The Coast News Group
Small Talk

Sometimes, you just need to color your hair green

My son graduates college in May. Posterity will probably see that he is wearing a giant, blond mohawk along with his impressive robes. I’m not sure how he will perch his mortarboard atop it, but I feel certain he will try. All photos of his mother will show her scowling and his grandfather may well refuse to be in any photos at all.
How do I know all this three months before the event? Because last Tuesday, (on Dr. Seuss’ birthday,) I could be found prancing around in whiskers and my Cat in the Hat outfit. Because ever since my children were old enough to notice, they have seen me shamelessly, gleefully wearing costumes, weird hair or funny noses of one sort or another. My whole family is shy by nature, but give us an excuse to slap on an alter-ego and we jump on it. I’m sure the only thing that kept us from being the next Barrymore clan in Hollywood is that we can’t memorize lines.
My parents had two footlockers full of costumes that they broke out every Halloween, piecing together this and that to come up with something hilarious every time. They always won the prize. And we have photos of my dad in a ballerina costume for some military hijinks.
I still have those footlockers and over the years, my mom helped me create amazing costumes for my kids from them, for every Halloween, birthday party, school play or theme day. This St. Patrick’s Day, my dad and I will once again both spray our hair green. He started it. The minute my hair was short enough, I jumped on the bandwagon.
Meanwhile, an unexpected venue opened up for me when I took the job as elementary school librarian. My very first year on duty, I was handed a Ms. Frizzle costume to wear at the book fair. Once I donned that curly red wig, there was no going back. Was it the roar of the crowd? The smell of the greasepaint? Well, making kids giggle and grown-ups laugh out loud is heady stuff.
Since that book fair 15 years ago, I have come up with that many costumes and more. To paraphrase an old Irish saying, “She’ll put on a costume at the drop of a hat, and if you don’t drop it, she’ll knock it out of your hand.” I’ve been a bumble bee, a bookworm, an alien, an ice queen, a fry cook, a dog, a diver being eaten by a shark, a pirate and a cowgirl. I’ve created Queen America, Ms. Academy Award and a good witch. There are some I simply don’t remember, and I cannot honestly say I have confined them all to the school grounds. One bar refused to sell Margaritas to a bumble bee. Go figure.
So, while I oh-so-gently suggested that maybe my son might forego the mohawk this spring, he has not made any promises. It has been his tradition for the past three springs, simply because he could. He knows that once he launches into real life, and  medical school, the opportunities for mohawk-wearing will likely dry up. I can’t speak to when he goes into practice, especially if it’s pediatrics.
I’m practicing my refrain. “Yeah, that’s my son. He may look like a tall, blond, neo-Nazi freak, but he’s actually such a nice boy.” Either that or, “I’ve never seen that child before in my life.”