Monday, October 29, 2012

The Gift of Growing Up Poor

I come from a family of six children, spread out so that no more than four of us were of trick-or-treating age at a time.  I remember wishing for those hideous plastic masks and thin plastic coveralls from a box for my Halloween costume, and I remember being told they were too expensive.  In retrospect, they were shitty costumes and a total waste of money.  But at the time, they were all the rage.  Having one of those shitty costumes would mean I was normal, or just not poor.

I had one really great Halloween costume when I was under ten, one that was custom-made and looked fantastic.  Since I was a redhead and had Buster Brown shoes, my mother was more than happy to make me a Strawberry Shortcake costume for Halloween.  She hunted for the perfect fabrics and found reasonable substitutes when the world didn't have replica fabrics available.  She stitched the green diamond patches on the apron and made a strawberry-shaped pompom for the hat.  It was amazing.  I would've worn it every day if I could.

The rest of my childhood costumes were not as incredible, but they also weren't as well-funded.  I'd tell my mother what I wanted to be for Halloween, and we'd have to brainstorm how to make that happen.  I made scribbly sketches and went through my closet to see what I had that could be of use.  We'd have to scour the house to see what we had so we could bring it to life.  Some costumes were, well, shitty.  Others were not too shabby.  I had to learn to work with what I had, to plan wisely, and to use my imagination because there was no money hose to problem solve for me.

My childhood prepared me for burlesque.

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