Originally uploaded by o&poecormier

when i was twelve and suffering the exquisite torture that is eighth grade, i wanted to be Boy George for Hallowe’en. i had never wanted anything so badly, with such angst and investment.

i found a baggy men’s shirt at the thrift store and safety-pinned patches to it. i had flowy pants and poorboy gloves. i hoarded all the bandanas in the house, and found a plastic porkpie hat somewhere that i convinced someone to lend me. i knew all the words to every Culture Club song ever written. i could taste it, that costume, the cool. i saw myself triumphant, transformed into someone larger than life, someone other than ordinary, weird little me. but i had one problem.

my hair was a whole inch long. and wigs were not something sold at the dollar store in 1984…at least not where i lived. wigs were expensive, blue-tinged old-lady hair replicas sold at upstanding proprietors. Boy George’s be-ribboned braids could not be copied by any wig i could get my hands on.

we lived with my grandmother that year, my mother and i, in an old, tall yellow house with slanted ceilings and sharp corners. we had cupcakes every Hallowe’en, the three of us, in that Formica kitchen…whether we were living there or not, it was my grandmother’s neighbourhood i trick or treated in. when i came down the stairs that year, all made up and swishy and awash in colour, long black-brown braids twisted with yarn poking out of my bandanas and swinging ’round my shoulders, my mother clapped and my grandmother beamed and when my mother asked, bewildered, “where did you get the hair?” my grandmother and i smiled at each other.

because it was her hair, my grandmother’s, a glossy braid that had hung to her waist when she was twelve. cut while WWI was still raging in Europe, it had lain coiled in a cedar chest for almost seven decades, peeked at but undisturbed.

and then i’d raped it. with her express permission, her blessing, i’d plundered that thick plait, torn it to pieces, tarted it up with rags and elastics and ribbons to make a Hallowe’en costume. a costume of Boy freaking George. a costume of which no pictures even exist, because the camera was broken most of that year. and the hair – that beautiful braid – when untangled at the end of the evening was ruined, brittle as it was after all those years, impossible to return to its coil. i tried. my grandmother said, gently, “don’t worry.”

i felt beautiful, and interesting, and magical in that costume. i doubt half the people who saw me had any clue who i was. i doubt my grandmother would have recognized the real Boy George if he’d waltzed into her living room that night. but i felt like royalty, inheritance tumbling over one eye in the signature kiss curl as i winked floridly to every candy-giver and minced my way off into the October night.

a part of me still feels shame about what i did to that braid…that artifact, that piece of history. and a part of me thinks my grandmother was wise as shit, and sends up a “thank you” and a smile every Hallowe’en, as i eat my ritual cupcake.
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Oscar wanted to wear the same Hallowe’en costume – an elephant – that he wore last year.

i figured, great. it’s cute, it’s warm, it still sorta fits him, it saves me buying (erm…or making, but really, we’re talking buying here) a new one. what does he know the difference?

dandy. until i went to take him to the same sitter’s as last year…in the same costume. and i went to put up his photo here on the site…in the same costume. and a little voice at the back of my head shrills, what kind of mother puts her kid in the same costume two years in a row?!?!

damn. more costume guilt. how about the fact that i borrowed a costume for Posey, failed to take her anywhere much at all in it, and didn’t even get a decent picture.

fail.

but we had fun. :) and Posey smiled today, even if no photographic evidence exists outside my memory. happy Halllowe’en, everyone. may the candy be plentiful and the spooking be sweet…and may i suggest a cupcake or two?