Nurse the Hate: Hate the Costume Contest
On Halloween when I was in second grade, we had a costume contest and parade in my school. My mother, who had the homemaking skills of a 19 year old college boy, sent me out in a store bought Spiderman outfit. This being the 70s, the costume consisted of a plastic mask and a pull on smock made of a synthetic material that later turned out to be so flammable that it was used as fuel in the early launches of the Space Shuttle. I was under no illusion that I would win the contest, but like a born again Christian QB in a sideline interview, I was “just happy to be there”.
Other kids had amazing costumes that their mothers had painstakingly made over weeks. In some cases, the kids had their mothers come to the school to help them prep for their triumphant walk around the playground in the upcoming parade. Seriously, it was like we were shooting a Hollywood film. Kids stood still while their mothers, and in some cases a team of assistants, put together their creations. “Jane! Jane! Where are the bobby pins? Alan’s cape is coming off! It will NEVER HOLD!” I sheepishly looked on plucking the rubber band of my plastic mask.
As showtime neared, we noticed that the teachers were trying to quietly shuffle one of the other students off. My friend Michael hadn’t changed into his costume, and looked a little bummed out. While over stimulated kids ran around and shrieked, he looked downtrodden as our teacher (the leggy Miss Volmer) put her arm around his shoulder and started to guide him out of the room. Just then the PA opened up with an announcement from the stern principal.
“Michael Schultz, Tina Stevens, and Lisa Phillips please report to the brown activity area in the basement. All other children, please report to the playground for candy apples, games, and the costume parade.”
The announcement was very matter of fact. I think our principal saw himself as a “tough but fair” leader, which is great since he was bossing around 7 year olds. My fellow students and I became abuzz with this developmental turn. “Why isn’t Michael in a costume? Where is he going? Where is the brown activity area? Is that the room with the spiders near the janitor’s closet?” These were the things we wanted to know.
This was the day I learned what a Jehovah’s Witness was. My understanding was that the Jehovah’s Witness kids could not celebrate Halloween, Christmas, or their birthdays. Their parents had signed them up for a religion that allowed no fun whatsoever. This was a tough break. I remember seeing Michael looking over his shoulder for a last glance at the fun he wasn’t even allowed to see. The door closed on him as he was led down the hall. I joined my other friends, and got a candy apple. I later lost the costume contest.