(post and snapshot copyright 2013, Dawn Weber)
You're so splendid, in your ordinary costume.
You think so anyway. I guess you're supposed to be a grim reaper. Or a "Jawa." Or something. I don't know. This getup came from Walmart, of course it did. I'm not paying any forty-damn-dollars for the fancy, bloody costume you wanted at the "Halloween U.S.A." store. You'll only wear it once.
Anyway, have you met me? Yeah. C'mon, son, we're going to Walmart.
"OK, Mom," you said.
Things are always OK with you.
A few days later, I help you pull the thin fabric over your head, and gently place the Made In China light-up glasses over your brown eyes. I have doubts that said Made in China light-up glasses will survive the evening. I am right.
Of course I am. Have you met me? I'm always right.
And before the night ends, your dad has to duct-tape the frames back together.
None of this concerns you. Pleased as pumpkins, you are, with this chintzy scrap of black polyester. I know this because I catch your smile, Little Reaper, when your Death Hood blows in the breeze.
"O.K. I'm all ready for the costume contest."
You're excited. I know you are, though you try not to show it much because you're practically a man now, being nine and all. You walk proudly and regally to the judging. Just the way a tiny Harbinger of Death should.
You're pretty sure you'll win.
Me? I'm not quite as certain. At the party, I look around and see scads of kids whose moms obviously either 1: shelled out forty clams for "Halloween U.S.A." offerings or 2: made elaborate costumes for their children, using actual sewing machines. The colors, money and effort put into these outfits sear my retinas, like a flashing neon sign.
A sign that says: "You suck, Mommy."
Still proud, still regal, you parade in front of the judges with the others, in a getup that was probably sewn by a little Nicaraguan girl in a sweat shop. Now I wish I'd spent the extra money, bought you the nicest, bloodiest costume "Halloween U.S.A." had to offer. Or at least busted out my dusty sewing machine.
Because you didn't win.
Walking back from the judging, we discuss it.
"Mom, do you think they let the younger kids win? You know, since they're little? Because my costume is pretty good," you say.
Right here, I am nearly pulled to my knees with the weight of my love for you, your kindness and your absolute confidence in your cheap-ass costume.
Next year, Little Reaper, we shall go to "Halloween U.S.A." with a giant wad of forty-damn-dollars in cash.
"Yeah, buddy, I'm sure that's it," I say.
"Aw. That's OK," you say.
Things are always OK with you.
Don't feel too sorry for that little reaper or Jawa or whatever up there and his mediocre mama, because thanks to the above post, originally written two years ago, guess who plunked down a stack of perfectly good US dollars - forty, to be exact - for a costume this year?
Yeah. You guessed it - me. He wanted a "Slenderman" (whatever THAT is) costume, from Amazon.com this year.
And so he GOT a "Slenderman" (whatever THAT is) costume from Amazon.com this year.
Though it was twice the price, it is the same crappy fabric as the Walmart costume from two years ago. Probably sewn by the same little Nicaraguan girl. In the same sweat shop.
Ah, but he wanted it - badly.
However, if I'd have said no, it would have been OK with him, and to be honest, that's the reason he got it:
Things are always OK with him.
As far as the book, listen up, party people, because I have this very important announcement: Forty essays done! Forty essays done! Do you hear me? Ten chapters to go, and I will reach my goal of 50 new essays in a year!
Thanks so much to those who've stuck with me, to read - and especially to comment - through some re-posts and the sometimes very loud crickets in here. I'm using my new material to bang this book out - like a boss, y'all!
Here is another excerpt, concerning one of the (many) times I borrowed My Buddy Al's umbrella:
"The last time I borrowed Al's umbrella, it was raining sideways. No such thing as sideways rain, you say? It's Ohio - it rains however the hell it wants, and often. On this particular evening, the wind kicked up, in a sideways fashion, and blew My Buddy Al's umbrella inside out, busting the hinges. Broke it beyond repair.
Soaking wet, I hunched my way through the rest of the trek to the car, where I climbed in and threw Al's now useless umbrella into my backseat. Then, before he arrived at work the next day, I snuck over to his file cabinet and slid its mangled, lifeless body back into the drawer.
Do not judge me. He never used the umbrella, so I didn't think he'd discover it anytime soon.
Covering your tracks: It's a Youngstown Thing.
No, I didn't feel guilty - just a bit nervous. The man is mostly a gentle giant, however, if he's in a certain mood, Al has been known to pelt me with stress balls . . ."