When I was a child I loved Halloween costumes so much that I had costume parties for my birthday in January. That way I got to dress up twice a year!
I don’t remember ever wearing a costume from a store and the few times I wore a mask I regretted it or abandoned it quickly. Even little half masks had a way of winding up stashed in a pocket early in the evening. Comfort and visual acuity always won out over the mask.
Over the years I’ve been a giant spider — with black, satin evening gloves stuffed with paper and attached to my back so that I had extra arms; a knight in shining aluminum foil — a good one, if a bit hard to walk in; a Renaissance minstrel — barefoot, with flowers in my hair, a long dress with a tight bodice and a lute strapped to my back; Ophelia — post drowning; and more than a few vampires.
Still my best costume came about when my plans went awry.
I can’t remember what I was trying to make, but it wasn’t working out. The picture I had in my head was not coming together as I worked for hours at the kitchen table and I went to bed in tears. I honestly don’t remember my age at the time, but I’d guess 8, 10 at most. I’d had a very ambitious plan, but…
My dad said he’d take care of it. And he did! He made one of the all-time best costumes. We still had a few old flour sacks around from my grandparent’s bakery. He turned one upside down and cut holes for my head and arms. He then copied, in crayon, the intricate, Indian-inspired elephant design from the Tetley tea box onto the sack; made a hexagon-shaped tag (a giant version of the real thing); and attached it with string to the sack.
I was a giant Tetley tea bag!
Of course my dad didn’t stop there. One of the original “Mad Men” of the ad world, he put the classic Lipton tea slogan on the back of my flour sack costume — “I’d Sooner Lipton.” It was a hoot! I wore a few times. Once when I was in high school. It was a totally cool costume.