With all the drama we've been going through of late, and with All Hallows Eve almost upon us, I thought it would be a nice break to reminisce about Halloween in West Hollywood, California, in the year 1973. This is one of my favorite memories of my son's childhood.
My son was 4 years old when I decided I was going to make his Halloween costume from scratch. I mean, what could be so hard about putting together a costume for a 4 year old? Didn't every 4 year old boy want to be a cowboy, or a super hero, or a funny monster, or something equally simple to produce?
So, I told him what I was planning one evening during dinner, and asked him what he wanted to be that year for Halloween. In retrospect, big mistake. Without the slightest hesitation, he said sweetly, "Puff the Magic Dragon".
I said "What?"
I recognized the panic in my voice as I frantically tried to remember if I had ever seen a picture of Puff the Magic Dragon. A drawing maybe? I knew he loved the song but wasn't there also a book? Had I ever read the book? Did my son have the book? Was the book still in print?
What the (mild expletive deleted) does Puff the Magic Dragon look like?
During further discussion, I determined that my son had not read the book nor seen any drawings but only knew the story of Puff through the song which meant I could decide for myself what the little monster looked like! Hot Damn!, as we liked to say in the 70's.
Curious? Then continue reading below the pumpkin colored squiggle.
Later, unable to fall asleep, my mind was reeling with random thoughts: Okay, I thought, green. I think dragons are green. And, they have long tails with those spiky things going down them, and long toes with talons. Not nails, but talons. And, a long nose with big, flaring nostrils like an alligator. Oh, an alligator! I'll bet they're from the same family as dragons. Wow, I never thought of that before, I... Of course, you didn't! How many conversations have you had with yourself about dragons, you ninny! Now, focus!
Eventually, mercifully, I fell asleep.
The next day when I told my best friend - who lived in the other half of the rented duplex with her 6 year old daughter - what I had wrought, she laughed loudly and, frankly, in my opinion, a little too long, before finally sputtering, "Well, you did do your best to instill in him a great imagination so you have only yourself to blame!" Like that helped.
She did redeem herself somewhat by offering some old apple green, cotton curtains she no longer wanted which could be used for the body of the costume. Apple green was maybe a little too cheerful for a fierce, fire breathing dragon but a magic dragon called "Puff"? No. I didn't think so.
Now, Halloween was a mere two weeks away so I was just this side of full blown panic mode because I had no idea what I was doing. Nor will I bore you with the details of how I put this masterpiece together because, frankly, I don't remember many of the details because I was a single mother with a full time job, a too full plate, not enough time in the day to do what had to be done, much less creating a Halloween costume from scratch, PLUS it took place almost 40 years ago which, like it not, gives me a legitimate excuse not to remember every little detail, thank you very much!
I do remember using a pair of my son's pajamas as a pattern for the body of the dragon but everything else had to be done on the fly, so to speak. I remember using a wire clothes hanger to form the long nose, and hundreds of cotton balls as padding for the nose and the "spiky things" running down the back and the tail. I used black felt for the eyelashes, and white felt for the front teeth and the talons. The hands and feet were held in place by strips of elastic that went around the palms of his hands and the soles of his shoes. And, the piece de resistance was an appliqued pink butterfly "perched" on the part of the tail that dragged on the ground behind him. The only part of my son showing through was his beautiful blue eyes; everything else was covered in apple green dragon "flesh". All together, I figure I put in about 20 hours on this magical masterpiece.
And, yes, it was magical. For me. For my son, the 4 year old comedian, not so much. As we pulled up to his school on costume day with him dressed in his Puff the Magic Dragon costume and my best friend's daughter dressed in her home made bat costume (which consisted of a piece of black, gauzy material with scalloped cut outs as wings attached to her wrists and which, frankly, took about 20 minutes to make!), my son asked in a muffled voice, "Mom, how many teeth do I have?"
Realizing he was referring to his costume , I replied, "Two. Why?"
"Oh, no", came the muffled reply. "I think I'm a Bugs Bunny!"
I can still hear my ex best friend laughing.