Saturday, October 31, 2015

My go-to costume

As a kid, my go-to Halloween costume was “cowboy.”

Snap-up plaid shirt.  Blue jeans.  Sneakers.  10-gallon hat.  (Okay, maybe 5-gallon hat.)  Cap gun in holster.  Bandana.

And a couple of special effects that put me miles ahead of the other cowboys.

What were those, you ask?

Well, first, there was a genius concoction that Mom had come up with.  Something that she’d read about in a magazine or heard about from another mother.  It was our secret weapon during the Halloween season:

A stubbly cowboy beard.

How this worked … Mom mixed coffee grounds with some sort of sticky substance—which may have been Elmer’s glue, I’m not sure—and then gently sponged the mixture onto my face.

Cowboy stubble—voilĂ !

Then, there was my own killer addition—a big wad of bubble gum in my check which I worked like chewing tobacco, even spitting from time to time to make my character come alive.

I believe I was the most convincing cowboy around those parts.

Except for the sneakers.

I probably could have used a pair of boots.

Cheryl’s go-to costume, Pippi Longstocking

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The golden king

For some reason, when I was a kid, Mom was intent on my memorizing the names of the Old Testament kings … in chronological order.

She had even drawn out a chart, on poster board, with


at the top.

And then 2 lines branching out, with


of the Judah kingdom on one side and


of the Israel kingdom on the other.

Plus a bunch more names were under each branch.

Some of the kings, I’d heard of before, and some of them … well, no one had ever heard of.

PEKAHIAH” … I rest my case.

And then, right next to each name was a chess-piece drawing of a king:

So a guy like DAVID was a gold king (obviously),

AHAB was a green king (duh),

and JEHU was striped.

I think you get the picture.

And for a time, this poster somehow made its way into our bathroom.  I’m guessing the theory being that I would learn names while brushing my teeth or combing my hair (which were both, sadly, rare occurrences).

But eventually, I did memorize the chart.  Because, you see … there was a dollar bill waiting for me at the end of each list of kings.

(Ah, Bribes and the Bible, now there’s a book I could write—mostly from my own employment of this method as a parent.)

And at the end of all that memorizing, and of the receiving of my just rewards, I was surprised at just how much of the information I retained … especially from those images of gold, green, and stripes.

So that later, much later, when I’d hear stories about David (good king), I’d think, “Wait a minute, didn’t he do something inappropriate with Bathsheba?  And didn’t he have a man killed?  Are you kidding me?”

And I’d also ponder Manasseh (bad king) and say, “Hold on, that guy repented in jail.  He should get some credit for that.  Right?”

And then, one day much much later, it occurred to me.  Maybe it would have been more accurate to have all of the kings colored in stripes.

Just like all of us … striped.

Looking forward to the day—with some Help—when we become gold.