Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Memories – The Best and the Worst

Dr. Scoresby, a psychologist, once told me I needed to wear brighter colors.  He said, “You wear browns and grays to try and blend in with the woodwork.  This next month your assignment is to wear some bright colors.  Something that will stand out.  Something red.”

My sisters all bought me a beautiful, solid red skirt outfit with matching red earrings and necklace.  It was bold.  It took courage, but I wore it, and it soon became my favorite dress.

If I didn’t like wearing bright colors when I was younger, I most definitely did not like wearing costumes.  Costumes begged for attention; everyone sees you in a costume and there is no way to blend.  Hence, dressing up for Halloween was never my favorite activity.  We had an old two-drawer dresser in the basement that held all of our Halloween costumes.  There was the brown Pocahontas dress with suede fringe, there were lots of bonnets and long skirts, there was a dog costume from a Christmas play, there was a hat or two, and a couple of masks.  There was a clown suit.  I can’t remember if there was a wig or not, but it seems like something long and stringy was in that drawer.  That was pretty much our costume selection.    

One Halloween we little kids went downstairs to pick out our costumes.  We dug through the drawers looking for something that would fit.  I wasn’t the oldest child looking for a costume, nor was I the youngest.  I was somewhere in between and didn’t know what to wear.  It wasn’t like I hadn’t already been a clown for several years and it wasn’t like that dog costume was going to fit.  It was for first-graders.  I was a bit desperate.  The school and Primary (church activity) Halloween party were the next day and there were  prizes for the best costume at the Primary party.  I didn’t want to lose, but was sure I couldn’t win.  Not with store bought costumes to contend with anyway.

I finally decided on a pair of my dad’s long underwear.  I still can’t describe the material.  It wasn’t thermal.  It wasn’t cotton.  It was a thick, insulated, sage green nylon that could breathe.  The underwear bottoms had elastic at the ankles, and the underwear top had elastic at the wrists and snapped up the front.  My dad was a big man, so there was plenty of room to stuff the underwear arms, legs, and belly with pillows.  I would add a hat and that would be my costume.  (I must have liked baggy even then.)

The next afternoon we were in the church basement for our Primary party.  The cement floor was painted an orange rust color with lighter colored designs stenciled on top of it.  I know.  I remember.  I spent a lot of time looking at the floor.  On one side of the room there was the a tub where kids bobbed for apples.  Donuts and cider were the refreshments.  There were other party activities being played but since I couldn’t move well in my bloated costume, I found a chair and sat in the corner and watched the kids play.  And then I saw Ruth.  Ruth was our pianist.  All of Ruth’s kids had grown up and gone away a long time ago.  Ruth was a large, large, large woman with little toothpick legs.    Ruth hobbled as she walked.  Ruth always sat with her legs far apart on the chair.  Ruth always seemed a bit lonely, I imagined because her kids were gone and her husband was a Presbyterian and went to the other church in town.  All of a sudden I saw a big resemblance between me and Ruth.  My legs wouldn't fit together on my chair either.  I was embarrassed and afraid my costume would hurt Ruth’s feelings if she saw it; I was afraid she would think I dressed up to make fun of her.  I was sad and hoped Ruth wouldn't see me.  I was miserable and it wasn’t just because I hated donuts and apple cider.

Soon the ladies, Elsie, Vera, Gene, and the like, stopped the games and told all the children to gather to the center of the room and sit on the floor so we could sing songs and they could announce the costume winners.  I’m sure we sang

There’s a mean old witch with a hat.
She rides on her broom with her cat.
Her chin is pointed and her shoes are too
So you better watch out or she might scare you.
There’s a mean old witch with a hat.

because we sang that song every year.  Then it was time to announce the winner of the contest.  I was still sitting on my chair out of the way.  I was still hoping Ruth didn’t see me.  They announced third place, then second place, and when they announced first place they called my name.  People laughed.  People clapped.  I was even more miserable.  I was going to have to stand up in front of all those people and everyone would see that Ruth and I matched and that it looked like I was making fun of her.  But no.  Ruth was smiling.  Ruth was happy for me.  Ruth was clapping.  Ruth didn’t see me as a mirror of her at all.  I won.  I won.

I don’t think I dressed up again after that.  It was too much.  From then on I was the kid without the costume.  It may have made me stick out even more, but I wasn’t going through that feeling again for anything.  No party is worth that, especially when they serve cider and donuts.

What was your best or worst costume?
Do you like to wear costumes?  


Tiffany Fackrell said...

ugh...i hate dressing up...i hate halloween...I hate trying to figure out what to dress my kids up's just a miserable holiday altogether.

one year when i was probably like 8 i wanted to be a clown. I told my mom I just wanted the rosie cheeks and a red nose. well she ended up painting my entire face white and all that jazz. I looked in the mirror and FREAKED OUT. I remember sitting on her bathroom floor bawling my eyes out and not wanting to look in the mirror. then fast forward to senior year of high school. I was in drama we had to dress up as mimes I did not want to paint my face white, I couldn't even look at the other people with their white faces. the teacher made me paint my face. I spent the good part of that day hyperventilating and not looking at anyone. they all laughed at me...i hated that feeling.

Ande Payne said...

This was the sweetest blog. I can just picture you.

Jill said...

You have just always been sweet!

It's funny, but I almost always wear bold colors because I have been "diagnosed" a Summer, so those are the colors that look best on me. I tend to look horrid in pastels, so instead I end up wearing bright pinks, blues, orange, blacks and reds.

Rachel said...

If I don't remember these stories, I doubt I was one of the kind sisters that bought you a dress. I feel left out... But not too much, because I still have that suede Indian dress. Maddie's about worn it out. I'm glad Ruth was happy. That was a sad story. I think it's apparent you thought too deep even back then. :)

Cassidy said...

I don't like dressing up either. I guess it's because I could never be creative enough. Too much stress. :) A holiday party where all you got was cider and donuts? Yeah, the stress wasn't worth it. ;)

Brenda Goodrich said...

My favorite costume of all time was the one my sister made for her kids and passed down to mine. It was a bright yellow duck costume with a bright orange beak and Elliott was the cutest duck you ever did see. No one knows how it got lost, but both families have mourned for it for years.

I also loved when Calvin and Golden dressed up as the old married couple and visited our place----creepy and funny at the same time.

Angie said...

Oh I have always loved dressing up! I have two bins full of wigs and outfits and I love it. I'm most proud of my geisha outfit that I put together with a silk robe from the thrift store and cheap fabric from wal mart. That costume won be a 50$ gift card.
My daughter already has a whole bin full of dress up clothes that she gets into almost every day. It's so cute.

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

I am not a fan of dressing up. I don't even remember the costumes that I might have worn.

I bought a t-shirt a few years ago that is screen printed with mummy wrapping. I now wear that so my kids don't think I am totally boring.

On another note, I don't really decorate for Halloween either. I like I start with those decorations October 1st!!

Deidra said...

You hated donuts and cider? Do you still? I think donuts and cider are my favorite parts of October. I feel pretty "meh" about Halloween.

Deidra said...

I despise dressing up! As an elementary school teacher where the kids all come dressed up on Halloween, it's a big deal. It's way to much stress for this lady.

michelle said...

Wait, you don't like donuts and cider??

I think this shows that you have always been a deep thinker and a person with compassion, both of which are so endearing.

I always wanted a fabulous, "real" costume of some sort, but my mom hated Halloween, so it wasn't in the cards. Now I don't want to dress up for anything.

I am drawn to gray and black in clothing. My personality is beige all the way!

Becky said...

I could gladly give away Halloween...I've never been able to figure out why it is such a huge holiday in Utah? (one more reason I don't live there I suppose).

Your story made my heart hurt for that little girl that used to be you. But I also chuckled too. :)

You have a gift for story-telling!

Susan Walker said...

That is a bittersweet story, and totally how I would've felt, too.

It's funny; these days, everyone considers me to be a very outgoing person, so most would be surprised to know that I *abhor* dressing up in a costume. I will avoid it at all costs. There's nothing worse than having all the attention on me, especially if people feel forced to comment on the costume. I even felt that way getting married. I'd rather do anything than walk down an aisle and have all eyes on me! Ack!

Anonymous said...

We've tried so hard all our lives to be invisible. And sadly, we got good at it. I still can't wear red. But we're doing better, I see, both of us. Good for us.