I've been in costume for nearly fifty years. Or longer. I don't remember if my parents did that favor for me of dressing me up in swaddling pumpkin garb the way we did for my niece, and dressed my son up as a larval bee for his first Halloween, but I can't remember an All Hallow's Eve that didn't include dressing up in some way, shape, or form.
That's what we do, right? It is how we legitimize that whole begging for food thing. If you're not in costume, don't come banging on my door, trick or treating. You'll be getting the trick end of that deal. That's not a threat, it's just a reality check. Or a surreality check. When I went to see Clint Eastwood's "A Perfect World," I was immediately struck by the idea that Phillip, the kid in that movie, had never had a Halloween costume. This was due to his family's being Jehovah Witnesses, but it made me immediately sympathetic. It made perfect sense to me that this child would spend the rest of the movie dressed in the Casper the Friendly Ghost costume purloined by escaped convict Kevin Costner just so young Phillip could enjoy life on the wild side for a change.
I used to love that time of year when my mother would take us out to Ben Franklin's to shop for that year's disguise. We bought our share of less-than-fire-retardant comic book heroes and cartoon favorites. We were also blessed with a mother who could turn out her share of clever costumes from her sewing machine. When the night of October 31st showed up, we were ready.
As I grew older, I collected masks of horror and science fiction movie monsters. Eventually, I had a storehouse that allowed me to share with friends who were not as equipped as I was for that night of masquerade. One of my parents' friends asked to borrow my Planet of the Apes gorilla mask, and I begrudgingly let it go. I never saw it again. It was stolen from the seat of their car. Or so they said. I was never quite as free about loaning out my stuff again.
My son has happily taken up where I left off. He has a Stormtrooper helmet from Star Wars, and an Optimus Prime mask. This year he is reprising his "Most Interesting Horse In The World" costume. I think it will be a big, big hit. I don't know if I'll need a costume myself, but I know where to look if I get the urge.