It’s the Thursday before Halloween, so it seems like a perfect time for the good people of SportsAlcohol.com to indulge in some Throwback Thursday nonsense. This may sound strange, but sometimes you don’t get the full picture of our writers just from their bio pictures. Herewith, pictures and stories of Halloween costumes past.
This is my first trick-or-treating Halloween (I’m on the left, my sister is on the right), and, looking back, this is a very telling photo for two reasons. 1) I half-ass Halloween costumes to this day. I don’t have the theater gene that enjoys dressing up, so I try to think of things where I can just wear my regular clothes. (See: The year that Jesse and I dressed as Jack and Meg White. Red shirt, white pants, pigtails, and done.) I realize now that my attitude goes all the way back to the beginning, since here I’m dressed as a gypsy (if you couldn’t tell—and I retroactively apologize for the cultural appropriation), but I’m wearing a Big Bird sweater—the same Big Bird sweater that I’m wearing in every single photo taken of me that year. 2) While I never really liked the dressing-up aspect of Halloween, I always loved chocolate. I’ll trade you all my Tootsie Rolls for a Reese’s.
I had a lot of great costumes when I was a child but the one that sprang instantly to mind was my devil costume when I was three years old. As my memories of that period are hazy at best, I asked my mom to tell me what she remembered about that costume and here’s what she had to say: “I usually made your costumes, but Dad was working in Seattle & we were getting ready to move. I didn’t have the time or energy to make one that year so we went to Toys R Us & bought this one. You wanted to be a ‘debil’ & wore it constantly, even long after Halloween was over!” I like to think that though the longevity of my costumes has since waned the enthusiasm remains.
Halloween in Arizona can be a pretty warm affair. Along with the thrill of wearing a costume and the excitement of free candy, my memories of trick-or-treating include plenty of sweating. By the end of a night wearing a mask or makeup there was as much pleasure to be found in getting to mop my brow without spoiling the illusion as there was in sorting through my candy. Still, on Halloween the costume was the thing, never mind the heat, and it feels fitting that my last childhood Halloween costume also stands as my hottest.
When I reached junior high, my parents declared that I was now Too Old for trick-or-treating. In fact, if I wanted to wear the Uncle Fester costume I dreamed of, I would have to attend the Apache Junction Junior High Halloween dance. I had not attended, or even felt any interest in attending, a school dance, but my parents very shrewdly identified the carrot that could lure me to my first one. I put on the bald cap, trying my best (and failing) to smooth out the wrinkles on top. I gave myself a deathly pallor and ghoulish dark sockets around my eyes. And I bundled into the heavy, knee length black coat I’d found at the Goodwill, complete with heavy fur collar and a pillows to pad my frame out to a proper Uncle Fester plumpness and to hunch my shoulders up and hide my neck. I got a picture next to my brother (who was heading off to do his own trick-or-treating). Then, I went to the dance.
Having already gotten everything I wanted out of the dance by simply getting to wear my costume, the rest of the night was a sweaty, awkward, sweaty, sorta boring, and very sweaty denouement. I wasn’t a social butterfly or ladies’ man at the best of times, and I certainly didn’t blossom into one as I sweltered in my latex cap and Addams coat, spending the evening hiding out with a couple of other guys just outside the cafeteria’s dance floor. I imagined the dark circles beginning to run down my cheeks, and I fretted about upsetting the seam on my bald cap if I scratched any of the itches it was generating. And I waited. And sweated.
Still, I got to be Uncle Fester. And I love this photograph, which also turned out to be weirdly prescient. Now my brother is a medical student with an interest in surgery. And as of March of last year, I’m a weird uncle.
There are many reasons I’m not a big fan of Halloween. My parents wouldn’t let me go trick-or-treating in my teens. Instead, I would hand out candy at Jesse’s house while he and the rest of his family were off having fun. I almost never enjoy Halloween parties; I’m either surrounded by drunk assholes, or I’m the drunk asshole. I often get dragged to things at the last second and throw together terrible costumes. If I’m not dragged somewhere else, I find myself at my parents’ annual party. It’s like every other Halloween party, except I’m surrounded by people who should know better.
This pirate photo was from one of the last times I went trick-or-treating. I think I was 11, in fifth grade. It was rare for a costume of mine in that I actually planned it in advance and put it together myself. I told my mom I would need an eyepatch and maybe a toy sword if I didn’t already have one. I’m not sure where I got my idea of what a pirate should look like, but I apparently went with a Hollywood Swashbuckler type. The shirt and bandana were my dad’s. You can’t see it, but I hiked my pants up to my knees and pulled up some of my dad’s dress socks to simulate britches.
This costume was also innovative in that I was able to vanquish the bane of all children in the Northeast with sensible parents: having to wear a coat over your costume. You can see the striped shirt under my dad’s dress shirt. The clothes I’m wearing were so baggy I was able to layer up enough to placate my folks and show off my sweet getup.
As Rob alludes, I went trick-or-treating far longer than he did — from the sounds of it, far longer than most of our other writers. My last time trick-or-treating was in 1996, in eleventh grade, when I was sixteen, and the only reason I didn’t go in 1997 was the logistical difficulty of fitting it in between an after-school screening of Boogie Nights and drag preparations for that evening’s Rocky Horror Picture Show downtown. What I’m saying is, there are a wealth of costumes to choose from for this piece, because I trick-or-treated a bunch, usually with my brother, my longtime buddy Derrick, and his brother.
My costumes varied in quality over the years. My concepts were not always clearly expressed and my mom was not that into Halloween, though this made her efforts to help us with them all the more heroic. Sometimes I’d go with a store-bought costume or mask, though even at a young age I didn’t understand why a Mickey Mouse costume would include a shirt with a picture of Mickey Mouse on it. Mickey Mouse doesn’t wear shirts with his picture on it. I mean, he’s not an asshole. Unfortunately for my mom, this meant my better costumes required more of her input. I know that my Roger Rabbit costume from 1988 (I don’t have a picture handy, but there must be one somewhere) was not an officially licensed store-bought Roger costume, which was good because I’d be goddamned if I was going to imitate the star of my favorite movie by wearing a shirt with his face on it.
Probably the most technically impressive (and functional; sorry, cardboard box robot outfit) costume I wore came later: I went as Two-Face from the Batman comics. I say “comics” because I was, in fact, dressed as Two-Face in 1994, the Halloween before Batman Forever came out in summer 1995 and familiarized audiences with a confusingly manic version of the character, played by a perfectly cast but unfortunately Schumacher-directed Tommy Lee Jones. My mom assembled a half-black, half-white shirt and pants, but her real triumph was on the makeup, where she had to simulate Two-Face’s horrible scarring despite (I assume) a relative lack of familiarity with the source material. She did much better by that source material than Schumacher did, I can tell you that. I’m pictured here with my brother, who I believe was some sort of general street-goblin. The more important point is that we are sitting in polite repose on the fancy couch, as all ghouls and horrific villains are wont to do.
My favorite costume was probably Little Red Riding hood because it dealt with a lot of complaints I had with my other early costumes. I was very little, maybe five or six. It was the first costume that was mine first and not a hand me down from my older sister. My mom made me a cape out of heavy red corduroy so I didn’t have to wear sweatpants or a coat when I went trick-or-treating.
Another peeve of my early costumes was that they weren’t accurate. For example: one year I was She-Ra and my mom recycled a princess dress from another costume that wasn’t exactly the right color or length. In my little anal-retentive mind, that ruined it. This was not the case for LRR. In additon to the cape, I had a little red and white checkered dress with an apron and a cape and a real basket instead of a bag to carry my candy. When I was little, the cape was knee length. Now it comes down to my waist like a little shoulder cape. I was able to reuse the same cape for the same costume just a couple of years ago!