When I was a little kid, my grandmother made our costumes. One of the first was a Brachiosaurus — basically a yellow jumpsuit with a tail, and a mask for the head and neck. The eye-holes were at the bottom of the neck, so with the stuffed dino’s neck and head towering a good two feet above my own, it effectively doubled my height. It was also tremendously hot, but I didn’t mind.
Later, when I was about 9 or so, Granny made me a really rockin’ Spider-Man costume, very faithful to the comics, and comfortable enough to just wear around the house (which I didn’t do … that often). Most of it was one piece, with boots, gloves, and a mask that I soon lost. A couple of years later, Granny and I collaborated on an X-Wing flight suit of which we were both deservedly proud.
Many years later, as a first-year law student in 1991, I went to the school’s Halloween party in a Starfleet outfit and claimed to be “Commander Bondurant” of the Starfleet JAG. The puzzled, almost pitying stares this produced soon taught me that sometimes it’s better to just wear the suit without putting too much thought into the backstory.
Case in point: my buddy Sam, also a 1-L, came as Peloquin from Nightbreed, with red skin, elaborate makeup, and snake-like hair. Unfortunately, the Nightbreed-illiterate crowd thought he was supposed to be Native American:
Random person: Wow, what a great Indian costume!
Sam: No, I’m Peloquin, from Nightbreed!
Sam: It’s this horror movie, and Peloquin’s this monster….
RP (backing away carefully): Oh, okay….
After a while, Sam just sighed and accepted the compliments on his “Indian costume.”
Second year I went back to the law school Halloween party (Sam did not) as Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi. The costume was pretty good, although I could only find a red lightsaber. The only embarrassment was having another classmate put a cowboy hat on my head and call me “Garth Vader,” and that wasn’t so bad.
For a couple of years I rented some appropriate period clothes and went as Sherlock Holmes, but without the cape and deerstalker cap, people just thought I had come from a wedding.
In 1996, a few years out from law school, I was Clark Kent for Halloween. I bought a Superman costume, modified it to make it a little more sturdy, sprayed my hair black, and put on a suit and tie over the costume. I wore a white shirt, so you could see the “S” underneath, but it was pretty dark at the party and I ended up taking off the street clothes. It was a good idea (and I wore all of the costume, including cape and boots, under my clothes), but not very practical.
After going as Luke again in 1997, I was out of ideas for Halloween ’98, and ended up going as the Malcolm McDowell Mr. Roarke. I had a black suit and yellow tie, and sprayed my hair white. Apparently this made me look more like either my grandfather or Bill Clinton, both of whom were undoubtedly more familiar than the ’98 “Fantasy Island” remake.
At this point I vowed never to be without a decent Halloween costume, and in the summer of 1999 found a seamstress who was making Phantom Menace-era Jedi robes. However, because mine didn’t arrive until December, I would have to wait to debut them until Halloween 2000.
And so it came to pass that, five years ago yesterday, I ventured out into the cold October night for what turned out to be an appointment with destiny — for at that party, I met the Best Wife Ever. The outfit was a good icebreaker, and it probably also answered a lot of questions about just how big a Star Wars fan I was. (As my cousin later put it, “So … she knows.”)
Now, we just rack our brains trying to find her a costume every year….