Sometime in early October, or even late September, it starts. Polite inquiries about ‘what are the boys going to be for Halloween?’ My standard reply invariably includes some sort of scowl and (or) shoulder shrug accompanied by ‘hhmph, no idea’ or ‘I dunno.’
Apparently I’m the only person-with-children who gives Halloween virtually no thought until it’s (almost) too late. Even my 84 year old neighbor had Halloween on the brain this year. Percy and I were walking to school to pick up the boys, when the-man-we-call Mr. Lenard stopped us. ‘On Halloween,’ he began, and I thought he was going to remind me to send the boys to his house for trick or treating. But instead he said, ‘I get the O’Henry’s,’ pointing at himself with his thumbs.
Ah. He wanted the O’Henry bars from their candy stash.
I laughed at both the specificity and advanced-ness of the request. O’Henry bars? Who’d have thought they were popular with the 80 and over set? Of course, ‘Mr. Lenard’ is no ordinary octogenarian. I found him in his garden one Thursday afternoon. ‘What have you been up to today,’ I asked. I expected something along the lines of ‘not much’ or ‘same thing I do every day’ but instead I got: ‘line dancing.’ Followed by ‘the guy I used to play crib with died last week. Guess I have to find someone else.’
But this was supposed to be about costumes.
I tend to think about Halloween around October 29th. That’s usually when it hits me that October 31st is right around the corner and the boys will have to wear something if they’re going to hit people up for candy.
This year, on October 29th, as we were driving around town picking up last minute things for the professor’s birthday, I asked the boys about Halloween. ‘So, what do you guys want to be this year?’ ‘I wanna be a werewolf,’ the Hen decided. (Though I’ve no idea why.) ‘I wanna be a Venu,’ the Gort announced. ‘A what?‘ ‘A Venu.’ ‘What’s that?’ ‘A character from Bone,’ he added, all early-adolescent exasperated at my ignorance.
‘What if you guys dress up as Alvin and the Chipmunks,’ I suggested, because I had this thought post-Halloween-2012 that we have these three boys and wouldn’t it be adorable if they coordinate their costumes. I’d racked my brain for well known trios, but all I’d come up with were Huey, Dewey and Louie. I knew they wouldn’t agree to be ducks…… and then it hit me: Alvin, Simon and Theodore. Blue, green, and red sweaters. Some plastic eyeglasses. Easiest costume ever.
‘No!’ they immediately dismissed this lame idea suggested by their mother.
But (un)popular opinion rarely dissuades me.
‘I will pay you, if you dress up as Alvin and the Chipmunks,’ I tried again, thoroughly excited at the thought of having adorable chipmunk children.
‘How much,’ they chorused, obviously intrigued by the possibility of financial gain.
‘Five bucks,’ I offered. For I was not about to part with a lot of cash to see my children dressed as (singing) chipmunks.
I was not about to increase the remuneration, but I was prepared to continue negotiations. ‘I’ll let you have computer time,’ I offered up my best trump card.
‘One hour.’ I couldn’t believe myself.
At the promise of sixty minutes of computer games, 67% of Johnson boy-children instantly forfeited their personal costume preferences……thirty-three percent, however, did not. Which is how I found myself arguing over the merits of dressing up as chipmunks with my equally stubborn, fellow first-born, nine year old boy.
‘You’re paying them just so they’ll do something you want them to do,’ he accused, as though he’d stumbled upon some secret plot. ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing,’ I confirmed the obvious, whilst wondering if my approach was, as he’d inferred, heinous, ‘I pay you money….and in exchange…you dress up as a chipmunk.’
‘I’m going to tell Dad,’ he threatened.
‘Go right ahead,’ I encouraged.
Without 100% voter approval, operation chipmunk couldn’t proceed, so on Thursday, hours before trick or treating was due to start, the professor and I found ourselves frantically trying to pull together the aforementioned costumes. I searched Google images for werewolves and Venus. He went to wal-mart for fangs, a red robe and face paint. I cut up an orange scarf for the warrior’s robe and a plaid shirt for the werewolf. He drove to the dollar store for claws. He painted the claws with black nailpolish and tried to fashion wolf-ears out of duct tape while I painted the werewolf’s face and put fake blood on his jeans and mouth.
The end result was……adequate. As in, the boys appeared to be satisfied with their costumes in spite of our aesthetic misgivings.
‘Just don’t expect anyone to guess what you are,’ I warned the Gort before they embarked on their candy mission.