In elementary school, life is measured simply: in holidays.
Each month, the bulletin boards change and the special day to look forward to is marked on the calendars. As a general rule, you get one holiday per month--even in December Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's get combined. (Ignore, if you will, pesky February, who was so upset about being short that he snatched up Valentine's Day, Groundhog Day, and President's Day).
As soon as we flip our calendars from September to October, every person under the age of 13 (or, in some cases, 113) plans excitedly for Halloween. There is only one thing to dream about when the teacher starts talking about long division: what are you going to wear on the 31st?
Elementary Halloween parties are full of witches, fairies, generic princesses, and characters from whatever happens to be the most popular children's movie that fall. While you get points for having a bigger ball gown than Susie, you also get docked points for not being creative.
I decided to solve this problem by adding an aspect to my costumes that I felt would give me a leg up: acting. Anyone can dress up as a lion, but how many people can growl and roar ferociously, instilling terror into other children?
Or at least I thought I did.
Now there were a few flaws with this plan. The first being that my costume was spectacular to begin with. Not to brag, but my mother makes a mean lion costume, and it will probably tear your $35 store-bought lion costume to shreds--that's what I thought.
The second flaw being that lions don't wear sneakers and walk around. They crawl on the ground and roar. In frigid October weather on streets that were covered in who knows what grime and grit, my mother disagreed. To my great dismay, she made me walk on two legs--can you believe it?--and ask for my candy like a normal person.
On the whole, that Halloween was good. I at least had mentally prepared myself to get in character. So, convinced that next year would be a Tony award-winning performance (Tony awards being translated, in this case, to King size candy bars rather than bite size), I settled in with my pillowcase of candy, content to munch on it with my purely human, omnivorous, sugar-rotted teeth.
Next fall, even I fell prey to the popular children's movie phenomenon. Disney came out with a doozy that year: The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Completely historically inaccurate and marvelously entertaining, I settled on my Halloween costume as soon as I saw the movie (in June).