Calling Dick Tracy

October 1, 2012

Tell me if this is not the best idea for a Halloween costume ever.

I would dress up as a cat.  My husband would wear a white t-shirt that says meow.  We would be the cat’s meow.  Awesome, right?

Well, could you please tell my husband that?

But aside from trying to convince my husband that the cat’s meow costume is the best thing I have ever thought of since I thought to shop online for him at, this time of year always reminds me of a year when I actually had my mom’s attention for more than one day.

You see, I’m the bronze child.  My older brother is the golden child.  And between working two jobs, paying attention to the golden child and trying to make sure I lived, my mom was very busy.  So I didn’t get much attention.  But it was really ok.  I’m often asked why I didn’t socialize a lot as a kid, and my answer is quite simple.  The friends in my head were way more fun.

So this brings me to the best Halloween costume my mom ever made for me.

I grew up in Western New York, so your Halloween costume had to be something that you could survive a blizzard in whilst trick-or-treating.  One year I went as a cheerleader, and I only made the mistake of wearing a skirt on October 31st in lake effect snow once.  But the year I was in first grade, Halloween was going to be awesome.  It was going to be beyond awesome.  It was going to be radical, spectacular, marvelous, cool!  I was going to be cool!

Wearing a spray painted cowboy hat, a trench coat made out of jersey and a clip on tie.

Yes, I went as Dick Tracy.

This was the year that the movie version came out starring Warren Beatty.  I had the posters, I had the bedspread, I had the sheets, I had the t-shirts, I had the watch that lit up and I pretended that it said, “Calling Dick Tracy!”

Oh, did I mention I’m a girl?

And you wonder why I didn’t socialize.

No tea parties and princess costumes for me.  I was fighting crime!  And when I punched the air I made my own sound effects.  Kapow!  And I imagined it in great white jagged print that exploded from my balled little fist.  I was so…not cool.

But right then, I really was.  I believed it.  And that was the best Halloween ever.

I’ve yet to wear a costume that I deem better than that one.  Even now as an adult thinking of the cat’s meow, I know it won’t top that.

And it’s not because of how precise and authentic my costume was.  It was because of how I felt in my heart.

When I put on the old cowboy hat my mom had lovingly spray painted yellow, I knew I was going to grow up to be Dick Tracy.  I just knew it.  I didn’t think I’m going to be a cop.  I knew I was going to be Dick Tracy.  Hollywood promised me.

But as we get older, that certainty goes away.  It doesn’t age with us.  It remains pristine and whole and new, and it waits for the next child to pick it up.

And so this Halloween, I will stand on my stoop and put handfuls of candy in open sacks, and I will watch.  I will not be watching for smiling faces, scary scowls or bursts of laughter.  I will be watching for that somber face.  That serious mien that says, yes.  Yes, I am here.

And I am going to be Dick Tracy someday.

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