Sunday, October 23, 2005

Just click your heels three times...

Between the ages of five and eight, I was Dorothy for Halloween (and quite a few days in between Halloweens*) every year. My grandmother had made my costume, so it was perfect to a T: blue gingham jumper over a white button-down shirt, white ankle socks, plaited hair (blonde, but that was no matter to me); I even had a stuffed Scottie dog that I carried around in a basket.

The only thing we could never get right was the ruby slippers. I've always had abnormally tiny feet, and I don't think I started wearing "grown up" sizes until I was in sixth or seventh grade. This anatomical deficeit posed quite the costuming difficulty: apparently back in the '80s, the powers that be didn't find it fitting to make red shoes in little girl sizes. (Now, of course, there are red shoes — red glittery shoes — in little girl sizes, and you see them all over the place. My little cousin got them for Christmas when she was two and I was 14. Oh boy, was I jealous.)

We — my mom and I — tried all the ruby slipper options we could think of. They made red jellies in my size, but jellies just aren't practical for hoofing it around the neighborhood at the end of October (besides, the real Dorothy's shoes didn't have holes in them. Unacceptable!) We found a couple of pairs of red leather pumps, but they were too big for me (they fit Bizzy, my other cousin, who's the same age as me, perfectly, and she was Dorothy all those years, too. Again: jealous.)

I had quite specific criteria for the ruby slippers, which were, after all, the ultimate accessory for the Dorothy costume. They had to have a heel (because when else was I going to be allowed to wear heels at age 5?) and I would settle for them not having a bow so long as they were sparkly like the real things.

After a few years of costume frustration, my mom, at her wit's end, I'm sure, came up with The Corduroy Solution. The Corduroy Solution involved a pair of navy blue platform Mary-Jane style corduroy shoes in my size, caked with a thick coat of Elmer's school glue, and shaken vigorously in a brown paper bag filled with red glitter. Here's what we didn't plan for: Elmer's school glue + glitter = sparkly clumps; and then: corduroy + sparkly clumps = stripes of glittery blobs with rivets of sticky inky blue in between. Not. Cool.

I wore them anyway, of course, and thought they were awesome because they were the closest thing I'd ever seen to legit ruby slippers that actually fit me.

When we went to see the real deal ruby slippers in the Smithsonian a few years after my Dorothy phase, we realized what should have gone down: sequins fastened to corduroy shoes with E6000, the greatest adhesive substance maybe ever. But by that time, it was too late: my feet had just tipped over the cusp into grown-up sizes, I had outgrown my Dorothy pinafore, and wanted to be "something scary" for Halloween.

This year, Robyn showed me this Dorothy costume. Now that's scary.

* Also, before the days of all the new-fangled DVD/laptop/iPod technology, I had the entire Wizard of Oz movie home-recorded onto two cassette tapes. I was obsessed. I used to listen to them before bed, in the car on the way to school, and apparently at lunch. The worst day of my six-year-old life was when I dropped tape 2 into my vegetable soup, never to hear it again.

** And on a completely unrelated other than the strangely evocative ties to my childhood note: It's corn and corn alone day!