I am blessed with a bunch of supremely creative sisters. (And just a bunch of sisters in general.) I have sisters who knit and sew, sisters who custom design their own fabrics, sisters who are photographers, sisters who write screenplays and children’s stories, sisters who are gourmet cooks, sisters who draw like the wind and sisters who craft like the dickens. So many sisters, so many skills.* If we were living in Austenian times, they would be described as “very handsome” and “accomplished” whereas I would be described as “merely tolerable” and “kind of a dipshit.”
My sister Cean has always had a gift for Halloween. She would win the costume contest every year at church, and the following year—in an epic display of laziness—I would go as that same thing, expecting lightning to strike twice even though I was competing against Cean, who always won.
I wish I was better at Halloween. My best costume ideas typically come to me in April and are instantly forgotten. I am too cheap to buy clothes and props I’ll never use again. I think I went as a prostitute or Axl Rose every year of my 20s because that’s what my existing wardrobe lent itself to.
Now that I have kids, though, I feel obligated to make more of an effort. Luckily, the only benefit of having triplets is that it’s easier to think of costume ideas that come in groups of three. Let’s see, there’s the Axis of Evil, a mirepoix, Wilson Phillips … and probably some other stuff that I’m forgetting.
For their first Halloween Bran, Finn and Jem went as The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. We had been talking up Halloween to Eva, our au pair, for weeks, hoping to give her something to look forward to beyond the daily drudgery. “It’s really fun,” I lied to her. “Everyone dresses up and it’s like a party in the street.” We lived in a neighborhood filled with young families, so I was hoping we’d open our front door onto a miniature Mardi Gras—a parade of small, stumbling humans in strange getups.
Instead, we opened our door onto a dark and deathly silent street. It was as if everyone had been killed in their homes by a noxious gas leak in the neighborhood. Or they were all at some party we weren’t invited to. I prayed it was the former.
We were disappointed, yes, but I was determined to forge on. I had spent $35 on a lion costume, another $30 on witch’s gear and 500 hours tracing the wardrobe from “Beauty and the Beast” onto foam core and cutting it out with an x acto knife. I was not going gentle into that good night. So the seven of us—the babies, Matt, Eva, my mom and myself—hit the street and wandered aimlessly in the eerie quiet. After 30 minutes the lion was sweating into his mane, the witch had lost his hat and now just looked like a small goth girl, and the wardrobe was asleep. It was time to admit defeat.
A year has passed since that terrible experience, and I’m filled with renewed hope that this year Halloween will finally be worth the effort. The boys are older and we’re joining forces with other parents and bringing adult beverages just in case. And I think—I THINK—we have the boys’ costumes locked down. At the suggestion of a friend, the theme this year is “3 Men and a Baby” with Matt playing the role of the baby.
Tensions are running high in the home stretch. Last week Matt and I got into a stupid argument over art direction for the costumes. He wanted to dress the triplets up like Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg and Tom Selleck as they appear on the movie poster from 1987.
“But Matt,” I said. “They are just wearing regular button-up shirts on the poster. No one will look at Jem in a blue button-up shirt and say ‘Hey, that’s Steve Guttenberg from the cover of that movie that came out 27 years ago!’” Matt conceded that we did indeed have a Guttenberg dilemma on our hands, but that we could easily make Bran look like Ted Danson by getting him a prosthetic forehead and a wig.
“But Matt,” I said. “Who sells Ted Danson wigs or fake foreheads in a toddler size?” Matt conceded that we most likely also had a Danson dilemma on our hands. After much debate, I made the executive decision that the boys would dress as three generic men (in shirts and ties) because I could repurpose their clothes afterwards.
I thought we were in good shape for Friday until I asked Matt about his baby costume and he told me he was going to “just buy an adult diaper.”
“But Matt,” I said. “If you only wear an adult diaper, you will look like an adult wearing an adult diaper. ” Matt conceded that we had a diaper dilemma on our hands (PER USUAL).
My part in the 3 Men and a Baby concept was a little more difficult. Initially, I was going to go as The Ghost You Can See In That One Scene until I did some research and found out the ghost is actually a cardboard cutout of Ted Danson that someone left behind a curtain during filming. As a talentless and unimaginative woman, pulling that together was a nonstarter.
So this Halloween, like many before, will be marked by my lackluster performance. But it’s not about me, it’s about my children. And I honestly am excited to experience Halloween through them. Come tomorrow, we will head out dressed as men and babies and possibly prostitutes. We will march confidently up to strangers and demand they give us things, like our forefathers did to the Native Americans. And if they ask us what we are, we will respond in the immortal words of Tom Selleck from a film most people have long forgotten:
“Figure it out for yourself, dickhead.”
(Sorry, that movie doesn’t have a lot of inspiring quotes.)