When the boys were little, Halloween loomed larger than any other holiday. Costume ideas were planned, committed to and scrapped for something else on a daily basis – all starting in July. “I’m going to be the Red Power Ranger! No, a Beetleborg! No, wait! Batman!”
Early on, I learned to stall until almost the very last minute before compiling the elements of the costume – or in the case of cheesy TV and movie characters, buying one. This delay tactic would would day come back to, you might say, haunt me.
It was the last-minute costume I pulled together for Hugh when he was in second grade. Like most kids that year, he wanted to be Harry Potter.
We already had a tall felt cone-shaped hat, which had been a craft activity at a pre-Halloween party down the street. Round plastic glasses? Check. All we needed was a robe, and a lightning-bolt-shaped scar.
Easy, right? I even had what I thought was a perfect vintage billowy-type robe hanging in my closet. It had been sent from Europe by our friend Rob, and was made of sturdy linen. I used it as a nightgown sometimes. It pulled over the head, had a placket of buttons with a small red cross embroidered at the bottom, and reached Hugh’s ankles.
There was only one tiny problem. The robe was white. Didn’t the students at Hogwarts occasionally wear robes that were not black? Hugh wasn’t convinced of this, but there we were at the last minute. No time for RIT dye.
The full horror of this mistake did not dawn on me until the kids were marching down the street in the school costume parade. Amongst all the wizards in pointed hats and black robes, there was my child, in a pointed hat and a long white robe.
I heard a dad mutter, “What’s that kid supposed to be, the Grand Wizard of the KKK?”
Any rejoinder from his wife was lost to the sands of time, as I was fleeing as rapidly as possible from the scene, my face as red as the maple leaves that fell, swirling, mockingly, around me.