By Heston Fitzpatrick
It was a timely, important costume.
Casper the Friendly Ghost had just come out on VHS, and it was only a matter of hours before I, the Casper of Smithfield, would be turning heads on Dean Avenue.
I could see it so clearly in my mind: all the residents of Smithfield lining the streets to witness something they could never accomplish in their prime: the perfect costume. “How come I didn’t think of that?” they’d say. “What the hell is wrong with me? I’m forty years old and I never fathomed the idea of a ‘friendly ghost.’”
It was shaping up to be magic. Me — the ghost of the night — dancing in their envious eyes as they fill my pillowcase with candy, turning to other children only to say “sorry, I’m all out of candy. His costume is too brilliant I had to give all of my candy to him.” And the children would cry, except for one, who I would hire to carry my pillowcase, paying him 15% of net earnings for his work.
Hitting the streets in a custom-made, never-before-seen costume can change your life, and when you feel you’ve got a hit on your hands, you transcend yourself. I became Casper, the legend, floating higher in the streets with every breath of autumn air; I felt like Denzel the first time he was invited to the Oscars, or Stevie Nicks moments after she recorded “Dreams.”
“Hey! Look at the tooth!”
Huh. That’s weird. Someone’s dressed as a tooth. Who the hell would do such a thing?
“Oh look, a tooth!”
Hmmm. It seems I’m near this tooth person. Kind of embarrassing.
“Hey, look girls. That little boy is dressed as a tooth.”
The old man points directly at me. It’s me. I’m the tooth.
They’re calling me, “the tooth.”
“I’m not a tooth!” I yell at him.
They laughed in my face, as a family.
For the next hour I was mocked by 40-year-olds and their kids. Every corner I turned there was another family laughing — adults and children dressed as clowns and dogs with rabies coming together in what was likely the first true bond they’d had in years — at my expense. What even is candy? What is life? I’d been mislabeled. Misunderstood. Just a wandering tooth. Alone.
To make matters worse, my mom — the costume designer — had missed her mark, and the costume began to fall apart. She’d made the costume by gluing fake eyeballs onto an old chair cushion, and strapping that to the top of my head. The weight of the cushion and all the butts who sat in it caused it to fall over and flop in front of my face repeatedly, like a white beaver tail swallowing the top of my head.
Mortified, I ran into the woods, and gathered some sticks to keep it upright, running them from my shoulder blades into the cushion on top of my head. But it was already over. About 20 minutes later, I abandoned the chair cushion. Threw it — along with my dreams of a perfect costume — off a bridge. And for the rest of the night, I was just a kid wearing white. Bread without butter.
The worst night of my life.
Looking back, I wish I knew then what I know now: ‘The Tooth’ is the best costume concept I’d ever been apart of. Better than wrapping myself in window blinds and calling myself “the blind man,” better than a party fowl, better than Casper, even. I had the costume of the night, and I threw it off a bridge. It was simple, it was fun, and it was special. Long live The Tooth.
So this year, if someone mistakes you for a tooth, just roll with it.