Friday, September 16, 2011
Yesterday I was visiting the second-hand shop at the top of my street (the "Helping Hand") when I found this super-fun old Halloween mask/ costume kit. This one's a tiger, but I remember they had a huge variety of monsters, superheroes animals and princesses to choose from. This was before 95% of all Halloween costumes sported images of either liscenced TV characters or Kim Kardashian. You can't see the price tag, but it was originally $ 2.79 at K-mart (or maybe SS Kresge, which was either K-Mart's precursor or the name of the store's amphibious assult vehicle).
I always loved pawing through these costumes as a kid. As you can see, the "costume" was a rather cheaply-produced body suit made primarily of that plasticy tarpaulin material, which the makers reassured us was "fire retardant". I'm guessing this was third place behind "fire proof" (no way this sucka is going to burn) and "fire resistant" (we'll hold out as long as we can...remember the Alamo!). "Fire retardant" probably meant you had just enough time to wave your arms around and set some other kid on fire before disaster struck. Like I said, these costumes were fun!
On the front of ths costume there was a cool image reminding the home-owner what person or creature you were supposed to be, so they could exclaim "how cute!" or "oooh, scary" while you waited paintently for them to get over it and shell out some chocolate, man. I love this image-the tiger, though somewhat malformed, looks suitably ferocious with extra-long fangs, although he also looks like he painted his toe-nails for the occasion, making the costume suitable for either little boys or girls (this was in the time before gender roles were re-evaluated, folks).
The mask is typical of the time; really colorful plastic, with little eye- and mouth-holes to allow just enough air inside to avoid asphixiation, but not enough to avoid the inside of the mask heating up like a personal face-sauna. As a kid, you tried to avoid "de-masking" as long as you could, but inevitably, you needed to either wipe down or risk having sweat running into your shoes. I usually liked wearing my mask around the house for several days before Halloween, just to get into the character properly.
As a kid, it was always a toss-up whether I enjoyed Halloween or Christmas better. I eventually settled for Christmas, but in terms of defining what "dressing up" meant for a kid, Halloween had Christmas beat, hands-down. Then again, Christmas dinner wouldn't fit through that mask very well.