Friday, October 26, 2018

Halloween is Nigh

My head is pretty much down lately.  I was given a day off in the middle of this madness we call Halloween ... a madness that I have been blessedly free of until these last three weeks ... and less than one week left, when it is all over.  Such is the experience of working in a costume shop.

Much of this month has been spent packing.  I've been fitting odd-shaped swords, bows with arrows, AK-47s, wizard's staves, 24-inch Captain America shields and other assorted items into Frankenboxes (where we make packages from the dead remains of other boxes), in order to ship them as far away as Sweden and Australia early in the month, and then progressively nearer as the time factor between shipping and Friday tonight, with the onset of ten thousand Halloween parties throughout the world.  I have the day off today because its more-or-less too close to party time to do much shipping.

And as October has progressed, so have the number of phone calls.  The calls we got at the end of September were different.  We were almost fully stocked, with costumes and accessories still arriving right through until yesterday (and probably today, but I'm not there).  The customers were cheerful, pleasant and sure of their costume ideas.  Not so much now.  The stock has trod its way out the door and more and more we have to tell the customers, "No, that's sold out."  Most take it well ... but there is an unquestionable air of desperation.  Impatient desperation.

When I go back tomorrow, it will be mostly parents calling.  Parents who didn't think to bring their kids in sooner.  Parents who were busy.  Parents who have been putting it off because Halloween is a chore.  We've already seen some pretty awful parents.  It is all part of the experience.

I'm slightly disturbed by parents who are anxious to find excessively violent costume ideas for their 5-year-old children.  I suppose I can understand Jason; the hockey mask is iconic and after decades of beyond-the-movie references the killer isn't any worse than Dracula or Frankenstein.  But Saw?  Okay, maybe Jigsaw, but some obscure character from the film?  I had a call like that just a few days ago.  Or what last year's Terrifier movie?  For a 5-year-old?  Just when did this near-infant child see this film character ... when they were four?

Some could argue with me, but I think that the kid has no idea, and the parent just wants to see the kid dressed as some obscure about-to-be dead character from Saw or as a freakishly murderous clown.  It's not a far cry from the parent who wants to dress their three-month old as a pink fluffy sheep or their two-year-old as Bonnie from 5 Nights at Freddies.  I'm saying that the line between, "I want to dress my children as my personal dolls" and "I want to let my children pick out a costume for themselves" is a pretty fuzzy line.

The other ask is the constant request for inflatable costumes for children.  Inflatable costumes are pretty cool.  For example, we sell this one for about $150.  That's a full grown man in the costume, because it's about 7 feet tall and 10+ feet long.  There are motors that inflate the costume and they weigh hardly anything, making them awfully popular.  And of course children want to wear them.

I hate to say it, but we basically sell this costume in
our store; only it is even more invisible.
However, the costume is basically a plastic bag.  Which reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live sketch with Dan Aykroyd playing Irwin Mainway, a manufacturer who sells Halloween costumes for kids that are really dangerous and inappropriate.  I did my best to find a clip but I think it may be banned from the Internet.  Yes, it is really that irresponsible - Aykroyd at his absolute best.

Putting children inside plastic bags is not a good idea; the motor conks out and the costume begins to deflate and the child either doesn't notice or begins to panic.  Instead of doing the logical thing and opening the costume, they freak out, roll around on the ground and suffocate themselves.  Most parents wouldn't think of that ~ and most who did would think, "Not my child."

I get about ten calls a day from parents looking for inflatable dinosaur costumes for children.  Fun, fun, fun.

It's a real kick when I can say "Yes," to someone who has been looking all over the country for a particular costume.  It's fun, too, when I can boost someone's confidence by assuring that the costume will fit and it will look good.  We sell some very, very nice costumes.  No one took me up on my offer of giving advice about costumes this year, which is a shame.  I really have the inside scoop here.

Well, after a few days, we can put Halloween to bed and then it is Santa suits, Santa suits, Santa suits all the live-long day.  I've already had quite a number of those conversations ... and let me just say: if you're one of those people who buys your own $300 Santa suit so that you can dress in it every year and make kids happy, someone ought to erect a statue to you.

You're a damn hero.

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