The year our Halloween costumes “petered” out!

(Dear readers, This is what I’ve Put Up With for the last 33 years.  The following is a column which will appear in our local weekly newspaper, the L’Anse Sentinel,  this Wednesday. My husband–who, I must admit–wouldn’t have published this without my permission–has told countless “questionable” family stories over the years.  Once, he reported about our entire family marching in a line “quacking like ducks” from the airport to the State Police post when our rear window was shattered after we returned from a vacation.  Another time he wrote in EXPLICIT detail about our bout with the flu.  It has not always been pretty. 

But it’s usually brought a smile to my face.  As for the photograph which accompanies this–would you have let your husband put this in your weekly newspaper?)


We were "Candles in the Wind", not two giant, ah, never mind...

Tomb whom it may concern,

The Drues have successfully navigated another Halloween. This year, by avoiding it entirely, nothing witch could make my dear wife, Kathy, happier. We used to attend very spirited Halloween costume parties. These were semi-pro costume competitions. The “what will I wear?” dread set in for Kathy sometime around mid-August each summer.

Some people live for the creative high of costuming for Oct. 31. They build elaborate, outrageous, top secret Halloween get-ups that take weeks to assemble.

We are not “some people”.

For years I shouldered the burden of outfitting the Drues for the big Halloween ball. I’d reassure my dear wife that I had the perfect idea, that everything would be alright. “Don’t do any thinking—I’ll do that for you!”  I’d tease her.

A couple times I got away with it. One year we arrived as shipwrecked “Flotsam and Jetsam”. We wore old rain suits, ripped-up life preservers, tangles of net and rope and seaweed in our hair. Outside we poured water on each other, and then stumbled into the party. We were a hit.

I went one year as Teddy Kennedy, sporting a navy blue suit, tie askew. I had a white shirt with lipstick on the collar, the shirt tail hanging out and caught in the zipper of my pants. A bumper sticker on my back read, “Put the party back in the Democratic Party!”. It sort of worked.

But the Drues crashed and burned on Halloween, 1997. It was our most embarrassing costume party. As usual, I talked dear wife into going with all the false confidence I could muster. Diana, Princess of Wales, had tragically died that August 31. Just about the only thing you could hear on the radio was Elton John’s tribute, “Candle in the Wind”. The original Marilyn Monroe ballad wouldn’t go away.

“That’s it! We’ll be candles in the wind! It’s genius!” I assured my betrothed.

Using thin white sheets of foam, I made two five-foot tall rolls with arm holes. We bought two cheap yellow flashlights and stood them on our heads, light shining up. Then, and this was the brilliant part, we rolled a leg of panty hose over the flashlights, and over our heads, to hold the whole thing together.

Voila—two glowing candles in the wind. Our daughter still rolls with laughter thinking we looked like a pair of giant, uh, oh, never mind! My wife has yet to forgive me for dragging her to a Halloween party dressed as a giant never mind.

My haunted history

 October 31 has always been chilling for me. Fifth grade brought the height of trauma. Proudly dressed in a red and black checkered wool coat, boots, and wielding a woodsman’s axe, I had an acceptable costume and was ready to hit the streets.

A quiet dinnertime phone call pulled the plug on Halloween, 1966, for little lumberjack Barry. My mother was an elementary school teacher. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Pelton, was one of Mom’s friends. Surely out of great concern for my future college entrance exam scores, Mrs. Pelton called to tell Mom I was behind on a slew of assignments. Yours truly spent Halloween pouting at the kitchen table with his nose in a math book. Talk about torture when friends arrived on my front porch!

My little brother, Craig, was steeped in a more ghostly Halloween experience when he was six. He looked like a total dork wrapped in the classic white sheet with two eye holes. Mom had done her best but junior wasn’t exactly convincing as Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Excitedly, a bunch of us set out in the dark to canvas the neighborhood for candy. It wasn’t five minutes before Craig stepped in a big, squishy dog doo. It was smeared on his shoes and the hem of his Casper suit. Nothing I could say lessened the horror. Panicked, he ran home crying, his night done before we hit the first front porch.

I did what any caring big brother would do. At each house I calmly told them I needed two candies because my little brother stepped in dog doo and had to go home. It worked every time, probably because no one could have made that up!

Later that night bro and I spread the candy on the floor and split the loot. We survived, our dignity barely intact, but the die was cast for a lifetime of Halloween horrors!

 (Thanks for the memories, Barry…I think…  Love, Kathy, your Candle in the Wind.)

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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43 Responses to The year our Halloween costumes “petered” out!

  1. Oh… at it’s best….LOL

  2. Susan Derozier says:

    I am laughing so hard here that I am snorting! OMG this is the best ever. Your daughter was so right at the resemblance.(not that I have much experience in that area, you understand). Thanks for a Halloween giggle! Made my week!

    • Kathy says:

      I was thrilled that you snorted! Thrilled that it made your week. (And I think Barry had great fun sharing this here.) It’s worth it to share some of our crazier moments if laughter arises.

  3. Heather says:

    Not thinking you would dress as *that* and before I read the post, I thought: rolling pins? Bottles? How funny! I always dreaded coming up with a clever costume, and have thus given it up entirely. Happy Halloween 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Heather, I am so glad we don’t have to “do” costumes any more. My life is much more stress free! I like your idea that we were rolling pins. Phew. That is MUCH more respectable. Glad we’re on the same wavelength.

  4. Dawn says:

    Can’t stop giggling. Husband is looking at me like “what???” and I can’t even begin to explain. Suffice it to say I’m glad my husband is not the creative type!

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, we were glad to provide the giggles. Barry was waiting to see if his brother would read the blog…and what he might say about the “doggy doo”. LOL!

  5. suzen says:

    Hysterical! Our most embarassing ever – first year in new neighborhood and invited to a costume party. I’m always one for making them. That year (kids were little) I said all I do is making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – so I made that for our costumes. We made the bread slices (we each wore one) out of cardboard, faux painted a bread coloration (quite good I thought) and made two sacks one tan, one grape colored. We “stuck” together of course. Little did we know this crowd all RENTED costumes, like Marie Antoinette was there in splendor! They had black lights so our colors weren’t showing, the bread looked gray and they all laughed and said we looked like tombstones?????? This was AFTER not being able to navigate their stupid obstacle course. Found ourselves left alone in a corner. It remained that way for years til we moved out of the neighborhood – first impressions, hmmm, not so good I guess.

    • Dawn says:

      Ha! they were just jealous of your creativity! Silly people didn’t know how to have a good time!

    • Kathy says:

      SuZen–I started giggling when reading of your most embarassing Halloween, and then I started feeling soooo sad for you. And relating fully to what you must have felt! I swear, these crazy things we do make for good life-long stories, don’t they? And, yes, I agree with Dawn. They were probably secretly envious of your creativity and all longed to be pb&j’s too. 🙂

  6. Barb says:

    Hilarious – esp since I thought you were costumed as paper towel dispensers!

  7. Colleen says:

    Barry, you are very funny!! We’ll be laughing for the rest of the night. The gift of humor and words obviously runs deep in your family 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Colleen, part of what makes our relationship work is our mutual love of humor and words. We are always trying to outwit one another with clever turns-of-phrase. P.S. Barry was happy that you all had so many good things to say about his column.

      • Colleen says:

        It would be so great to be able to read Barry’s column but I think you once mentioned that it was only available by reading the local paper. If it does become available in any other way we would love to know. Maybe syndication somewhere/sometime down the road?

        • Kathy says:

          Weekly newspapers (well all newspapers) seem to be having a rough go of it, Colleen. Young people, especially, don’t read newspapers any more…they go to their news on-line. The publisher has decided not to put an on-line version on the net…but I will surely tell you if he changes his mind.

    Happy Halloween, Kathy & Barry 🙂

  9. Sybil says:

    Barry, if your marriage ever breaks up, give me a call !! 😉

    • Kathy says:

      OK, I laughed out LOUD at this, Sybil, and gave him the message. It may happen some day, but it’s doubtful. “Flotsam and Jetsam forever,” he said.

  10. bearyweather says:

    Thanks for the Halloween giggle. 😉

  11. Susan D says:

    Thanks so much for morning belly laughs at the fearless Halloween adventures!! Just love reading about the fits and misfits, and antics. Happy Halloween to one of my favorite couples ever!

    • Kathy says:

      Belly laughs are good medicine! Glad you enjoyed our Halloween tale. Happy Halloween to one of our favorite Susans, ever. LOL! There are so many of you…

  12. Kathy says:

    Waxing with Enthusiastic laughter as you both light the way
    to a fun holiday. Happy Halloween and thanks for the treat of a story.

  13. holessence says:

    Kathy – I can’t get past laughing hysterically at the photo of “two candles in the wind.” Yea, right!

  14. Martha Bergin says:

    Well, at first glance, I wouldn’t have let him publish the picture! And then, a second look (remember I still didn’t know what the costumes were supposed to be), and I thought… maybe they’re giant baby bottles… and then when I read the blog I went back up to the picture and thought to myself, “That’s one of those things where you had to be there!” Ahem. As you know, I’m no stick in the mud. Maybe I should dress as a stick in the mud today, but I guest I WOULD let him publish the pictures, as long as we could explain (over and over) what they were actually supposed to be!

    I salute your creativity and sense of fun, and the fact that you share it together! You GO, guys!!! : )

    • Kathy says:

      Martha, I think Barry’s column does a good idea of explaining what we were ATTEMPTING to be. I like the idea that we were giant baby bottles. That is good. I wouldn’t have ever pictured you as a stick in the mud. And I would NEVER try to make a costume of a Stick in the Mud. LOL!

  15. Long live the Drues and their sense of humor and creative spirit! *laughing and smiling* You guys are two peas in a pod. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Yep, Barbara, for all our differences–and we do have lots of areas of difference–do you want me to list them?–He is into boating, fishing, mechanical things and I am into spirituality, reading and hiking–we do have common ground. Peas in a pod! That made me grin.

  16. That was such a great and funny read…thanks Kathy and Barry!

    Booo….hoooo 😉 & Halloween hugz !

  17. Kiah says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your best homemade costume!

    • Kathy says:

      Ki, if it wasn’t for your insistence, this blog would never have been written. But I don’t think you would have let me “rest in peace” until this was mentioned. Thank goodness Dad took over the actual writing. Look for it in your next Sentinel.

  18. Ummmm – “candles”?

  19. Marianne says:

    That is hilarious, Kathy! You are such a great sport.

    • Kathy says:

      tee hee, Marianne! The paper came out today. I swear I will stay home tomorrow. And then by Friday I will have forgotten all about his column…and hopefully won’t be teased too much! Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for reading.

  20. Karma says:

    Very cute! Actually “ah, never mind” weren’t the first thoughts that popped into my head – you actually look like baby bottles to me! Ha!

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