Woman Encounters Obstacle While Following Rainbow to End

Really, I am in better shape than this. But sometimes it takes a glass of wine to realize it.

I just walked out the door holding two of Husbot’s shirts, folded. I am not on the way to the dry cleaner, nor does Husbot own shirts that require poisons to cleanse them; if they reach that state, they get thrown out.

I was headed to the coffee bar, which in addition to coffee, happens to serve a bracing New Zealand sauvignon blanc by the glass. Getting into the car with an armful of shirts by mistake just illustrates how dire my quest was: I am in a state that requires poison to cleanse me.

Yes, it is only 3:29. This is my first and will probably be my last drink of the day, if you’re not counting an oversized homemade iced decaf mocha and not enough water.

It hasn’t been a bad day. In fact, it’s been a good day. It just feels like it’s been about three days, since 6 a.m. Probably because I’m trying to steer us all to a successful Halloween.

I should have gone to bed earlier last night; instead, I sat up practicing face painting. Which I scheduled myself to do for two hours tomorrow morning at Mbot’s preschool. Not only did I offer to repeat last year’s effort, which was valiant if not entirely successful (read about it here!), but to paint a panel of sample designs so that the woman who will take over for me during the afternoon Spookfest will avoid the embarrassment of instantaneously forgetting what a frog looks like when called upon to conjure one onto a four-year-old’s cheek.

Facepainting is kind of like regular painting, except really fast on a moving target. So even Picasso might have messed it up. Of course, chances are, you wouldn’t be able to tell if he did.

I find, while I sit here with my glass of Infamous Goose, I need to list the day’s triumphs:

Harry Potter gown hemmed (with black duct tape) and ironed.

Harry Potter broom padded at the dangerous end with black fleece. Extra glue added between handle and bristles to preempt mid-trick-or-treat meltdown due to falling-apart broom.

Chipless Dale costume examined and sighed over. Projected chance that Gbot will actually wear it without a fuss: 60%.

Chances that I’ll mess up the face painting required to produce a smile and two buck teeth on Gbot’s lower face tomorrow: an even 50%.

Dinner made.

Garbage taken out.

Laundry done.

Car washed. (Really. Needed. To Be. Done.)

Doggie poop cleaned up off living room floor.

Gbot’s nose wiped (twenty times. Tail end of cold.)

Hands washed between doggie poop pick-up and nose-wiping.

A still-coldy Gbot cuddled extra and listened to while wailing over 1. missing his chance to count down for Mbot before he launched out the door to the playground. 2. missing his chance to strap himself into car because he was wailing about missing his chance to count down for Mbot.

Husbot pissed off at wife’s attitude when he came home from work at 2:45 to spell me ’til 5. Excuse wife for not breaking out her first date smile when he threatens to lull them to sleep at 4 pm, which means she’ll be up ’til 9 p.m. putting them to sleep again.

The good news: I am almost ready for Halloween! And my friends and relatives on the Eastern seaboard are safe.

Last but not least, about the photo: I took this two weeks ago in Idaho’s Wood River Valley. Every year, my parents’ neighbor, architect and spare-time-hilarious-actor-in-local-productions, Steve Pruitt, put this witch up at the corner. Steve passed last fall, having lost a long battle with a rare kind of cancer. I never actually met him in person, but many years ago, I saw him in Don Quixote, and I still remember how hard I laughed. Other neighbors have taken up the Halloween witch-in-trouble ritual. And one morning in mid-October, we found her at the end of the rainbow.

Trick or Treat! It’s Chip and Harry!

Finding time to write this week has been like looking for the Golden Snitch in a heavy fog with Draco Malfoy on my tail.

Gbot’s caught a cold, it’s his birthday week, with all the preparations that entails, and, of course, Halloween is coming at me like a bludger.

I don’t think I even got a chance to tell you what we were going to be for Halloween. Roughly in order, over the past couple of months, Mbot and Gbot were going to be:

the bad cockroach Spider-Man



the Bat Sisters

“a storming trooper”


“the big guy not the color of snow what’s his name?” “Darth Vadar.”

Chip and Dale

“the shiny guy” (C3PO)

“the guy who beeps when he’s mad” (R2D2)

Harry Potter

Luke Skywalker

a kitty cat

Han Solo

You can understand why I hadn’t ordered or begun making their costumes until last week, when I made the executive decision that the bots would be Chip and Dale. I bought the necessary fabric and craft items in order to execute my bossy mommy plan. My plan this year was to make the costumes simple and quick. I don’t have time for anything but simple and quick.

Saturday morning, I began and nearly finished Mbot’s Chip and Dale costume. And Mbot was in tears, wailing at the top of his lungs, “I don’t WANT to be Chip and Dale!”

Normally this behavior doesn’t faze me, but it’s a Halloween costume, for heaven’s sake. Who really cares? Not me. Mbot. That’s who.

“What do you want to be?” I asked Mbot, and he announced that he was still vacillating between a storming trooper and Han Solo. We can make you a Han Solo costume, I said. Phew. Easy. We just had to turn his doggie rain boots into black boots. I could figure it out. Then he went to play with his favorite stuffed animal besides Junepy, an owl he calls Hedwig. “I want to be Harry Potter,” he said, and I jumped on that. A boy wizard trumps an Oozie-toting mercenary for the costume of a four-year-old any day.

So he’ll be wearing my black graduation robes, hemmed about eighteen inches. He’ll be carrying the makeshift broom I made from a half-price piece of decorative bamboo and another half-price piece of decorative fall foliage at Joann’s. He’ll be wearing glasses specially made to stay on a four-year-old’s face (earpieces made of pipecleaners stuffed through black-painted drinking straws affixed to elastic to go around the head):

and, in my favorite part of the costume, he will be carrying Hedwig….in the inner portion of my asparagus strainer:

Mbot is thrilled with this arrangement. The smile on his face when I showed him was one of pure satisfaction. He brought Hedwig to Grandma’s last night. He fed her Chex through the bars of her cage and supplied her with water in an empty Play-Doh cannister. He put his glasses on again first thing this morning and “played a fool on me” that he was really Harry Potter.

I was reminded instensely once again of why I love the age of four. Harry Potter’s magic is nothing compared to the magic of loving a bird cage made out of an asparagus strainer.

Why Isn’t Anybody Peter Parker For Halloween?

The reality of the pretend: even Spiderman can be shy and clingy at a party.

After this Halloween, you might not be able to accurately ask that question. You’d have to ask: Why isn’t anybody but Mbot Peter Parker for Halloween?

Having given up his brief notion of dressing as a nerve cell (Your Body Battles a Stomachache is still a big influence in our house), and after vaccillating between a Ninjago and a Storm Trooper and a Bad Cockroach Spiderman (I’m dropping the hyphen–movie critic Anthony Lane agrees with me that it’s stupid, and the fact checkers at The New Yorker aren’t reading my blog (I only suspect)), yesterday he came up with a truly original idea.

We had friends over to play, and, as usually happens about half way through a playdate at our house, Spiderman and Batman made their appearances, complete with Batman’s froggie rain boots and Spiderman’s doggie rain boots. Batman settled down directly with his scissors to cut Play-Doh, but Spiderman announced that now he was going to turn into Peter Parker. “Help me put on my clothes, Mom.” I eyed him in his fleece Spiderman suit and held out his shorts. We managed to wrestle them up around his waist, but when he looked down, he said in dismay, “MOM. But I need long pants! My spiderman legs show!”

And I thought, But it’s 98 degrees outside! And all the pants are sealed in a box because it’s 98 degrees outside! Then I remembered that just that morning, I’d washed and dried a pair of sweatpants inherited from a cousin and left on top of a box in the garage, and that I’d noticed they might now fit. I ran to get them. They fit.

“Now a shirt,” Mbot stated. I went looking for a long-sleeved shirt big enough to fit over the bulk. I found a polo shirt and drew it over his head and he stuffed his arms through the sleeves. “There!” I pronounced, feeling claustrophobic just looking at him. I had a vivid flashback to 1973. I was five, heading out on the family boat, and had been stuffed first into an itchy, tight-shouldered fisherman knit sweater and then into a foam jacket known in Southeast Alaska as a “float coat”: unflexible, unsinkable, and cut like a suit designed for Ziggy Stardust.

David Bowie, also in 1973. Sure, this suit might be in the Victoria and Albert Museum, but was it comfortable?(watoday.com.au)

I am convinced that these inventions kept people from drowning because after being made to wear one once, people simply chose to stay home.

“But MOM! I need the button buttoned!” cried Mbot. Of course. One could view a red Spiderchest above the open shirt collar. I buttoned the button.

And then Peter Parker stepped into his doggie rain boots and proceeded to play for over an hour, looking as though he had a pathological case of swelling and stiffness throughout the body.

But he was absolutely content. He was Peter Parker. No one knew he was Spiderman underneath.

It is hard to have secrets when you’re four, and this was a good one. I applauded Mbot’s desire for authenticity. An adult might have just CLAIMED to have on a spidersuit underneath. No one would know. Mbot’s contentment came from knowing he did have on a spidersuit underneath. Better even than the superhero underpants that were underneath that. There’s much to be said for authenticity, and I’m glad he recognizes its value. Although he was a boy wrapped in a costume of a fictitious character’s impossible alterego wrapped in a costume of the fictitious character, he was being real pretend. He’d taken the measure of the fictions involved, and was in control of them.

So if you see a kid on Halloween in sweat pants and a polo shirt, holding a plastic pumpkin bucket, he might not have just forgotten his costume. He might be dressed up as Peter Parker. Wait for him to pass you, then turn and check for a big lump at the small of his back. If there is one, it’s his Spidey mask stuffed into his waistband under hsi shirt That’s how you’ll know for sure. Sometimes you only know the truth looking back.

I Picture Making Myself A Giant Pair of Wings

I do not have dreams in which I perform exhilarating acts of athleticism. My brother-in-law, on the other hand, reports experiencing dynamic mountain descents on skis and bicycles whether he is conscious or not.

I tend to dream things like my entire family is a herd of elk.

But yesterday, a conversation with Husbot triggered a memory of a dream in which I could fly.

Because yesterday we were at the zoo. We’d made it past the giraffes, the zebras, and the peach-faced lovebirds to the very furthest corner, the home of the white rhino. (He is white like my car  is blue–in name only, before the dust settled.) After marveling at the double horn that almost doubled the size of his already massive head, and at his whole unbelievably prehistorical self in general, we retreated to a bench to eat our picnic lunch beside a pen in which two furry sleeping balls balanced on a branch above a sign reading “ring-tailed lemurs.”

I asked Mbot what animal he would want to be if he were an animal. He wanted to be the rhino so he could step in the mud.

Gbot wanted, for reasons I have not yet ascertained, to be a warthog.

Then I asked Husbot.

“A peach-faced love-bird,” he replied.

He was joking, but he insisted he’d want to be a bird.

Why? I asked, to the obvious answer:

“So I could fly.”

And then I remembered my dream, the one in which I could fly.

It was the most remarkable feeling, flying. It was an exhilarating freedom, soaring on wings over rooftops. There were a few of us up there, although I can’t remember exactly who they were. It was so lovely and so…quiet.

It was quiet because as long as we were aloft, borne on our own wings, we could not speak.

We had to descend to perch on wires and fence posts in order to talk to one another. While we were flying, we were mute, isolated in our freedom.

I was glad to remember that dream. To recall not only the visceral thrill of soaring weightless through space, but the limitations that accompany achieving such freedom.

Then a herd of schoolchildren approached, trampling the calm and raising dust and hooting at the lemurs to awaken them, perhaps from dreams of flight.

So This Bunny Goes into a Phone Booth….

Available in 1969, still on shelves in 2011.

On second thought, maybe it is not a pattern for a bunny suit, but for a puppy suit with a gratuitous ruff. No matter. The relevant point is that no sewing pattern manufacturer has obtained licenses from Marvel Comics. And so, this indistinct pink pawed creature from the sixties can–with scissors, a measuring tape, a short stack of printer paper, Scotch tape,  a yard each of red and blue fleece, a tube of glow-in-the-dark 3D fabric paint, sixteen inches of Velcro, and thirty-four cents worth of white mesh–go into a patio home in West Phoenix and come out…

Is the real reason Peter Parker wears this suit to hide his pull-ups?


Red socks over rain boots sold separately.

And, thanks to the miracle that is fleece, you can be a super hero and be fluffy, too. (See I Just Wanted You to be Something Fluffy.)

Have you effected a stunning transformation?