Friday, October 31, 2014

Nurse the Hate: The Halloween Evel Knievel Fiasco

The Halloween parade was to take place later in the afternoon.  There isn’t a much bigger event in the life of a second grader than being part of a parade in which you are dressed in a costume.  I was feeling confident that day as my Evel Knievel costume was sure to impress my fellow classmates.  I was also under the impression that I would probably absorb some of Mr. Knievel’s daredevil attributes just by wearing the outfit.  The idea of being able to step out of my seven year old life of already formed quiet desperation and instead saunter around as an American Folk Hero was very exciting.  The air was practically crackling with energy as we trudged through lessons in the morning.  The clock refused to move.  Afternoon would never come.  The Halloween parade and costume contest would stay in the future forever like some sort of unattainable dream.

As a seven year old, I had limited experience with Halloween.  There were already fading color photos of me as an infant dressed in cutesy outfits like a bear or Winnie the Poo.  I had no memory of these events.  Staring at the pictures of the new parents, me looking confused in a costume and their glowing excitement of “we have a baby!” brought nothing back.  I do have one memory of being three, dressed in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform.  I was in the apartment building we lived I at the time.  I have a feeling of great apprehension as my father is urging me to knock on a neighbor’s door.  When the door opens an enormously tall woman makes a great fuss speaking to me in an unnatural high voice.  Baby talk.  She leans down to place candy in my plastic pumpkin, and then has a conversation with my father in her normal voice as they both stare down at me in an appraising fashion.  I feel uncomfortable, the attention placed on me making me want to run back to the safety of my room.

At seven I am an unsure little kid.  I want to fit in.  I want to be like the other kids.  Some of them are effortlessly popular.  They have a confidence, however misplaced, that everything is going to work out for them.  I’m just a little dork in a store bought Evel Knievel costume.  As I see the other kids begin to change into their costumes for the parade, I note the sheer complexity and creativity in their outfits.  This was the first time I really noticed that I did not have one of those Homeroom Super Moms.  A mom that looked at cupcakes as a blood sport.  While almost every other kid had a mother that had looked upon this costume contest as not only a competition with the other mothers in costume creation, but it was also probably a validation of their value as women.  Meanwhile my mother was probably reading Sartre in the original French and buzzed down to K-Mart for my costume between chapters.  She had no more ability to construct a costume to compete with these as she would have constructing a rocket ship out of plywood. 

This was the first time I realized that costumes did not necessarily come pre-packaged from a retail store.  I thought the limits of a potential costume were those in the "specialty aisle" of the discount store.  What did I know?  I was seven.  I was wearing one of those costumes that came in a box.  It consisted of a plastic mask with rubber band and the strange plastic material jumpsuit with tie in the back.  It was necessary to really embrace the “willing suspension of disbelief” with these outfits.  Why they wouldn’t have made the jumpsuit like Evel’s with the trademark stars and stripes but instead have crudely drawn caricatures of him in action on the front, I have no idea.  As it was probably made by a political prisoner in China that had no idea who Evel Kneivel was in the first place, it is probably hard to be critical. 

The parade line began to be formed by the over excited mothers.  Some tried to edge their kids into more favorable positions in line, to better their chances at the coveted costume contest prize.  I was in way over my head.  I looked stupid.  I was ashamed behind my cheap plastic mask.  They led us down the hall and outside on the sidewalk where we joined the other classes.  We marched in the struggling Fall sun.  Everyone was smiling, filled with nervous energy and the overstimulation at the enormity of the event.  I trudged along wanting it to end more than anything.  We finally returned to our classroom.  Mothers and teachers presented us with cupcakes and cider at our desks.  Kids ran back and forth to their mothers, eagerly showing off.  I got out of my costume.  I sat at my desk alone and ate my cupcake.  I locked eyes with a girl named Phoebe that must have noticed my downturn expression.  She gave me a hopeful little smile.  Knowing that she noticed me made me even more ashamed. 

I sipped my cider and looked down at my sneakers.  


At October 31, 2014 at 2:04:00 PM EDT , Blogger Not the Kook said...

you were born to be a DAREDEVIL!

congrats on the Giants win!


At November 15, 2014 at 1:50:00 AM EST , Blogger AZ said...

Gary sez Fuck'em.


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