Sunday, October 24, 2010

You Are What You Wear

My three-year-old grandson Luke is Peter Pan. He’s got the costume to prove it—the costume he’s been wearing for the past four weeks. I rarely see him without his green feathered cap, his green Peter Pan collared shirt, and the green pants (let’s not call them tights.) All this accessorized with a Styrofoam knife and a cloth bow and arrow. His mother says that whenever he’s dressed in character, he calls insists on calling her Captain Hook and his sister Tinkerbelle. His father gets to be the crocodile.

When he watches the Disney film, “Peter Pan,” he points out Peter and says, “That’s me!” There’s no point in arguing with him. If he says he’s Peter, then he’s Peter. I’m actually starting to believe him. Any minute I expect him to sprinkle on some pixie dust and fly off to Never-Never Land (not the Michael Jackson one. The real one.)

Last year, when my other grandson Bradley was four, he became a Ghostbuster. Seriously. His mother said it was all about the cool accessories—the proton pack, the stream gun, the special sensor device. After the ten minutes it took to put everything on, he busted ghosts all over the place—ghosts I didn’t’ realize we had—all while singing the same five words from the “Ghostbuster” theme song (“Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!”)

I like to remind my daughter Rebecca—Luke’s mother—that becoming the character within the costume is normal and that she went through the same “I am what I wear” phase when she was her son’s age. The movie “Annie” had just come out and we made the mistake of taking her to see it. From that day forward, she was Annie, and wore the red dress with the white cuffs and the red curly wig (which we found at a Halloween store where, luckily, red curly wigs are abundant this time of year). For a while there, I was afraid I was going to have to get her a big scruffy dog. (Luckily a stuffed one did the trick.)

She wore that outfit EVERYWHERE. To the mall. To the market. To the second, third, and fourth viewings of the movie. I think she may have worn it to a Giants game. She even wanted to change her name to “Annie.” And all day long she sang, “The Sun’ll Come Out…Tomorrow…,” until I almost wished Miss Hannigan from the orphanage would come and get her.

Kids in costumes got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we adults could wear costumes every day, all day long, instead of just one night a year? I’d love to dress up as the person I’d most like to be, say, Nancy Drew, J.K Rowling, or George Clooney’s girlfriend. And when I got tired of that costume, I could simply put on a black dress, a pointy hat, and spend a few days during the month channeling one of my many alter egos. When I grew tired of being a witch, I could dress as a beautiful princess, a brilliant novelist, a crazy rock star, a naughty nurse (wait, I still have that costume somewhere.)

Ah, but you could say I wear costumes all the time, in my attempt to look like a normal person. Now that’s scary.

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