Trick or Beep!

So, Halloween, 2008, has come to a close.

The house is quiet, the kids have long since headed off to dreams of strange people hitting up their mom and dad for candy, and now, I’ve got to find a place to store a bulky costume that’s too good to just pitch along with the other recycling.

Another beer?
Don’t mind if I do!
*pop*, *sip*, “Ahhhhh”.

I am always grateful for good weather on Halloween. There is nothing, NOTHING, worse that having to trick or treat in a driving rain or (shudder) snow. Today, we were blessed. The temperature rose to a level just shy of t-shirt weather, the sun shone bright in a cloudless sky, and a light breeze did little more than annoy some loose leaves, lurking in the unmown grass. The day light hours of Halloween are always a bit frantic in our neck of the woods. Action Girl and I tend to scurry around, attempting to locate bits of decoration that was put, “some place safe”, the previous year and get it all installed before the lights go down and the sugar sucking monsters start to roam the streets.

As the two of us work away at making our house as spooky as possible, next-door is always a hive of activity. Our good neighbors are amazing artists and every year, a small army of other illustrators and artists descend on their house and transform it into… something amazing. It’s always amazing. Today, we could hear them laughing, hammering, constructing and generally being silly. On a few occasions Short Stack would raise a curious head over the tall grass and ask us, “What are they doing over there?” and we’d tell him that it was a surprise that he’d have to wait until tonight to find out. We put the final touches on our own decorations and after a quick photo shoot of the kids in costume while we still had daylight, we headed inside to get ready for Short Stacks first real Halloween night. As the sun finally set, we raced through dinner in an effort to be ready for the first knock at the door. We just made it.

Voices of excited children started to reverberate through the dimly lit streets and it was time to start things rolling. Action Girl shoehorned Lulu Belle into a ridiculously cute giraffe costume that was thoughtfully supplied by her folks and I fitted Short Stack with his own Halloween get up. He had picked the costume himself and there was none of that wavering that some kids show when it comes to difficult Halloween decisions. He wanted to be a monster truck. He was adamant on it and far be it from me to turn down a carefully made choice by a two year old. A monster truck, he would be!

In the end, it took a lot of cardboard, tape, paint, pipe insulation, four foil pie plates, two red L.E.D. jogging safety lights and two more self adhesive tap lights. Oh, and time. A heck of a lot of time. I took care of most of the actual construction, Action Girl and Short Stack did a bunch of the painting and then late the night before the project was due, Action Girl and I finished it in the basement, over some beers. The result… Well, here it is.

No one was happier with the finished product than Short Stack was. After an initial resistance to being wedged into the contraption, he absolutely loved the idea of BEING a monster truck. That, and all the, “Oohs!” and “Wow’s!” from anyone who happened to pass by at the time cemented his joy in the costume. With the headlights and taillights switched on, Short Stack and I set off to make his very first “Trick Or Treat” stop. Naturally, the first stop would be the neighbor’s. Dance music was thumping joyfully from their house as we walked to the darkened yard. What greeted us was a sight that stopped my little monster truck in his tracks. Not out of fear, so much out of pure mesmerization.


(Sorry for the lack of sound. my camera is quite elderly and did not record audio)

I do have to admit that not only did I know what was going to be there, but I actually did my little bit to contribute to the light show/ dance party, as well. I knew that I wouldn’t have a chance to lend a hand in any material way, what with me building a truck in my cellar at the time, but I could supply the music. I filled up my elderly iPod shuffle with a mix of fun techno, 80’s pop and some other strangeness with a good beat and lyrics that would pass the parent test. Well… most of the lyrics did. To be fair, I don’t think anyone really picked up on some of the stuff in “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femms. Oops! The life sized, glowing stick figures grooved the night away to the tunes and dispensed candy to those brave enough to get close. It was what I’d imagine an acid trip to be like. It was great!

After his inaugural piece of candy was stowed in the bed of his truck, we headed off to the next few houses. The best reactions to his costume came from other trick or treaters as kid after kid stopped to point out the “kid dressed as the truck!” One three year old we know even correctly identified Short Stack as a monster truck with no prompting. Short Stack was in heaven. At every stop, more candy was added to his bed until the rear wheels started to drag on the pavement behind him. It was a lot of weight for a little guy, but “determined” is not a strong enough word to describe his mindset. He was on a mission! So far as he was concerned, this was the best thing ever! We looped back to our house to unload his loot and lighten the load before continuing on. Since the house candy was almost gone, we decided to wait there a few minutes for things to wrap up. Eventually, we finally ran out and Action Girl, with our giraffe daughter strapped to her chest, switched off our porch light and joined us. My folks, as well, who also had run out of goodies at their place, showed up to see the show. Four adults and two children headed off to find more loot and entertainment as strict bedtime were tossed happily out the window. It was great fun and though we could see that Short Stack was getting tired, he steadfastly refused to be taken out of his costume in an effort to make better time to the next front door.

Our route took us to the local Lion’s Club for refreshments and a costume contest. Short Stack’s energies were momentarily revived as he mingled with friends and costumes were compared. The announcer called for kids aged one through four to make their way to the stage and Short Stack, sporting a ring of chocolate around his mouth, took second place, just edged out by Saint George, dressed in home-made tin can armor and a stuffed animal dragon. Not bad!

As we stepped out side into the very, very late night, Short Stack decided that finally, yes, he was ready to get out of his truck and, in stead, ride in the stroller that Action Girl had though to bring along. He was chipper all the way home and Lulu Belle managed to keep her good humor until it was time for jammies. Normally, getting my son to bed is not something that goes smoothly, but tonight, resistance was minimal and he was asleep in a scant few minutes.

Lulu Belle’s giraffe costume will be far to small to be used again and so will likely get handed off to some new baby, yet to be. The monster truck, though… I think we’ll hang on to that for a while. It won’t last, naturally. Eventually, it will get wet or crunched or simply fall apart, but until then I think it’s got some more good playing left in it. Besides, it’s Short Stack’s first car, and far be it from me to take that away from a guy.

Now if you will all excuse me, I believe that there is a huge demon on my roof that needs taking in for the season and a cemetery in my front yard that needs breaking down until next year.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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13 Responses

  1. Great post! Short Stack’s costume is nothing short of amazing: well done TP and Action Girl!

    P.S. That footage of the neighbor’s house was very cool — I wish I could have heard the music!

    Thanks Jimsmuse! We had fun making it, too. As for the neighbors, just put on Duran Duran’s “Electric Barbarella” and watch it again and you’ll get the idea.
    -TP

  2. Awwww, your son will have awesome photos to look at of his costume. You know what all that hard work equals? Love. I thought you guys did wonderful on his little truck! I especially loved the little liscense plate, nice touch. hehe.

    The video is cooooool. How fun was THAT!! πŸ™‚

    Thanks, Sweetgirlz! It was stressful to get it done on time but a lot of fun too. Action Girl and I don’t get to collaborate much on fun stuff these days so working on this with her after the kids were in bed was a lot of fun! Heck, it’s just novel to have an uninterrupted conversation with each other at this point.

    -TP

  3. Brilliant costume πŸ˜€

    It was his idea, entirely!
    -TP

  4. I have just realized something VERY important about Halloween. It’s primarily for the parents. The builders of Halloween scenes. The makers of Halloween costumes that win awards… You totally crack me up!!!

    Not so! It’s also the adult’s job to get get the heck out of the way and let the kids run wild when they are old enough. I like to think of it as one of the rare opportunities when I get to unleash my inner kid and not be looked at as a looney. In all honesty, a lot of people look at me as a looney, much of the time. This is my chance to blend in!

    The bit where Short Stack won second prize was hilarious. I just couldn’t really get it to fit in the post. First prize was $5. Second prize was $4. The judge, who is an *ahem* interesting fellow simply walked up to Short Stack and slapped four singles on his hood and walked away. My son looked at it and then me with the most perplexed look on his face. I rolled them up and stuffed them in his shirt pocket. Cracked me right up. Maybe he’ll buy his old man a soda, later.
    -TP

  5. Great job TP, the decision to make tyres out of pipe insulation is ingenious. They look so real.
    Can’t wait to see how my daughter reacts to her carnival outfit this year. It will be lady bug, though a pirate outfit would fit her character even better.

    The tires were a very rewarding moment. I am an unabashed pack rat which can drive my wife a bit nutty at times. As we were casting about the cellar for some way to make the tires look right, I spied some once-used, pipe insulation that I had stripped off some plumbing that we removed a year or so ago. Lord only knows what made me hand on to it, but there it was, just waiting for a second lease on life!

    I hope you post some pictures of your little lady bug! There’s nothing more pleasing that seeing a kid who’s enjoying being silly and dressing up as something fun. On a side note, have you considered a pirate ladybug? Bet there won’t be any of those at carnival!
    -TP

  6. Good job. Now that my kids are grown we just don’t get that kind of thrill out of the season. Enjoy them while you can, soon they will be big smelly teenagers!
    -pf

    You mean, they’ll grow up??!?!? Noooooooo!
    πŸ˜‰

    -TP

  7. prairieflounder is right, TP — kids are like dogs. They’re adorable when they’re puppies…but then the messes you have to clean up get a lot bigger!

    Lucky for me I got to hang out with some kids on Halloween — judging a costume contest for a creative bunch of high schoolers was an honor indeed!

    To be honest, I’m not too spooked about them growing up. They’re peanuts still and though it will go fast, I still have a lot of time to play with them and be “superdad”. One day, I’ll get my first eyeroll and it will all go out the window, I’m sure. On the other hand, I’m doing my level best to help them grow up to be good hearted an thoughtful. Here’s hoping that the work I do today will pay back in the form of wonderful kids and adults in the future. One can only hope!
    -TP

  8. Great job on the costume, TP! Love the license plate and the creative use of jogging safety lights and tap lights. Very safety-conscious of you!

    I think ‘grasswire’ and I could be friends. Ladybug! and Lil’bug’s first costume choice? a pirate! Pirate ladybug, what a great idea!

    I sense the makings of a smackdown between Short Stack and Saint George next year!

    Thanks LBH! I joked that it was the safest costume out there this season. He got a real kick out of lighting the way as we walked. I didn’t even need a flashlight!
    -TP

  9. Great story. I kind of envy your kids for having such childhood experiences. The monster truck costume was inspired!

    What were the glowing stick figures? Were they strip light puppets?

    This is why, though I’m never one to push American culture on any other corner of the world, I think I’d make an exception for Halloween. It’s purely the best holiday there is. I’d happily trade in Christmas for an extra Halloween!

    The glowing dancers were wild! It’s this filament that glows when you run a current through it. All you need to do is make a back outfit and then sew this stuff on to you in what ever shape desired. It’s very cool stuff. The filaments were powered off a small battery pack and you could set them to flash, strobe or just stay on. I want some!
    -TP

  10. “I want some!”

    Ditto for me too!

  11. I MISS MY ISLAND!!!!

    *a-hem*….

    COME!
    HOME!

    -TP

  12. Great costume and light show!
    All I got this year for Halloween was a rock.

  13. How big was the box you used? I love this idea! Your so talented! May I attempt to duplicate this for my toddler this Halloween?

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