Longtime readers of this blog will know that Halloween is one holiday I have never liked--even as a kid with costumes, parades, Trick or Treat and the sweets it brought. No, I disliked it all. Didn't like having to get my own children ready for the much-loved-by-others holiday. Kind of enjoyed the little kids who came to our door for treats. That was the best part of the ghosts and goblins holiday.
We all remember the times in our lives when we felt humiliated. No one likes to be laughed at. When I was in fifth grade, I finally had a costume to wear to our school party that was not something created out of a closet at home. We used what we had to come up with a costume. Year after year, I fashioned some kind of outfit that labeled me as a Gypsy while the brother next in line to me turned himself into a hobo.
But that year, I had a costume my aunt had made for my cousin to wear the previous year. I got lots of Carole's clothes so why not a hand-me-down Halloween costume, too? I would spend the whole day in my class and Trick or Treat time that evening as Martha Washington. How I loved the colonial dress with the long skirt. To make the costume even more real, a wig made out of white cotton batting went with the dress. I dressed with excitement that morning. Finally, I would have a real costume.
Joy turned to anguish when I entered the classroom to hoots of laughter. It wasn't the dress. The wig had set them off. No one said, "Hey, that's really neat." Or "You really look like Martha Washington." They laughed and jeered and pulled at the wig until I had tears in my eyes that I refused to allow to spill over and a heart that felt filled with the darts of humiliation tossed by my classmates.
Our wonderful teacher, Mr. Biddinger, soon settled the raucous group and the work of the day began with everyone counting the minutes and hours until our school parade and class party began later in the afternoon. The teacher had stopped the loud hoots and hollers about my wig but there were plenty of snickers and faces made, enough to make me wish the day was over.
Somehow, I survived the day despite hating to be in the all-school parade and playing the silly games at the party. How in the world are you suppose to bob for apples with a cotton batting wig on your head? I opted out. I had a hard time swallowing the Halloween sugar cookies over the lump in my throat.
Finally, the last bell rang and I could go home. I told my mother that I wasn't wearing the 'stupid costume' for Trick or Treat that night. She made it quite clear that it was wear it or don't go. I pushed down my humiliation and went out that evening with my brothers. No one laughed at me at the apartments and houses where we sought the treats everyone had waiting for us. It was only at school with my classmates that the teasing and jeering had reigned.
The next day at school proved to be quite normal. No one mentioned Martha Washington's wig. Not that day or ever again. The next year, I was back to being a Gypsy again with a full skirt, lots of necklaces and bracelets from my mother's trove of costume jewelry and a scarf tied over my hair. Nobody laughed and I had a great time at the party.
I got over that humiliating experience but, as you can see, I never forgot it. Writing about it today made me squirm a bit. Looking back, however, I think it was a pretty clever costume and I must have looked kinda cute in it. Sadly, my peers of the time didn't think so. Or maybe they were a wee bit jealous. Nah! Just being kids.