About a month ago—in an exceptional attempt to plan ahead—we asked Robert what he wanted to be for Halloween. Without hesitation, he blurted out “a dinosaur!” Excellent, I thought. A costume that blended an academic’s curiosity about ancient life forms and a young boy’s desire to inflict terror and eat people. A call was placed to my mother-in-law, the fabric maven, and patterns for homemade dinosaur costumes arrived in our mailbox within a week.
But something happened on the way to Jurassic Park. That same mother-in-law, who is supposed to love us, found an Elmo suit on special somewhere, and Robert was so smitten that he demanded to wear the thing everywhere—even while accompanying Mama on her errands. So the dinosaur idea died a quick death, and Daddy was condemned to dress as Mr. Noodle.
The costume is a full-length mess of scarlet fur, complete with mittens and booties and a padded hood with Elmo’s eyes and nose on it. When he wears it, he kind of looks like the tribesman who just killed Elmo and is wearing his pelt as a ceremonial headdress. Since the weather was so gloriously warm, however, the hood spent most of its time dangling behind Robert’s back. This made him look like Elmo had just been viciously clotheslined. Then he got hold of a Tootsie Pop, and I began telling people he was dressed as the actor playing Elmo in “Muppets on Ice!” on a smoke break.
We had a little pre-party with eight of his friends, and then we descended on the enormous confluence of over-sugared humanity at Stuyvesant Town. Robert had a ball, slaloming among the parents and playing the lame little games, until he shed his stifling costume and spent the rest of the night driving sticks into the Oval’s matted sod. And I—an inveterate Halloween-hater looking like a soft-headed dink in an enormous fake moustache and loopy cravat—spent most of the day with a goofy smile on my face, in spite of myself.
The moral of the story? Preparation is for suckers.