On Halloween, mom’s frugality wins
Updated: October 17, 2012 8:46PM
Oh sure, there are many costumes to choose from this Halloween.
But there is only one first costume. What was the first Halloween costume you ever wore?
It was right about this time of October that I would begin pestering my mother to buy me an expensive and gory costume at the neighborhood drug store/monster emporium.
My mother had a different idea. And it was always the same idea.
She thought I would make a cute little hobo. Perhaps with motherly intuition she foresaw my character or future. More likely, she figured that while a really neat Frankenstein Monster — complete with neck plugs — cost many dollars, a hobo outfit was relatively cost free.
To transform me into a hobo, all that was needed was a cork, to be burned and rubbed on my face to make me look dirty — dirtier, actually. This wasn’t so bad. Boys like to burn anything. Add to this one of my father’s old hats and an old suit coat and, presto, a tubby little kid becomes a tubby little hobo.
But Mom, I whined, I’ll look like a dork. Nobody’s going to give the good candy to a dork. Good candy goes to good costumes.
By good candy, I meant of course full-sized candy bars, including the Holy Grail of Halloween candy, the large Snickers bar. Dorky costumes were dismissed with Necco Wafers, a single Mary Jane or, heaven forbid, an apple.
When that Aristotelian argument didn’t work, I tried the keeping-up-with-the-neighbors ploy: Eddie and Tom are getting monster costumes, I said. Even using my best Oliver Twist voice didn’t move my mother.
“If Eddie and Tom jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump off, too?’’ she retorted.
I had no counter-argument for this, other than to tell her that her analogy was not applicable. But being a kid at that time, I knew nothing about analogies, or even that there was such a word.
So I did what kids do. I whined until I became bored and then changed tactics: Could I at least have a Dracula mask?
“Maybe next year,’’ my mother replied as she turned from the stove with a smoldering cork in her hand.
Soon I was grimy and decked out in cast-off clothes. I stepped outside to go trick-or-treating. I was one sulky hobo.
What Tom and Eddie went as I can’t remember.
I do remember that the neighbors heaped enough candy on me to pay for our dentist’s new car.
I must have been one cute little hobo.