they leave I always tell them, "Every trick gets a treat back."

stephen Hayes said...

Would you believe it? I've seen that movie parodied a dozen times but I've never seen the actual film.

I like your idea for withholding candy from kids that are too old or haven't put out much effort. I think I'll try it.

Chiz said...

Gah, I can't stand those people who don't dress up and still go trick-or-treating. Drives me absolutely nuts. As for the TPing, call me paranoid, but I always have my paintball gun close by on Halloween just in case. Luckily I've never had to use it.

Anyway, sounds like a memorable Halloween!

Ken said...

Living in a rural area, we don't get nearly as many kids as we used to. They put a pumpkin walk on in town at the golf course and businesses hand out candy. Most of the traffic goes there these days.

When I was younger I made one of those terrible superhero costumes out of an old sheet. To me, It couldn't have been better. I'm pretty sure that I was convinced that bullets would bounce off my chest when I wore it. Those were glorious times!

Anonymous said...

Surely, SURELY that empty hand candy trick can work every time. Surely you've been caught in the act

Workingdan said...

I miss the good ol' days of going trick or treating. We would go all night. When our bags were full we would go home and empty them then go back out again!

My favorite costume was Freddy Kruger from Nightmare on Elm Street. The only downfall was trying to carry a bag with those claws on my fingers.

Jayden Daniel said...


Jayden Daniel said...

Not everyone can pull off a good Halloween costume. Luckily, the dublin costume shop has that covered while offering some customizable options. They're way more affordable than others.

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