Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Favorite Halloween Costume

It was my final year trick-or-treating.  I was 14 and in ninth grade, and wasn't sure if I was too old to trick-or-treat.  A lot of the other kids in my grade were going to Halloween parties, but I wasn't invited to any.

I was too old for the cutesy kid costumes and too young (and chubby) for the skanky grown-up ones.  I didn't know what to do until my dad came up with the perfect idea: wear his army dress greens from Vietnam.

My dad and I went to our basement and he opened the green metal cabinet that I'd always overlooked.  Inside hung two pristine uniforms: my dad's and my uncle's.

Examining the uniform and the dog tags was like visiting history.  I asked my dad a ton of questions about his time in the service.  I discovered that he was in Chem Corps and got to stay in the states, while my uncle was a medic stationed in Germany.  My dad joked that his brother came back 20 pounds heavier from all the food he ate there.

I tried on the uniforms, and, although my dad's was too small, my uncle's fit.  I called my best friend Iris, and she agreed to wear my dad's uniform.

On Halloween, we donned the caps, jackets, and trousers and went out.  Trick-or-treating was not that fun, and at one point, the police even stopped to ask us where we had been because some kids vandalized a house.  I was self-conscious about being too old, and a little embarrassed and upset that I wasn't going to a party like everyone else.

But I loved my costume.  I learned a lot from my dad because of it.  I felt like I was wearing history, which made me want to learn more about the Vietnam War.  It was like I was finally privy to a piece of family history that had eluded me until that point.

I got to look at old photos of my dad and uncle when they were in the service.  I found out my dad really did have a giant fro (I never believed it before I saw it), and that he looked like the guy in Welcome Back Kotter.

So even though the trick-or-treating experience wasn't the best, the costume and everything I learned about my family as a result made it an incredible experience.

This post was written in response to this week's RemembeRED prompt from Write on Edge. For Tuesday, reach back to a costume that made an impression. Was it yours? A friend’s? Maybe it was a costume you never got to wear. Show it to us with your words, draw us into the emotions it evoked at the time. Word limit is 400.
Also, I'm sorry if this post is not up to my usual caliber.  My youngest, Goober, has been really sick with a high fever since Thursday so I've been preoccupied and totally unfocused.
Write on Edge: RemembeRED


  1. Great story! I love how we find connecting moments in the most unexpected places.

  2. I used to love wearing my dad's old fatigues, too! Although I would have hated to be in the military because I am not good at taking orders.

    I hope that your child feels better soon.

  3. What a neat experience! I hope you have pictures to remember it by, too.

  4. I love the connection you made to your father- how a simple need for a Halloween costume brought you closer to your family. I doubt any of the teens who "partied" grew and benefitted from the evening as much as you!

  5. I like the connection between you and your dad here. Also, I remember that awkward time between trick or treating and going to parties. Just like so much of adolescence, there's such a period of "growing pains."

  6. Totally remember the year that we went trick-or-treating even though we probably were too old. What a great adolescent angst moment...!

  7. Since I have never liked Halloween, I saw a lot of myself in this post. My dad was also in Vietnam and while I never wore his fatiques I do remember those dicussions about his time there. He has been gone 15 yrs this week and I was glad for your reminding me of this again.

    it was a wonderful story to share with us.

  8. I agree - you got a lot more out of that night than any of those kids at parties.

  9. This reminds me of when I was young and we went through my father's footlocker that had not only his stuff from Vietnam but from his childhood and from his mother (who died before I was born).

  10. Hope your son is feeling better!

    I love that the costume was an opportunity to connect on a deeper level.

    I also liked how you conjure that "a little too old for trick or treating feel" I remember it well.

  11. Wow! That was the best "treat" you could have hoped for. And if you had not been in that transitional age you might have lacked the maturity to have it mean so very much to you. Great story.

  12. I enjoyed this post. It was great that you could learn more about your Dad and the time he spent in Vietnam. What a great bonding experience!

  13. A great story--I love how you learned from and bonded with your dad. What a nice post.

    And the skanky costumes are really gross, anyway, right?

  14. Thank you all for the comments! I always appreciate them!
    @all.things.fadra-I love when moments like that happen.
    @Not Just Another Mother Blogger- I'm totally with you on the not joining the military. I like to give orders, not take them! And thank you, my son is doing a little better now.
    @MyMercurialNature-I'm not sure if I have pictures, but now I want to look.
    @Susan-Thank you. I definitely benefitted more! And I'm happy to say I'm still close to my family and love when I find out new things about them.
    @Angela-Those were definitely the years of growing pains. I would not wish reliving high school on anyone.
    @Barbara-I wish I knew then to savor the moments of trick-or-treating. Now I can finally do it with my kids again and it's still fun.
    @Kir-I'm glad my story made you remember something nice about your dad.
    @Cheryl-I definitely got more out of it than the kids who partied.
    @Alyssa Dyksterhouse-That's great you got to find all that stuff in the footlocker.
    @Nancy C-Feeling too old for trick-or-treating was such a turning point. Thank you about my son, he is doing a little better today.
    @May and @maryannsteiner-It was definitely an experience that I'm glad I had.
    @Natalie@MamaTrack-Yeah, those skanky costumes are totally overrated and gross.