Sometime in the past few years, when I wasn’t paying attention, Halloween became a really big deal.
I don’t know what happened. Halloween became a two-month-long shopping event, with temporary stores popping up all over town, starting on Labor Day weekend. Suddenly, the average American was spending $70 a year on Halloween – mainly for adult costumes.
Clearly, at our house, we were not doing our part. In a good year, we bought a $3 bag of mini-M&Ms to pass out to trick-or-treaters. In a bad year, we turned off the lights, closed the curtains and hid in the back of the house.
This year, I decided to get back in the Halloween game. Why? Because when I was driving down Shaw Avenue one day, I saw five Halloween stores within seven miles. I figured that if Halloween is this big, maybe I should participate.
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I certainly don’t have the talent or energy anymore to make a good costume of my own – like the ghost costume that my mom made for me out of an old sheet when I was a kid, or the bathroom-wall costume (made of cardboard) that I constructed for myself when I was in college. (People wrote graffiti on me.)
Still, I wanted to do something topical this year – a costume of somebody who’s been in the news a lot. The obvious choices were Donald Trump, Pope Francis, Tom Brady and Caitlyn Jenner, but I couldn’t decide which one to be.
So I decided to combine all four: pope clothing, Trump mask, Caitlyn wig and Brady football, plus a few appropriate accessories. How difficult could that be?
I started at the Spirit Halloween store at West and Shaw avenues. I found all kinds of good stuff, including a cut-off finger, a hairy-chest piece, vampire fangs, a reggae dread wig, an Amish Man, a Pimp Suit and a Killer Clown. But nothing that matched my shopping list.
Just as I was about to leave, I saw it: a Caitlyn set for $49.99, including corset, shorts and wig. I figured the corset and shorts would not go well with a pope costume, so I just bought the wig, for $16.99.
I drove east to the Spooky Halloween Super Store at Shaw and Blackstone avenues, where I found a Leatherface chain saw from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” a Jason Vorhees “Friday the 13th” hockey mask, a Freddy Krueger Deluxe Glove, a bloody cleaver, vampire blood and rotting teeth. Not quite what I wanted – I was going for something more tasteful.
At the First and Shaw avenues Spirit Halloween Store, I saw a bag of plastic cockroaches, a cow mask, some “bullet entry and exit” makeup, geek teeth, nerd glasses and a 1980s mullet wig.
Next to the nun, priest and monk costumes, I found a four-piece pope costume – only $29.99, with robe, capelet, waist sash and mitre headgear. Perfect!
At the Spirit Halloween Store at Willow and Shaw avenues, I found a zombie hunter, a gangsta vest, a Big Booty costume (with padded cheeks), a pet dragon from “Game of Thrones,” and a Limb-Eating Zombie Boy ($159.99) for the front yard.
I bought only a couple of accessories: a decathlon track star medal for Caitlyn ($4.99) and a silver cross necklace for the pope ($2.99).
None of the Halloween stores had authentic-looking footballs, so I stopped at Walmart, Shaw and Villa avenues, and bought an “NFL Pro Replica Football” (ready to deflate) for $29.97.
My last stop was the Halloween Express at Sunnyside and Shaw avenues, where I found a Haight Ashbury hippie, a blind referee, a gynecologist and a Michael Jackson military jacket.
Unfortunately, the Donald Trump latex masks were sold out, so I went home and ordered one online for $35. And, to really tie the costume together, I bought a New England Patriots replica championship ring on eBay for $34.99.
That’s $154.92 for the entire costume. If I average out all my Halloween expenses for the last 30 years, that’s not bad at all. Now I just have to find somewhere to wear it.
Pat Dodds is a resident of Fresno. Comment by going to fresnobee.com/opinion and clicking on Valley Voices.