The other day, the missus asked me what was my worst Halloween costume ever.
As we were gearing up for this year’s Halloween, I should have been prepared for the question.
I wasn’t, but sadly, I didn’t need to be. The answer leapt immediately to mind.
There is really only one Halloween costume I think of when asked that question.
No, it wasn’t one of those cheap plastic-mask-held-on-with-a-rubber-band and plastic apron costumes that were so prevalent in the 70s, though I wore a lot of those growing up (sometimes even for Halloween!).
This was a costume I wore shortly after leaving college, when I was supposedly educated enough to know better.
Ha! Like that will ever happen!
I decided to go as Shaggy from Scooby Doo.
On the surface, this is actually an awesome idea for a costume. I was tall, still relatively lanky at the time, and able to grow a goatee.
That goatee is more dear to me than you’d think, since I am utterly unable to grow a proper beard.
I loved that goatee. If it had been legal at the time, I would have married it.
No, the problem I ran into was the shirt.
That damned lime green shirt.
Ya see, being the late 90s, glowing green shirts weren’t really in fashion anymore.
But genius that I was, I hadn’t figured that out yet.
My first thought was, “Easy peasy. I’m a crafty guy, I’ll make my own.”
I went to a craft store and bought a bucket, a white t-shirt, and a packet of the sort of florescent green dye Navy Seals use to mark their location.
How could I not succeed?
This resulted in a light green, almost yellow shirt. I learned from the missus, in recounting this tale, that I should have bought two packets of dye.
Sage advice that came 15 years too late. Oh, if only I had met my wise, beloved missus 15 years sooner, I might have avoided what immediate family and friends refer to as “The Shaggy Halloween Costume Incident”!
Unaware of the two dye packet requirement, I gave up on making my own shirt and started looking for an already manufactured lime green shirt.
It didn’t seem like it would be a huge undertaking when I started. I would just look around and surely I’d find one pretty quickly, right?
Not so much. I looked everywhere.
My old clothes.
My dad’s old clothes (hey, he wore shirts in the 60s and 70s, right?).
In thrift shops.
In department stores.
And finally, in mall specialty clothing stores.
It’s this last one where I made my blunder, where I crossed over into worst Halloween costume ever territory.
I literally was going shop to shop, flicking through the clothing racks, pouncing on anything even remotely green.
I mean, I even tried putting on a yellow shirt over a blue one.
Yes, I was that desperate.
It was a long, thankless task. Which made the discovery, the perceived victory, seem all the more sweet.
I found one. A shirt. Not just green, or greenish, but Lime green. With a capital ‘L’.
I proudly went to the cash register and slapped down my hard-earned cash to pay for my hard-won purchase.
My entire body burned with the delicious sensation of accomplishment.
The woman behind the counter looked at me funny, but before she could speak, I told her how relieved I was to find this item.
How I’d been searching and searching for a lime green shirt for Halloween.
How hope had begun to fade, and a sense of looming defeat had driven me to thoughts of an alternate costume.
The funny look should have been a clue. The shrug after I spoke another one. But I was too effervescent to notice, and frankly, as the missus will tell you, I’d make a terrible real life detective. I’m always missing the clues.
It was at the party, hanging out with a large group of mostly strangers, that I sensed something was wrong.
I’d been single for a while at this point in my life, and was more than a little tired of that. I had high hopes that this party would open up some avenues of companionship for me. And I thought a clever costume like mine would help on that front.
It didn’t. The women, when they would look at me, gave me unsettling, dismissive stares.
Very much like that store clerk.
And it wasn’t me they were gawking at. It was the shirt.
My long-sought after, hard-won shirt.
Not even my lovingly sculpted goatee could compete with that glowing, bright green top.
And let me tell you, crappy beard aside, my goatee is a thing of wonder.
I remember the moment realization began to dawn. It occurred to me, finally, to wonder about the fit of the garment.
Because the fit was definitely a bit odd.
It hung loose on the top, and low in the front. This had puzzled me from the get-go, but it was lime green, dammit, and it had taken me days to find.
But standing there, in a sea of women who not only weren’t impressed with me, but clearly questioned my masculinity, I realized what had happened.
I’d bought a woman’s blouse.
I sweated underneath a zipped up jacket for the rest of the party, and I went home alone afterward.
Alone, but definitely a little bit wiser.
I had learned an important life lesson that I carry with me to this day:
Lane Byrant sells women’s clothing.
—And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My (completely free of intimate encounters) books are available!
Marlowe and the Spacewoman: