Everyone has had one. The worst Halloween costume ever. Remember yours?
Maybe it’s the time you thought it would be hilarious to go to that house party as a giant take-out extra large Tim Hortons double double and spent the whole evening wearing a plastic garbage can, knocking over expensive ornaments and being unable to sit down for six straight hours.
Or the time you decided to go to the office Halloween bash in one of those Holstein cow costumes, and everybody spent the entire night grabbing at your udder.
Or maybe it was when you were a kid and went trick or treating as a ballerina complete with tiny pink leotards and a tutu, or you dressed up as a star basketball player with gym shorts and a tank top and then Halloween night howled into town with a snowy, miserable-20 windchill.
But you refused to wear a coat on account of it would cover your cool costume.
Remember staggering home with various frozen body parts and acute hypothermia? But it didn’t matter, did it, because you were lugging a pillow case stuffed with 45 kg of candy.
Of course, there are always kids who come to the door looking like they’ve taken an entire week off school to be dressed by their mother, who had professionally designed and built all the costumes for the Broadway production of the Lion King.
And there are the wee babies who are such excruciatingly adorable teddy bears or clowns or princesses or little tigers that you just have to take their picture at your door before giving them extra candy, even though you have noticed that most of the littlest gaffers don’t really have actual teeth yet.
But we all know where that candy goes though, don’t we moms and dads?
And then there are the teenaged boys, and sometime girls, who basically throw on a hat and maybe a scarf (apparently dressing up as teenagers) and show up at your door, holding open a plastic grocery bag, towering over the little Batmans, witches, hobos and Hannah Montanas. Even though some would say they are clearly too old.
I always give the ones in the teenager costumes a good hearty handful from our bowl of goodies. I figure, good for them. Make childhood last as long as you can, make Halloween fun.
And, of course, it keeps them from egging and soaping my car.
But I remember my worst costume ever.
When I saw it in the Woolworth’s store (which is no longer there), across Gaetz Avenue from the tall Hayhoe’s Plumbing building (which is no longer there), I knew I had to have it.
No amount of reasoning from my wiser and more costume-experienced Mom could talk me out of the giant monster face staring at me with perfectly scary Halloween horror.
Thing is, it wasn’t just a regular monster mask that fit over your face, the mask was the entire costume! The plastic face was, like, over a metre and a half tall and a metre wide, with cloth at the back so that you actually put it on your whole self, like pulling a sweater over your head.
“That’s not going to be very easy to go trick or treating in,” Mom would say. “What about a pirate or that cowboy over there, you can move around better and. . . .”
But I only had eyes for the monster.
The stiff plastic monster mask hung in front like a piece of cardboard from your head to your knees, and you peeked out of eye holes cut into the forehead of the monster face. Your arms stuck out of arm slots on either side of the mask, at about waist level. And when I tried it on in Woolworth’s and stood in front of the thin, faded mirror on one of the store pillars, the effect was perfect — a monster face the size of a person coming right at you. I could vividly imagine the extra candy I would get for having such a cool costume!
With visions of all those extra toffee suckers on a stick, those little canvas bags of “golden nuggets” that were actually bubble gum, those once-a-year scrumptious molasses candies that we used to call “Halloween kisses,” and the rare ‘big score’ — full-sized chocolate bars … with all those visions of the Halloween equivalent of sugar plums dancing away in my Halloween bag, let’s just say my under-developed good judgment was impaired by my overactive imagination.
You can see where this is going. I wasn’t three houses into my Halloween blitz with my buddies Ricky and John and already I’d walked into a hedge, fell over a doorstep, and dropped my pillow case twice on account of my arms were stuck straight out of the costume like Frankenstein with a really big face.
I couldn’t see; I couldn’t bend over and no one could hear me yell “Trick or Treat” from inside that smothering, sweat-soaked mask.
It was the only Halloween I can remember that I left my buddies and went home early. Squeezing my massive monster mask through our front door and falling face-first on the dining room floor, exhausted from several hours of stumbling blindly around our Parkvale neighborhood.
Later as I poured my diminished Halloween bounty into the turkey roaster Mom always set out for that purpose, chomping away on a little wax Coke bottle with mystery syrup inside, I dug out a Crispy Crunch chocolate bar for Mom — her favourite.
“Stupid costume,” I said, wishing I’d never laid eyes on that stupid giant monster mask. But Mom, carefully unwrapping her Crispy Crunch, said all kinds of nice motherly things about how good it looked and how scary it was, which made me feel a lot better.
And it wasn’t until much later that I realized she never did say the one thing she could have said: “I told you so!”
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays.