The tail of the ghostly tiger

This will probably be our last year of trick and treating. 20 Prospect Jr. is in 4th grade, and Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect is in 5th, and both are starting to see it as a “little kid” thing to do. So when the snowflakes fly, and the winds whip this Halloween, we will be setting out for what may well be my last Trick or Treat. I’m feeling a little melancholy over it. I can’t believe they have grown up so fast. It seems like just yesterday I was carrying them home, one in each arm, along with two pumpkins full of candy, because they were too tired to walk back up the hill.


(insert manly tears here.)

Growing up, Halloween was always my favorite holiday. Behind Christmas of course. (Gotta give the fat man and the Christ child their due.) Although when I think back upon my years of Trick or Treating, it isn’t always with fond memories.

The first year I was old enough to go out alone with the other neighborhood kids was 1974. I was six years old, and I had decided that I wanted to be a ghost. In my mind I could picture my ghost costume, right out of Charlie Brown, a white bed sheet with two holes cut for eyes. I begged Mom to help me make the costume, and she obliged by digging through the laundry room, until she found a yellowed, thread bare old bed sheet that she was willing to sacrifice. I explained to her exactly how I wanted it to look. How it would fit over my head, and I would be able to lift my arms and look just like Caspar, only scarier. She nodded, and told me she knew just what I meant. Then she took her scissors and cut one big hole right in the middle of the sheet.

It was big enough to put my head through.

Then she explained to me that it wasn’t safe for a six year old to go trick or treating with a bed sheet over his head, and how this would help me see where I was going.

I stood there speechless, the tears welling up from deep within.

There was no way I was walking out that door with my head sticking through a hole in a bed sheet. I didn’t look like a ghost, I looked like the angel from the Nativity Scene. The kids were going to laugh at me. She suggested that maybe if I had a mask to wear over my face it would look better. So we dug around the basement for awhile until we found a tiger mask. So as the kids in the neighborhood gathered out in front of 20 Prospect, I set off with the Army Soldiers, Frankenstein’s, Cowboys, Dracula’s, and Planet of the Apes as the only Ghostly Tiger in the City of Batavia. Maybe even the world.

At every house we came to a little old lady would open the door and ask “and what do we have here?” then proceed to name each and every costume until she came to me. After an awkward silence, I would mumble “Umm… I’m a ghostly tiger”.

I swore right then at age six that I was never going to do that to my kids.

So when Halloween 1975 rolled around I had great hopes for redemption. This year I would have the best costume on the street. So the week before Halloween, Mom took me to Fay’s Drug Store to buy a fancy store bought costume. I looked over the Planet of the Apes, the Astronauts, the Frankenstein’s, and the Superhero’s and I found the best costume I had ever seen.

A Dinosaur.

This was it! This was the one! It had a plastic Dinosaur mask with a snout that protruded like a Crocodile’s. I begged Mom to buy it for me, and she did! On the night of Halloween I sat at the dinner table, squirrely with excitement. That’s when Mom informed me that my Big Bruddah had a High School Football game that night at Niagara Catholic in Niagara Falls, and that we would have to leave early to go to the game so there would be no time for trick or treating with my friends. Instead, my sister took me to five houses on our street. That night I rode all the way to Niagara Falls sitting in the backseat with my Dinosaur mask on, pondering the fact that Mom clearly did not grasp the concept of Halloween.

So for Halloween 1976 I turned to my Dad. That was the year of Star Wars, and I had gotten a toy light saber, made out of a flashlight and a hollow plastic tube. I wanted to be Darth Vader, so Dad put on his thinking cap, and then gathered up a pair of welding goggles, one of granny’s oxygen masks, and a toy German Army helmet, and took them out to the barn and spray painted them black. Mom even got into the act by sewing me a black cape, and letting me wear her knee high black leather boots. The night of Halloween I stepped out onto the front porch, flicked on my light saber, and started breathing like James Earl Jones with a nasty head cold. The neighborhood was in awe. What followed was the greatest Halloween ever, as I spent 3 hours walking the streets of Batavia basking in the celebrity of an adoring public, until my pillow case was full to over flowing with sugary goodness.

I was Darth Vader again the next year.

So as Trick or Treat Version 2.0 is coming to an end, the kids and I have been working on their costumes this week. As he was reading the Lord of the Rings last month, 20 Prospect Jr. decided he wanted to be a ring wraith. That’s my boy. Nine years old and already on his way to Saturday nights playing Dungeon and Dragons with his friends as the cool kids are out drinking in the woods. I hesitate to introduce him to Star Trek for fear he makes it through High School without ever having a date.

And Lil Miss 20 Prospect? She wanted to be a devil. Do you think we could find a devil costume suitable for an 11 year old girl? No. Not unless I wanted to send her out of the house dressed like a stripper. So to the makers of kids Halloween costumes I would like to say “What the hell people? What is it with the porn star outfits for pre-pubescent girls? ARE YOU SICK!?!”

Thanks, I needed to get that off my chest.

So instead they will both be going as ring wraiths in costumes that are best described as a black burka, with a toy sword. I’m afraid the folks in the neighborhood will just think they came from the Islamic Center around the block, and call Homeland Security.

Such is life in the big city.

Two years ago, when Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect wanted to be a ghost, I knew exactly what she meant. I went to bat for her and argued with Mrs. 20 Prospect that there was no danger or safety hazard in sending a nine year old out into the dark with a bed sheet over her head. It only took 34 years to get redemption.


13 thoughts on “The tail of the ghostly tiger

  1. Okay, first off, I laughed so hard at your description of the “tiger ghost” costume, I had tears streaming down my face. I am SO sorry. This was one of the instances in my childhood where having an artistic father always came in very handy. I always had extraordinary, over-the-top costumes.

    Same goes for my kids. I have never purchased a costume for them, that would be heresy around this house. We simply do NOT do that sort of thing. The best of recent memory was The Drama Queen’s portrayal of Samara, the creepy girl who crawls from the well in the movie The Ring. Of course, it’s much warmer here at Halloween.

    Also, totally with you on the complete whore-ish nature of all of the girl’s costumes now available for purchase. We get a crazy amount of kids here on Halloween and I saw 8 yo girls last year in outfits I wouldn’t wear!

    • Yes, it adds a whole new level of challenge to come up with costumes that can be worn over their winter jackets. We have frozen our asses off some years. Some of the local Malls are open for “trick or treating” between the stores, but I’m a traditionalist. I want to walk OUR neighborhood.

      Mostly so I can peak into my neighbors houses when they open the door, because I can’t peak in the windows since that whole “restraining order” business. Honestly, people are so touchy about stalking these days. Sheesh.

    • I thought you were just going to borrow Mildred’s cone. I like the backup plan, although I’m not sure people would get that you were trying to look like one of my relatives.

  2. i was so sad too when my little girl didn’t want me taking her trick or treating anymore and she decided she wanted to go with her friends. i miss the elementary school halloween parades. but i’ll tell ya what pisses me off even more than a lack of ingenuity in costumes or hooker costumes is the fucking hallmarktizing of halloween.

    hello! when i was young halloween was scary not cutesy. people turned their homes into haunted houses. their yards weren’t cluttered with inflatable pumpkins and ghosts. there were vampires walking around in cemeteries. real witches without smiles inviting you into their houses with creepy music, coffins and smoke. there were zombies sitting in porch chairs. sometimes you might get grabbed taking your candy.

    where has the edge gone? i want scary halloween back. safe, politically correct halloweens can suck it.

  3. I had any number of super fantastic Halloween costumes over the years but my all time favorite was Ace Freehley from Kiss. My cousin went as Peter Criss and we rocked the neighborhood. I even had the platform shoes.
    Honestly, my heart hurt a little when you described the small ghostly tiger. That’s the kind of memory that makes kids chuck it all away and trade in candy treats for rolls of toilet paper & eggs on gate night.
    My daughter made an attempt to get away with going as Lady GaGa this year until my husband got a spot for her at the local convent. It’s working out wonderfully!

    • Yikes! Lady Gaga would be a scary costume. Almost as scary as a Nun.

      Luckily, my daughter still doesn’t know who Lady Gaga is. Of course, I don’t think she knows what a Nun is either. She’s more likely to run into Lady Gaga than a Nun anyway.

      I wonder if there are any convents left? The ones at my Elementary School, and my High School were re-purposed long ago when the last of the Nun’s died, or got too old to teach.

  4. There are still nuns at the local catholic school here. There is an absolutely adorable one named Sister Lucretia who walks through my neighborhood each day, cute little nun habit thingy and a pair of walking pants. He Who Loves All Things Wicked hasn’t been to church in forever, but he’s still catholic enough he won’t allow me to snag a pic of her.

    Also, dufmanno, OMJ, I wonder if you went as Ace the same year I was Paul Stanley, cause, oh yeah, I rocked that one, my brother was Gene!!

  5. I love this post. yes my heart ached a little when I got to the big hole in the bed sheet and the wearing the dino mask the whole way. My husband loves Halloween b/c, I suspect, like you, this is the only chance for him to live in reality the fantasy novels he loved (ok, fine, still loves). And being a theater major, I cannot stand half-ass outfits. If you want to dress up, let’s really dress up. Our boys are encouraged to go all out but of course as the oldest one gets old enough, it is NOT COOL any more for him to dress up too much so as to seem enthusiastic about a holiday that’s for little kids. NO. Halloween is not for little kids. Look at all those crazy hooker costumes. Clearly Halloween is for grown-ups! And I am with you, I will scream this too:

    “What the hell people? What is it with the porn star outfits for pre-pubescent girls? ARE YOU SICK!?!”

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