Friday Frivolity: Custom Costumes

Journey back with me to October 2005…preparing custom costumes for Halloween:

What’s happened to Halloween?  When I was a kid we made costumes from whatever was around the house.  Oh, there may have been a few “costumes” available for purchase, but mostly kids either painted their faces or put on one of those silly stiff masks.  You know, the ones that you couldn’t keep both eye holes lined up at the same time and the mouth hole got soggy.  Now they’ve got stores that are only open in October.  You can be almost anyone or anything you want, depending on how much you want to spend.

Spend?  Even with my kids I never spent much.  A buck or two maybe for “makeup”, but buy a costume?  NOT.  Once I painted some dots on an old T-shirt of mine, stuffed it with a pillow, and drew an exaggerated white smile on Sheila’s face.  Cost?…Maybe a quarter for the smile.

As for my “older” Dawn, her “maturity” required more sophisticated costuming.  I stuck her in a box, painted her face and told her she was a Jack-in-the-Box…go!   What would you expect from a guy who, more often than not, was a hobo for trick or treat.

Anyway, about the same era that I’m master-crafting oversized clown shoes for Sheila and enhancing Dawn’s borrowed hospital volunteer’s uniform from her grandma, Sue [then a great friend…now my wife] is creating masterpieces for Chris and Kim.  They got costumes made out of cloth and fur, not cardboard.

But, hey, Sue can sew.  My skill level is duct tape, paint and a box-cutter.  Sheila got cardboard butterfly wings.  Kim got a fluffy, loveable leopard, …with whiskers, no less.  And Chris gets adorned in fringed suede skirt & vest as an Indian maiden…complete with custom, Finnie Tribal pattern, beadwork, headband.  Dawn had to settle for being a box of cereal.  KIX, I think.

Now, along come the grandkids.  I told Chelsea I’d paint some chartreuse spots on a pair of dark green tights and she could go as a frog.  Plus, I’d even make some flipper feet for her …out of cardboard of course.  “NO!” came her adamant retort  “I want to be a gypsy.  Grandma’s going to make it for me–thank you very much.”  (hmmm, did I detect an air of snootiness in her voice).

Oh, and Amara wanted to be a butterfly,  ……no, no, no, I think I want to be Tinkerbell.  …or maybe I’ll be the tooth fairy.  …no, I want to be an animal.  Great, the offer is still open for Frog.

“No, Ed, she’s not going to be a frog.” (more snootiness, from Sue this time).  “We’re going to get patterns and material at Wal-Mart.”

Sue was sewing for a week.  Well, she wasn’t exactly sewing all the time.  No less than 10 more trips to stores for materials…3 just to get the right grommets for me to install so Chelsea can lace up a corset.  What the heck does a thirteen year old need a corset for.  Ohhhh, I should have known.  Gypsy’s wore corsets.  Excuuuuuse me!  (my turn for snooty).

Whew, I’m sure glad Amara was willing to settle for a store bought, ready made, tooth fairy costume.  A hundred costumes in the rack priced around ten bucks and I gotta pick out Barbie Fairytopia Dahlia.

I guess you know that such a prestige logo is license to gouge.  However, once Amara got it in her clutches and “really, really liked it”, there was no putting it back.

For this costume there was no need for sewing, no grommets, not even any cardboard for me to cut.  Ahhh, but what’s a tooth fairy without a magic tooth wand.  I think she saw it advertised on TV.  So, I carved a 10 inch molar out of Styrofoam.  Gee, that stuff makes a heck of a mess when you saw on it.  Then Sue sprayed it with glue and tossed on some glitter.

Does anyone know how to get glued glitter off my workbench.

I’m tellin’ ya, these kids better share some of their candy.

Oct 20, Frivolity

Last Night, a drama we were watching on TV had a Maine Coon Cat that was accused of feasting on a rabbit.  Considering a Coon Cat is the largest of the domesticated felines, this is not without merit.

Those scenes reminded me of an event I worked for the MSU Veterinarian Medical School.  Mostly, I’ve been working with the colleges of human medicine, so this was really a new experience to be a Standardized Patient for Vet Med.  Though some would not be surprised if I were to portray the upright dog, Goofy, I was not the “vet”patient.  My Maine Coon Cat was.

Nope, I really don’t have a Coon Cat.  Actually, I don’t own a cat of any breed.  Nor did MSU provide me with a “patient” to take to the student vet in training.  When I signed up for this event, I was told that the University often provides the pet.  Such was not the case.  What a relief to hear they didn’t even have a Maine Coon Kitty.

I understand that cats can sense if you don’t like them.  Trust me, I would not want a 30 pound cat getting the wrong vibes from me.  Yeah, I said 30 pounds.  I’ve got grandkids who don’t weigh that much, but it’s quite normal for this breed.  Okay, so my imaginary cat, Taz, might be a pound or two overweight, but that’s not why I’m taking him to the Vet.  He’s diabetic.

Now, my SP briefing instructions are that I’m to portray an owner who is hesitant to give his cat the required Insulin shots.  One prospective Vet jumped straight from diagnosis to treatment.  “Taz has Type II Diabetes and you’ll need to give him a Insulin.”

“That’s a pill, right?”

“No sir, that would be a shot.”

“You’re kidding, right?   You give Taz the shot?”

“It’s not just one shot, sir.  You must give it to him every day.”

“So, I’ll bring him in every day.”

A second student countered my initial hesitation with; “Most cats don’t mind the shot at all.”

“You’ve seen my cat, haven’t you?  Just his physical stature would alert you he’s not like most cats.”

“But sir, he does seem to have a rather docile nature.”

“Docile?  It’s not happenstance that we call him Taz   It’s short for Tasmanian Devil”

Another student tried to ease my anxiety; “It’s a very tiny needle.  All you need to do is get some skin from the scruff of his neck…”

“Ah, excuse me, I might be able to surprise Taz the first time.  After that, when he sees that needle, he’ll be on the scruff of my neck.”

One future Vet actually sympathized with my plight; “I know this is not something you are looking forward to doing, but I’m also sure you understand that giving these shots is in Taz’s best interest.”

“Oh, I understand, alright.  Tell ya what, I’ll give you a half hour.  You go see if you can get Taz to understand.”

I assure you, in each case, the student chuckled from my responses…and relaxed.  Which is one of the greatest challenges of an SP.  Play the role, but don’t distress the student.  I guess I do that best as an upright dog.

One future Vet actually sympathized with my plight; “I know this is not something you are looking forward to doing, but I’m also sure you understand that giving these shots is in Taz’s best interest.”

“Oh, I understand, alright.  Tell ya what, I’ll give you a half hour.  You go see if you can get Taz to understand.”

I assure you, in each case, the student chuckled from my responses…and relaxed.  Which is one of the greatest challenges of an SP.  Play the role, but don’t distress the student.  I guess I do that best as an upright dog.

Friday Frivolity, Oct 6

This frivolity moment is a Readers Digest type.

The family was gathered to play a card game.  Our 2-year-old great grandson, Xavier, was sorting buttons—a “game” he enjoys.

Card games and snacks are automatic with our family.  When the snack mix was set on the table, Xavier motioned that he wanted some.

His mother responded, “No, Zay, you didn’t eat your supper.  You just get water and buttons.”