A couple of weeks ago, I heard two moms talking on their way from drop off at the elementary school by my house. Actually, it was just one mom doing all the talking. The other barely had a chance to say “uh huh” and “OK” and seemed sorry she’d gotten dragged into walking with this other mom, who was ranting:
“It’s an outrage. An OUTRAGE. I could understand if they want to teach the kids about the concept of Saints’ Day, but to make each one pick a saint and then ask us to sew them a costume is ridiculous. An outrage. We need to form a united front and let the school know what an outrage this is. It’s an impossible ask. Do they think we have nothing else to do? And what if we’re opposed to saints! I don’t know how I feel about saints. I’m certainly not going to sew one.”
I think my mom would’ve felt the same way about saints.
She reacts to any religious agenda by making the same face she makes if she smells a carton of sour milk.
But in terms of sewing costumes, she is a saint. (Or was. If I asked her to sew me a costume now, she’d probably point me to one of the many popup stores in storefronts formerly occupied by restaurants that couldn’t afford the rent hike. They’re all over the neighborhood, selling every variety of sexy ___. Why not just go as Sexy Slut?)
When I was a kid, though?
Mom was a willing, one-woman sweat shop.
She sat at that Singer sewing machine and made anything I told her to. No health benefits, little pay.
I say “little” pay because it turns out there was a small fee. My mom revealed just recently that she wrote her own pay check by pilfering from our candy stashes on a nightly basis.
I never suspected her.
Never, ever. My mom is so honest that she cried the time I stole a Brach’s caramel from the bulk bin at the supermarket at age 6 or so, and the time I revealed, in my 20s, that I’d stolen a fancy hotel bathrobe.
Which is a brilliant cover if you want to filch your kids’ Snickers, Choco-lites, Chunky bars and Milky Ways. No wonder my stash got down to the unwanted Smarties and banana-flavored Tootsie Rolls and wrapped hard candies (really, Apartment 18 C? Peppermints I can get from a bowl at a diner register?) and stale mini-boxes of Sun Maid Raisins from old ladies so fast. Now I see the genius.
She deserved those bite-size minis, though. She made some great costumes.
Favorite costumes: 1) The M&M’s bag, pictured. A curtain rod for the top? How did Mom come up with that? Before youtube tutorials, there were just Butterick sewing pattern books, which were good for the calico square-dance skirts Mom sewed me for camp, but you know there was no M&Ms costume pattern in there. Go Mom! 2) A soft-sculpture chocolate-chip cookie. A knock-off of the bagel and lox my friend Rachel had worn the year before, it was not only edible-looking, but easy to wear. It left my head in the clear, and I didn’t even have to take it off to go to the bathroom. Everything you want in a costume.
Almost-cancelled costume: the garbage can costume she made for my sister. Before the internet, it was no small task to source large sheets of corrugated cardboard. After she perfected it, with a lid and everything, my dad the psychoanalyst objected to the whole idea. He felt that going as a garbage can reflected, and reinforced, a poor self-image. My mom either won the argument by pointing out that the world’s most famous garbage dweller was named Oscar the Grouch, not Oscar the Self-Loather, or by saying, “Why don’t YOU make her a new costume, then?”
Worst costume ever: Bloody vampire. My mom made me a decent cape, and I guess I had false teeth, but instead of finding fake blood, I poured ketchup all over the dark felt cape. I knew that professionals used ketchup as a substitute for blood in movies. Too bad I didn’t know that ketchup doesn’t show on dark purple felt, but does mat it down and makes you stink like a hot dog all night.
What were your best and worst costumes ever?
What was the worst candy in your stash, and how long did your stash last?
If you have kids, do you make their costumes?
Do you steal their candy?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.