When I was a kid I had this strange fascination with those commercially ‘boxed’ costume sets. You know the ones. The cheaply, mass-produced, one-ply molded plastic masks, brightly emblazoned with the latest pop culture characters.
Often times the proportion of the mask was nowhere near what it should have been to make you look convincing as the character. It wasn’t uncommon to have your identity tainted by that stocking cap mom had you wear. Even a tuft of hair peeking out from behind the tiny facade was enough to ruin the masquerade. And to think that the entire charade was held onto your face with nothing more than a single strand of elastic stapled to either side of the mask. Ironically enough these same staples were responsible for starting the tiny tears that ultimately trashed your mask, which, if you were lucky lasted the entire evening.
In hindsight, ditching the mask might have been a lot safer. You ran the risk of either suffocating trying to suck oxygen through that tiny mouth slit or getting hit by the car you’d never see squinting through those tunnel-vision eyelets. If your mask didn’t survive you could avoid the barrage of ‘who are you supposed to be’ questions by wearing that coordinating, flame retardant vinyl poncho that most certainly spelled out in bold letters your true identity. All this for a bucket full of candy, which was worth it if you could bring in more chocolate bars and suckers than that disgusting orange and black wrapped peanut butter taffy.
I still don’t understand why I coveted the boxed costumes as much as I did but I suspect it was most likely the slick marketing and movie tie-ins. I certainly have a greater appreciation now for the homemade costumes we had growing up. They were safer and more creative, but unfortunately yielded about the same amount of peanut butter taffy.