Metro-East Living

Bet you didn’t see him in costume

Hobos were commonplace way back when.
Hobos were commonplace way back when.

There are two sure bets every Halloween season:

1. I will eat as much or more candy than I give away.

2. I will not wear a costume.

There’s a slight chance that I won’t eat too much candy, but there’s a slim chance I will wear a costume.

Sorry. I am fine with others dressing up in costumes, young and old. But masquerade is not my thing.

I don’t go to costume parties. Dog died. Car won’t start. Have to work. Sorry. Bottom line is I’m not dressing up as Zorro or Robin Hood and coming to your house.

I’m in the minority, though. According to the National Retail Federation, American consumers spent an estimated $1.2 billion on adult costumes in 2015 and more than $950 million on children costumes. And 44 percent of Americans planned to dress up for Halloween this weekend.

The last time I wore a costume of any kind was in the early 1980s. I wore the red Santa Claus Helper uniform in downtown Belleville for a first-person feature. The entire jolly Santa Claus suit, suspenders, boots and all. It was fun. But those wet, white whiskers from yesterday’s Santa’s Helper were gross. Sort of like using a stranger’s toothbrush.

A few years prior, I dressed up during a lost Halloween weekend at SIU-Carbondale. Somewhere, I know there are photos. Please, please, remember the pledge shared by every person who went to a Carbondale Halloween in the late 1970s and early 1980s — no embarrassing throwback photos posted on Facebook!

That’s it for my Halloween costumes as an adult. I wasn’t creative on costumes as a kid either. Most years, I gave it about five minutes of planning. Usually, I put on the grubbiest clothes I could find and smeared streaks of charcoal on my face. I’d drape a pillow case over my shoulder. Perfect! I’m a hobo.

Hobos were popular when I was a kid. They’d hitch free rides on trains. Every few months, a hobo would go door-to-door in our neighborhood asking for food, money, clothes. We never talked to them. Our parents told us to walk the other way. Hobo life looked pretty glamorous to me. Wear old, holey clothes. Never bathe. Ride and sleep on trains. Why would anyone want to work?

I am grateful for my parents for many reasons. One reason is they did not dress me in homemade Halloween costumes. The boy who caught the most grief in the neighborhood on Halloween was the boy whose mother could sew well. Huck Finn. Little Boy Blue. Roger Staubach. May as well paint a target on his forehead.

I was costume-less again this Halloween season. But I never say “never.” Here’s what I might dress up as on a future Halloween, but don’t bet on it:

Hobo: Wear my oldest clothes. Smear a little charcoal on my face. Drape a pillow case over my shoulder. Still works well.

Pirate: I could handle wearing a black patch over an eye and saying “aaaaargh” a lot.

Doctor: I have a white jacket somewhere to give me instant credibility.

Pro athlete: I have a Joe Namath Los Angeles Rams jersey vintage 1977 that has never been worn.

Zombie: Not a big stretch if you catch me early in the morning before I shower and fully wake up.

A few costumes I would never wear:

Famous Politician: But I’ve seen some rubber Richard Nixon masks that make me chuckle.

Slasher: I’m not going the slasher movie character route either. I don’t watch scary movies. If it doesn’t make me laugh or cry, I’m not watching the movie.

Space Stars: I won’t be anything related to old movies or TV shows about the stars or galaxies.

Somebody asked me recently if I could dress up as my favorite “Star Wars” character, who would it be?

“Spock,” I said, not seriously because I knew I never would.

He laughed. You may know Spock was in “Star Trek,” not “Star Wars.” If not, like me, you’re better off being something simple like a hobo or pirate for next Halloween. Or just being yourself.

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