The first time I went trick-or-treating, I was dressed as a dalmatian puppy. In what can only be described as ironic, just a few years after that my neighbors' newly-adopted actual dalmatian would lunge straight for my face when I tried to introduce myself to it, sending me into immediate panic and explosive tears. The nip it gave my ear (which quite possibly drew no blood) ultimately led to the expulsion of that dog from my neighbors' family. Their son (my friend until this incident) would remind me of that fact for years to come. The whole experience left me with a pronounced sense of guilt and shame in my own anxious sensitivities... and confirmed a long held suspicion on my part that I was a cat person.
Reflecting on this, I began to wonder: How many other Halloween costumes would prove weirdly premonitory upon retrospective review? The answer, it turns out, is quite a lot of them. If you look the right way....
The Fairy That Was Not Thumbelina
Ah, the great costume debacle of '94. I had a humble request: I was 4 years old and I wanted to be a tiny person. Specifically, I wanted to be the tiny person from this film. My poor mother, unassuming and obliging as ever, ordered the "Thumbelina" piece from whatever costume catalog we had lying around that year. Two days before Halloween, what should arrive at our doorstep but a generic tulle-covered monstrosity that bore no resemblance to the blue-gown / flower-crown ensemble of my dreams and every resemblance to the most boring fairy princess ever.
The prophecy? This was clearly a precursor to every other fashion let-down in my future: from my annual school-picture-day dreams of bouncy curls (which always devolved into shapeless poodle-poofs by photo time) to the day I discovered my legs were too short for off-the-rack jeans. Sigh.
Woody (from Toy Story)
By the time I hit first grade, I was in firm denial that I wanted anything to do with fairies and princesses and was instead pursuing bugs, baseballs, and all things boy. Since I grew up with brothers and on a block full of boys, I quickly fell victim to the stinging dismissal of "You can't, cause you're a girl." So I bought sports cards with my allowance and I stopped wearing dresses outdoors and I developed a talent for eating insects. As my best friend at the time was soaring on a sparkly wave of princesses and pink, I wound up living a kind of double life between dolls and dirt. And the outcome was that people stopped taking me seriously.
To circumnavigate a potentially serious investigation of gender bias and identity, let's just say that my Woody costume, which involved a not very well-concealed ponytail, borrowed cowboy boots, and a jumpsuit sized for someone four inches shorter than me, predicted an ongoing obsession with reinventing myself -- and an inability to convince anyone of its permanence.
Let it be here stated that I did Hermione right. This was the year before the first Harry Potter film came out. We were miles from accepting the gorgeousness of Emma Watson into our collective image of Hogwarts' greatest brain. The Hermione of Rowling's books possessed two defining characteristics: "bushy brown hair" and "rather large front teeth." So I crimped my hair and got a buck toothed half-face mask. Well-meaning candy distributors spent most of the night trying to comprehend who I was between my mask-muffled voice and doubtlessly mispronounced first name.
Besides an obvious prognosis of my destiny as a book-obsessed, rule-abiding nerd, I think this costume accurately forecasted a fast-approaching tumble into puberty. That mask's chipmunk cheeks were all the suggestion my body needed to bring on three straight years of baby fat.
I was particularly proud of this costume, because it was one of the first years I worked with face paint. My mom took a bunch of pictures before I headed off to a party with some high school friends, and she later told me that the employees at Costco Photo Center (God bless 'em) wanted to know who did the makeup for "that amazing cat face!" At the party, a friend of mine, for no reason I can remember, told me I was freaking him out and to take off the paint and my wig and to "stop being a crazy cat lady."
I am no longer on speaking terms with that friend, and I've since repeated this costume three times.
I'll leave that one to you.
Almost two years to the date I shared this costume on Inspirsession, I would be living in New York, watching the glamorous women of Park Avenue clutching their fancy designer purses and teetering on expensive heels toward the call of various midday appointments.
I -- humbled and unemployed, my brain sore from drafting too many cover letters and probing too many sides of my personality toward people-pleasing interview speak, scarred and stitched over as I reconstruct my own sense of being -- feel green. Green: inexperienced, simple, slightly ill... but also: fresh, budding, full of life.