Earlier this week the Chicagoland area experienced what meteorologists call a “weather bomb.” Yawn. So not surprised. In fact, the only mildly surprising part of this story was that Mother Nature didn’t wait until the weekend to unleash her Chiclone. Not like when I was a kid. Back then she would coordinate her torment perfectly to fall right on Halloween, effectively ruining the holiday for all Midwestern children pretty much every single time.
Yeah, I’m bitter.
Most years, my Halloween costume was something chosen from the seasonal aisle at Jewel. Consisting of a tunnel vision-inducing plastic mask, complete with an elastic band that would always cut into my ears, and a matching garbage bag-esque smock, I usually dressed up as one of the following: Wonder Woman, Strawberry Shortcake or Little Orphan Annie. Whatever. It was all the same to me. I was just in it for the candy anyway.
Then one year on a gorgeous afternoon a few weeks before Halloween (that’s Mother Nature – a big fat tease), my family drove out to Sonny Acres Farm to do some hay riding and pumpkin picking. We also did a bit of perusing through their ginormous costume shop. And that’s when I saw it. Pink (polyester) satin. Silver (poorly sewn on) sequins. A beautiful (made of flimsy wire and cheap garland) shimmering crown. The perfect princess costume. My dad looked at me like I was crazy; it cost fifty dollars. I looked at my dad like he was crazy to think he could win this one. Come hell or high water – water in the form of very public little girl tears – I was getting that dress.
I lovingly cradled it in my arms as I napped on the way home. Already I was dreaming of Halloween. It couldn’t come fast enough for me. Everyday after school, I would try on my outfit and admire myself in the mirror. No more tacky grocery store costumes for Anna. This year I would dazzle. *jazz hands*
Halloween morning. It’s forty degrees outside and drizzling. Like most little kids, I was stupid and naively assumed that by the time I got home from school, it would be nice out. Nope. Because the sun was already setting, the temperature had actually dropped a bit more and the wind was picking up. My dad refused to let me go trick or treating without a jacket. A jacket?! Princesses do not wear jackets. Especially not ones bought at Burlington Coat Factory.
He then suggested that I wear my jacket under my costume… Okay, remember how I mentioned earlier that I used to trick or treat just for the candy? Well, put two and two together. There was absolutely no room between me and my dress for anything, let alone a jacket. My circulation and range of motion were already severely compromised by how tightly my princess sleeves were choking my upper arms. But discomfort and lack of oxygenated blood I could handle. Not being able to show off my beautiful dress? No way, Jose.
My dad and I began negotiation proceedings. I cried. He shook his head no. I cried some more. He walked away. I followed him and cried. He ignored me. I gave up. What was the point anyway? We both knew he had the winning hand this time. For one, minutes were a tickin’ away. The more time I used up bawling, the less time I had to collect all that sugary goodness just waiting outside my door. Two, he was my escort. I couldn’t leave the house without him, and he wasn’t leaving until I put on that jacket. I didn’t give up without a fight, though. Multiple times I would sneakily unzip my jacket, and multiple times my dad would immediately notice and bark at me to zip it back up. Fine. I angrily trudged down the sidewalk with pumpkin basket in hand and a scowl on my face, the grumpiest little princess in town. So the evening went. And of course everyone kept asking what I was supposed to be since my costume was hidden by my stupid jacket. “Are you a disgruntled child laborer?” If I were, would I be wearing this crown, jackass? Gimme my Snickers bar.