October 31, 2009

Thrift Shop Zombie Horror Story

Teaching elementary school provided a fun venue for dressing up for Halloween. The year after I dressed as the Mathemagician from Norton Juster's "Phantom Tollbooth", I decided to go less academic and more... horror. I went to a local thrift shop and picked up an old suit for a few dollars. I never gave a thought to its former owner, and looked forward to getting it home and zombificating it.

Once home I attacked the suit with scissors and knife, greasy sticks of makeup, dirt, lipstick, and strategic rips, shreds and tears. On Halloween day I put the shredded, disfigured suit on. I rubbed makeup on all exposed skin and in my hair. I blackened a tooth or two. Mr. Zombie was ready to go to school.

At my small school there was a Halloween Parade in which all grades stood in the long hallway and did a walk through to share and view all the costumes. Mr. Zombie must have been convincing because some of the kindergarten and grade one kids either bumped each other trying to get by me, or started crying. I also noticed one of the staff giving me a scrutinizing glance.

At lunch time in the staff room the woman that gave me the inquiring look during the parade sat next to me. All the staff were streaming in and many were commenting on my ghoulish getup, and whether or not I made their students cry. Everyone laughed when I told them that it was the first suit I had ever bought.

Mrs. Q. said, "I could have given you a three piece suit. I just donated all my late husbands clothes to charity."

I told her I picked up the suit at Value Village, a local thrift shop.

She reached over and looked at the inside of the jacket. Distinguishing marks allowed her to identify it.

"My husband got married in that suit," she stated.

We didn't know if we should gasp in horror, or laugh at the transient nature of life, and our possessions. Since she had already released her husbands clothing to the thriftosphere she had come to terms with this difficult process. She enjoyed the fact that I could use the suit to provide entertainment for all the kids, and appreciated it's theatrical value.

Mr. Zombie went on, with Mrs. Q's endorsement to entertain trick-or-treaters later that night. We have never given out less treats because all the short, early crowd ran away as soon as I opened the door and they saw me. Unless they stood at the base of my steps petrified and crying. It scared me.

Enjoy Halloween and your thrift shop costumes.

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