One of my earliest memory is sitting in the hallway leading to the bathroom, saying, “Mooooooommmm, come on”. At least that’s how I remember it. My mom’s particular about her hair and in 1971, she had a lot of it and it took a lot of fixin’. She didn’t have long hair back then. It was short, black and big. Yes, she’s a white woman and we were in Cullman County Alabama, freshly divorced from my dad, with a red pontiac and big sunglasses, bigger than 80’s sunglasses. I think they had to tone them down for the 80’s. People started to take stuff a little more seriously 10 years down the road. But there I sprawled, across the hardwood floor in white tights and white patent leather shoes and a red and white polka dotted bow, tied to the top of my big red hair. But my mom and that can of Aquanet were one wih the mirror. And I remember, it involved a bunch of teasing and maybe a pick, but I’m not exactly sure about the pick part. The rest of my life, say, after age 10, it was more of hot rollers and a big brush kind of hairdo. Anyway, I waited. And waited and waited and waited and waited… And finally, it was deemed acceptable enough to sit on top of her head at the Cullman County Courthouse, until, sometime midday, she’s push open the enormous wooden door, marked, “ladies”, set the enormous black purse on the counter by the sink and pulling her pocket mirror out, check it from all points, refreshing where neccessary with adequate amounts of Aquanet, in the red bottle.
In 1974, Halloween was cold and blatant. I remember standing in front of my mom’s mirror, while she and her friend blacked my teeth, teased my big red hair,even bigger than normal, and made my skin Coty Powder white. I put on my black dress and black cape trimmed in drapery fringe and a big pointy black hat, all made by my Granny, from scratch.
My sister, a sullen three year old, was intermittently dressed in a store bought Cinderella costume, the kind that came in the see-through box, with the bright yellow hair and crown, all part of the plastic mask. It’s elastic slipped right over her real blonde “waterspout” hairdo and it was an easy escape from Cinderella back into her normal three year old self. No amount of persuasion convinced her to keep that mask on. Not when her plastic orange pumpkin was filling up with all kinds of chocolates and stuff she normally wouldn’t get to have all at one time, much less eat. And on we sailed, in Mom’s red Pontiac, my sister alternately pitching a fit and digging into her candy. The “fit” would usually follow a period of calm, where my Mom convinced her to wear the mask. But as soon as Missie realized that the reese’s cup wouldn’t fit through the Cinderella mouth, it came off, FAST. Mom would pull over and wait, while we joined Bozo, Goldilocks, ghosts and princesses under each porchlight, to yell “trick or treat”, then a quick “thank you”, before racing to the house next door. By the time we made it through the neighborhood, we were loaded down with caramel creams, peanut butter candy in orange and black wrappers, pixy stix, giant smarties and snickers. Missie was back down to her diaper, elbow deep into the pumkin. I think she was even barefoot. While somewhere down the street, a hollow-eyed Cinderella cartwheeled across the asphalt.