So, I'm not in costume this year. In fact, I don't go in costume most years.
Why? One of the most wonderful nights of my childhood.
First, you need to know that I spent a lot of time in the hospital as a kid. They put me and a boy, whose name I've long-since forgotten, at one end of the long hall of the children's floor, far from the kids with more short-term stays. Neither of us was dying, just hospital pros. And no one wants the potential freak-out factor when their kindergartener who just needs a tonsilectomy starts talking to the pint-sized hospital veteran about body scans.
My playmate was the first person I knew who had Star Wars figures. His mom brought one in for every day he had a test. I liked that idea and asked my mom for the same. And we paired up -- getting the complementary figures. He had Luke, so I got Princess Leia. You get the idea.
I hadn't actually seen the movie Star Wars at that point. But when I got out of the hospital, it was clearly a priority. My Mom hated it (and likely me for making her go). I, of course, loved it. And I was beyond smitten with ... Chewbacca. I think it had to do with my love of dogs. Who hasn't had a canine co-pilot? I know most folks think he looks more ursine, but this was a dog-man to my little brain.
I immediately made my pitch for a Chewie costume for Halloween. I'd never had a store-bought costume before and knew neither me nor my non-crafty mother would be able to replicate the look. I whined, I begged, I pleaded ... and I won.
The all-plastic costume (it was the '70s after all) looked almost nothing like Chewbacca. But I adored it. I didn't even mind that it had that faintly polymer smell when I finally put it on for the first time, to got out on Halloween night. Unusual for Ohio, it was warm enough, too, that I didn't need a coat. Everyone would get to see me in costume!
I was so excited. When we got to the first house, instead of saying, "Trick or Treat," I unleashed my version of that gargled mix of noises that pass for Chewie's speech.
Mom was not amused. She was even less happy that, instead of saying, "thank you," after I got my sweets, I uttered that same garbled sound.
As we walked to the next house, Mom threatened to take me home if I didn't shape up. I was completely exasperated, having to explain to this ancient woman (younger then than I am now) about the non-English speaking ways of the Wookie.
The back-and-forth continued for a few houses. Mom just kept getting more and more angry at my rudeness. I stayed in character at every doorstep.
Mom was not one for idle threats, though. We hadn't even covered one side of the street when Mom grabbed my bucket of candy and ordered me back home.
She wouldn't let me have what little candy I got. She made me turn over my beloved Chewbacca outfit, which she immediately threw out, and pledged to never buy me a costume again.
I told you. Mom was not one for idle threats. There would be no purchased costumes in my future.
I tried making my own costumes for a few years -- usually something simple that would be just enough to pass muster during trick-or-treating. I also made a few costumes as an adult, most notably during my years at Ohio University, where Halloween is a religion.
But none of them have surpassed my truncated time as Chewbacca. I don't remember the candy I missed out on. I'm not even sure who else in the neighborhood walked with us that night.
In my mind's eye, though, my costume-wearing peaked in 1977. No one can trump Chewbacca. So why even try?
*This is not me. But it sure looks a lot like it!