When I was little I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I wanted to be a mechanic. Somewhere in between, I wanted to be a stuffed animal so I could sit on the radiator all day and look out the window with my polyester friends. It turned out I needed more than a love for arguing and gear lube to achieve either occupation. And the stuffed animals, well, I haven’t figured out how to shapeshift… yet.
It was Halloween 1978 and I was a second grader in this terrible elementary school that looked more like a tuberculosis hospital turned insane asylum than a learning place for children. Back in the day, many schools were tall and intimidating with dark gray and brown stone exterior walls, grates over the windows and a wrought iron fenced school yard – some with pointed tips. I mean, it did seem fallout shelter-esque, though I never noticed the three triangle sign on the building.
So, I was in second grade, autumn was upon us and so was Halloween. Wonder Woman was huge that year and I remember wanting to be Wonder Woman so bad. Nothing else mattered but the Lasso of Truth and the Bracelets of Submission!
Wonder Woman Gear – Pinterest
Despite me not having friends in grade school, I had overheard some of the other girls talking about what they would be for Halloween and it was unanimous. Wonder Woman! This was great because… I loved Wonder Woman, too! If nothing, maybe I could get one friend out of this.
I burst through the door after school: “Mom! I wanna be Wonder Woman for Halloween!” I beamed.
I was going to be something much better my mother told me and my brain rolled with anticipation. What could be better than Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman was the s**t! Nothing nor no one was better than Wonder Woman except Santa Claus who was only better in December!
It turned out that because we were so poor, a Wonder Woman costume was not in the cards for me. My mother told me this while holding a pair of pastel-colored pajamas in yellow and green.
“What are they?” I asked while my stomach flip-flopped like a dying fish.
“It’s a costume.”
“It looks like pajamas,” I corrected her.
“Well, not really. It is a costume. You’re going to be a clown.”
“A what?” My face flushed. “A clown?”
“Yes. A clown.”
I pondered this for a bit since clowns were creepy and maybe that would scare all those little brats at school into submission!
“Okay. Where is the rest of the costume?”
My mother never spared my feelings so instead of hemming and hawing she told me straight up: “There is no rest of the costume.”
The next day I went to school with my costume in a bag like all the other kids and at lunch time changed into my costume just like all the other kids.
“But it’s not even clown colors. Where are the clown shoes? The clown nose? Where is the clown makeup?” the brattiest girl mocked. “Look, everyone, Darlene is wearing pajamas for Halloween!” and all the little brats erupted with laughter.
Dear Lord, please turn me into a dustball right now!
But there I stood, searching my little brain for an answer, an excuse – something to get me out of this 3 x 6 hell.
I told them my mom forgot to pack it, that “my costume was gonna be great but we were in a hurry and I couldn’t miss my bus.”
After they pointed and laughed until the teacher came in to see what was going on, they let me slide, this group of future head cheerleaders and devil women. I went on to eat candy corn and potato chips and get silly little toys that day. However, the humiliation I felt in that coat room followed me for decades along with the “it’s great to be like everyone else” worm that wriggled into my brain.
I’ve since killed that worm, but there were so many moments like this one that shaped who I am today.
Got any embarrassing moments? Share in the comments below. 🙂