Although we were not allowed to wear costumes to school on Halloween, the annual Lynnhurst Community Center Halloween party took place immediately after school. Year after year I competed in the costume contest, each time convinced that THIS! THIS would be the year I would take home the big prize.
(Last year's Tom the Cat might have sucked rocks, but Wonder Woman will be my ticket to victory!)
Again and again, I came home empty handed. Around the fifth grade, another contestant was kind enough to enlighten me to the fact that the vinyl, pre-made costumes that came in a box with a plastic mask were never going to win the costume contest.
Mom worked full time and had four kids. Home-made costumes were not an option.
Of course, the prospect of a pillow case full of candy—candy that was all for ME and that I would not have to share with any of my three younger sisters—generally made me forget my disappointment in short order. In addition to which, Halloween was an extra-special day, because it was one of the few days each year when my father would bring out his old friend Herkimer.
Herkimer, you see, is the human skull my Dad keeps in his closet. To this day, on Halloween, Herkimer enjoys a place of honor in the front window of our house, flanked by candles, for all the trick-or-treaters to see.
Dad acquired Herkimer while he was working as a medical salesman. The name is actually not quite right, since, according to Dad, Herkimer was female when she was alive. The skull still has the logo of the company my Dad worked for stamped on the side of her, er, head. Where she came from before that, I don’t know. I don’t really want to know.
She has all of her teeth, her jaw is hinged with springs so that it can open and close (we thought it was hilarious when Dad would make Herkimer "talk"), and tiny hooks on either side of the skull unlatch so that the top comes right off, revealing the cavity where Herkimer’s brain used to be. Fascinating.
I felt like a real celebrity on the handful of occasions when Dad allowed me to bring Herkimer to school for show-and-tell.
Yeah. I said show-and-tell.
Can you imagine the dinner conversation at my classmates’ houses on those nights? "EverydaySuperGoddess brought a skull to school today. She said her dad keeps it in his closet."
It's a wonder I had any friends at all.