It was 1978 or 1979, and I had this wolf costume that I thought was the coolest thing ever. It was one big jumpsuit made of soft brown flannel with a plastic wolf mask. I think it was handed down to me from a family with three boys across the street, which would explain why I thought it was so amazing.
Those three boys were rowdy and occasionally mean, but they had better toy cars than I did and never tried to force a Barbie on me, so I often headed over to try to get in on whatever game they were playing. Because I was younger, they tried to ignore me until I went away, but one day when I was extra persistent, they told me that I could stick around. I felt so big.
They had built a fort out of cinderblocks with a weighted down plywood roof. It had the look of a possible deathtrap, and I was scared of it, but when they told me I could go inside it, I did. They had never let me in before. I went in first, and being the trusting little kid I was before I reached the wise old age of five, I did not stop to think over the possible consequences that their shared winks implied.
Before I could even turn around, they had thrown another plywood board and more bricks in front of the door. I was trapped. I could hear them laughing outside, but after beating the fort with sticks for a while, they forgot about me and left. I hyperventilated. I cried. I beat my fists on the roof. Nothing. All the panic my tiny body could muster was not going to free me.
It was a hot summer day, too, so it was hell-hot in their. By the time the brothers remembered that I was in there and removed the cover from the entrance, I was limp and sweaty and suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Instead of being angry at the them like I had been at first, I embraced the first brother I saw and thanked him for his kindness. I think it was due to dehydration-induced delirium, but I loved them even more.
It was this Stockholm Syndrome that made me think the wolf costume was so damn fine. I even liked the way my spit smelled when it condensed hotly inside the moulded plastic mask. When I look back, I know that my dementia started early in life.
I loved that costume right up until we went outside and had to go door to door for candy. I looked at other little kids trick-or-treating across the street. They yelled Trick or treat, smell my feet / Give me something good to eat / Not too big, not too small / Just the size of Montreal. I thought they sounded like idiots. There was no goddamned way I was going to say anything stupid like that.
Then, I noticed that a bunch of the kids out there were girls, and every little girl I saw was sporting a tutu or carrying a wand or wearing a tiara. This just made the whole affair extra stupid for me. I was decidedly not a froufrou little girl, nor did I actually consider myself to be a little girl. Not really. I did know that I was not a little boy, though, and that I did not like how I was always lumped in with these fluffy, pink creatures.
There I was in my wolf costume, and every door I went had someone behind it who said Oh! What a cute little boy you are! By the fourth or fifth house, my anger was enormous.
I still thought thought my costume was cool. I just did not want to be outside doing the trick-or-treating thing in it anymore. I was not those girls, hell no, but I was not a little boy, either, and wearing the costume in public made that distinction all the more bizarre and disconcerting for me.
My parents still like to tell the story about how I came home that night stomping my feet and yelling emphatically I am not a little boy! I am not a little boy! Yeah, that was so hilarious.
The last time I wore a costume as a kid, I was ten or eleven years old, and my mother was pestering me to go out and have fun with my friends on Halloween night. To spite her, I made a sign that I hung around my neck that said SELF in black permanent marker, and then I went to every door on our crescent. The adults giving out the candy would stop, stare at me quielty for a moment, shrug, and then dump a few suckers or whatever in my pillow case. When I arrived home and my mother saw my so-called costume, she was mortified.