As far as any of you can prove, I've only dressed up as a woman once in my life. I was 7 or 8 years old and Halloween totally sneaked up on me. I had wanted to go as the Six Million Dollar Man, but I wasn't tall enough and I couldn't find anyone willing to walk behind me going "nuh nuh nuh nuh. A-nuh nuh nuh nuh" every time I scratched myself or performed other feats of heroism.
So, Halloween night came along and I was completely unprepared. No plastic mask from Kmart, no fake fangs that would make me gag and drool all night. I had nothing.
These were the days before political correctness had been invented. It was not uncommon for a kid to dress in dirty, ragged clothes and haul around an empty bottle of Boone's Farm all night. He'd stagger from house to house and when fawning adults asked what he was supposed to be, he'd say (or slur, if he was still in character), "I'm a drunk, just like my dad."
People went out in black face, for crying out loud. They dressed as Mexicans with wide sombreros or as Asians with exaggerated eyes. Try doing that these days.
None of that for me, though. When the 11th hour came around and it was time to go begging for candy, I went for the lowest of all hanging fruit. An old bouffant wig, a nice polka dot dress, some giant hoop earrings and I was in business. Add bright red lipstick, fake eyelashes and some lumpy socks for boobs and I was a red-hot Tootsie Pop, learning to sashay as I went and demanding candy in the highest voice I could muster.
"Trick or treat," I would squeak all low and sultry.
And then the screaming would begin.
I didn't have the banana-sized nose back then, but I think it's safe to say I was a hideous woman. Maybe it was the Adam's Apple, the knobby knees or the buck teeth, I don't know. All I do know is that when adults opened their doors, bowls of candy at the ready, they reacted as though the horrors of their deepest, darkest nightmares had suddenly arrived on their doorsteps. They'd scream, fling their bowls of candy in my direction and slam their doors, the sounds of clicking locks and sliding deadbolts soon to follow.
It was a great Halloween, is what I'm saying. By the end of the night, my pillowcase was full of candy, endless mounds of Kit-Kats, bubblegum cigars, bull's-eyes, Laffy Taffy, mini Charleston Chews, Ring Pops, fireballs, licorice (gross), pop drops and Zots. So many Zots, my mouth foamed delightfully until Christmas. Nobody tried to give me a gross and disappointing apple that year, possibly out of fear of incurring the wrath of the Hideous Boy-Girl Thing in the bouffant wig and polka dot dress.
Ah, what a Halloween. A couple of my friends kept trying to pull my sock boobs out of position and I got my high heels stuck in sewer drains all night, but what of that? The ultimate goal of this night of all nights was to astound, amaze and terrify and man, how I nailed that one. For weeks following my womanly debut, my neighbors couldn't look me in the eye. If I sashayed in their direction and spoke in my girlish voice, they would run away in horror, forgetting that I had busted their picture window with a baseball or spray-painted their dog.
Good times. Simpler times. In latter years, I would go on to don all varieties of expensive and elaborate costumes, but few could rival the thrills to be found when this dude looked like a lady.
There's probably an important lesson to be learned there, but I don't wish to explore it much.
I'm not saying you should dress up your little boys as girls; you probably have much better options at your disposal. I'm just saying that if money or time is tight and you find yourself growing desperate, you can go this route without worrying about causing your child major emotional difficulties. I mean, I did it and look how normal I turned out, am I right?
Ah. There's that screaming I crave so much.
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer whose antics can be a drag (get it?). Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.