Mustard Man and Halloween

One of my favorite superheroes is Mustard Man. Not familiar with him? By day he was a mild mannered Jacks Dowdy. On Halloween night, and for a couple of months after, he was busy fighting the dastardly Ketchup Man. What exactly was his superpower? Did he squirt mustard on you while making that unfortunate sound you get at the end of a bottle? We’ll never know. I do know that Mustard Man did a lot of aimless running. And while Mustard Man was not going to strike fear into the hearts of criminals or hot dogs with his sweet voice, I will never forget the memories he and his sidekick Albert Einstein made for our family. (Sadly, this five year old effort is our last remaining Mustard Man video and I’m told by the director it was not his best work.)

Sometimes Halloween gets a bad rap. OK, there is a dark element to the day that makes it kind of fun. But, for our kids, it was also a holiday that encouraged their creativity. This is our first Halloween we have not bought a costume. I’m a little melancholy about it. Mind you, I am the same guy who went low budget with costumes for the last seventeen years.  One year there was Cowboy Wayne, which was basically our first kid sporting some western wear and a name tag. Oddly enough, the next year we decided to dress him up as a cow.

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I’m not sure what was going on with his parents but our child played the role to the hilt. We did the picture thing before heading out to knock on doors and I discovered our little bovine had a trick in his diaper. I played dumb and so did my wife. With all the excitement, getting him out of that cow suit for a new diaper would have been a feat worthy of Harry Houdini. The rest of that brief Trick or Treat outing had people dancing in front of him, as they leaned in to talk to the cute little cow, then leaned way back once they realized we had brought a cow and the cow pasture with us.

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Here’s the thing you don’t realize as your children are growing up. Holidays and special events will make up the bulk of pictures that parents find later in life. Sure, with our new phones we take a LOT more pictures now, but I’m talking about the ones that will survive or be readily available and not floating in some cloud of data with the unnamed and unexplored memories of other families, Your photos from Halloween become moments in time with people who were ghosts then, and some people who are ghosts now, albeit friendly ones who take a splash of water with their vodka and had treats for the little bits every time they visited, not one stinking night out of the year.

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Whether it was Albert Einstein, Mustard Man, a stinky cow, a cute witch, or a movie character that is long since passe, Halloween gives you snapshots where perhaps you see a tad more about who they really are based on a costume. So enjoy All Hallows Eve with you and yours. Take plenty of slightly out of focus, dark pictures. The seasons will change, the years will pass, and sometimes it is good to add visuals to the memories we hold dear. Don’t be scared of the tricks, enjoy the treats, and if you see a scary witch on Halloween do not fret for one second. Based on my personal experience, I would offer her chocolate. Happy Halloween!

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