When I was in elementary school, I sat alphabetically in front of Joy McElhinny in nearly every class from Kindergarten through fifth grade. In my opinion, Joy was the complete package: smart, funny, a gymnast (I was the Amazon in the back row of all the pictures), and the perennial winner of the most original, homemade Halloween costume. Clearly her parents loved her more than mine loved me. I was Tweety Bird for my first eight years of life; Joy’s mom wrote sweet messages on the peel of her banana.
Two of Joy’s costumes are forever etched in my scrapbook of childhood memories. In third grade in Miss O’Reilly’s class, Joy dressed for the Halloween parade as a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, her cherubic face encapsulated by paper-mache, ground beef. In fifth grade, the McElhinnys brought their A-game, and dressed the diminutive Joy as a box of movie theater popcorn. I was, again, Tweety Bird.
The costume was one for the ages, a HUGE red and white striped refrigerator box (judging by Joy’s costumes, the McElhinnys must have bought a new refrigerator every October) topped with REAL popcorn. She was the talk of McClellan Elementary School, and rightfully so. For the rest of the fifth grade class, festooned in old bedsheets and fake blood, Joy made the Halloween parade feel more like a walk of shame…until the unthinkable happened.
You see, there was a design flaw in the popcorn box. NO ARMHOLES! As we were coming around the bus circle on the final stretch of the parade, Joy tripped over the speed bump and face planted on the asphalt. NO ARMHOLES! Wonder what her banana peel read the next day at lunch? “Dear, Joy, Sorry about the costume. Glad the dentist was able to extract all of your teeth from the inside of your lips. Love, Mom.”
The fifth grade class was traumatized, not only for witnessing Joy’s painful fall–and her fall from Halloween grace, but in knowing that Joy’s trick-or-treating prospects were looking pretty dim. No candy for Joy.
You can imagine our…joy, when little Joy rose from the ashes like
a phoenix The Great Pumpkin. That Halloween, Joy ate her candy with her back teeth. She was one tough broad.
Moral of the story: This Halloween, don’t let Frankenstorm rain on your Halloween parade. Buck up, little ones, just like Popcorn Joy did. Grab a pillow case and an umbrella and run like hell. Get your sticky little hands on a Category 5 candy haul.
Just make sure you have armholes.