Please allow me to tell you about the time that I lost a costume contest to a kid dressed as a green crayon. I’m clearly still choked up about it. It was Halloween, 1988. I was a very naive 8 year old and my mom entered me into a local costume contest at the Chilliwack Mall. There were around 10 kids of similar age also in the contest, so when we got there and saw that all of the costumes were store-bought and put together with minimal effort, we believed we had this in the bag. I, of course, was in an original Carolyn Paisley made Jem costume…as in Jem and the Holograms, which of course was very cool back in the 80’s. I recall having to model the costume on a makeshift runway and I’m pretty sure I no doubt imagined that this was going to be the beginning of what would become a lucrative modelling career despite the fact that I knew I was an awkward looking child. As I’m strutting my 8 year old stuff down a poorly made runway, I am feeling outrageous…truly, truly, truly outrageous! There were some pretty intent moms around too. Not quite “Toddlers and Tiaras” but one child did show up looking like a child prostitute, but I will get to that soon enough. I assess the competition and I’m up against the likes of Rainbow Brite, a Cat…some other store-bought generic costumes and of course…..the Green Crayon. I wish at this point in my life that I was clever enough to have dished out burns like “aw that’s a shame, I’m about to melt you!” and “you’ll no doubt be green with envy when my homemade Jem costume wipes the floor with you” however, I’m sure the extent of my dialogue would have been nothing, followed by very awkward staring at the other person.
The group is herded to the stage to announce the winners. My mother had me convinced that on account of the sole fact that my costume was the only one that was homemade, and based on the notion that my mother was extremely convincing that this was going to be my competitive advantage, I knew…..I KNEW that I was about to own this moment! Third place, goes to the Cat. Second place goes to Rainbow Brite. Well deserved, she looked fantastic! Then came the moment of truth. My crowning moment. All of my mother’s hard work in making this costume would pay off. “And the winner is……Drumroll please parents…Congratulations to the Green Crayon! Wut?!?! I’m pretty certain I immediately took it like a pro and by taking it like a pro I mean I started crying on the stage. I wanted to run across the stage, swipe the bouquet of flowers out of her hand and rip the sash off her felted green body. Alright, there was no bouquet, or sash – I’m pretty sure it was just a gift card to the Dairy Queen, but I really liked Dairy Queen and winning. Honestly, when you’re 8 years old, that combo is exhilarating! I was thoroughly gutted.
My mom took me to the Dairy Queen anyway which was a feat considering my brother and I had to essentially beg for the opportunity to eat fast food when we were kids. When I hadn’t gotten over it the next day, I think my parents convinced themselves that this would send me down a path in life that would lead to drugs and in their infinite parenting wisdom they had to find a creative parenting solution to help me cope. Their answer was to place newspapers all over the living room floor and have me get my frustrations out by running around and ripping up the newspaper. It bordered on house-training a new puppy and effectively parenting your upset 8 year old child.
Now, you must be wondering where the child prostitute part of this story comes into play. Years later, while in my mid teens, let it be known that I was not doing drugs, nor was I soliciting myself for sex on the mean streets of Chilliwack. The newspaper coping strategy clearly worked. I was going through old photos when I came across a picture of myself dressed as Jem that day. This was when I started to have some realizations. The memories I had originally preserved of this day turned out to be so incredibly far from what actually took place. Now, my mom, albeit insanely creative, did not actually “kill it” in the making of this costume. When I looked at the photo, I actually looked like a homeless child prostitute….not Jem.
Jem had delightfully pink, big 80’s hair. My hair was not pink and it looked like I had an unfortunate encounter with a puddle and a plugged in toaster. I also had bangs that started at the back of my head and looked like the visor on a large motorcycle helmet. Jem wore a cool pink dress and fancy high heels. I was in homemade shorts with a basic blouse made out of the same material as the shorts and a pair of buster brown shoes…with lacy white ankle socks. Jem had very unique futuristic makeup. Bright pink triangles perfectly shaded around her eyes in a way that saw the peak of the triangle blend subtly upward into her temples. My mom painted pink triangles on my eyes like you would draw eyes on a Jack-0-Lantern. And she also gave me an upper lip mole…A MOLE. I was also wearing bright coral lip stick. The creators of Jem would likely have died a little inside after looking at me. Now, I must discuss the biggest fail with this costume. While, my mom chose to layer cheap necklace upon cheap necklace around my neck – clearly identifying the need for jewellery here, she forgot what is perhaps the most important piece – a star shaped earring. This was tantamount to not wearing Ruby Red slippers with a Dorothy costume. I mean seriously, what was the point – HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO COMMUNICATE WITH SYNERGY! My ears were naked and I looked like a child prostitute. No wonder I didn’t win! Infact, I’m surprised this isn’t my “let me tell you about the time that child protective services took me away” story.
Now, despite all of this I still can’t believe that the Green Crayon won – RIGGED! Rainbow Brite, you were robbed.
**If I can locate the Jem photo, I will of course post it! In the interim, I have provided a horrific childhood photo that shows my amazing hairstyle and pedophile glasses. Again, thank you Mom. Must dig through the parent’s crawl space for the Jem photo though…also, this picture was not of the real green crayon kid.