“Could you and Mike do a skit for us for Halloween?” my friend and co-worker asked. “We have a trail that circles our property and we’re going to take kids for a hayride around it. We want to have live skits spaced around at the side of the trail.”
Well, that sounded like fun to us, so Mike and I put our heads together over something like epic fantasy, with a wizard and an elf, and, of course, a barbarian. Our son Henry fit the bill, there. You can guess who’s the elf and who’s the wizard.
Mike found a monk’s robe in a shop in Charleston, as well as a few tricks. He had let his beard grow, but wanted a staff that looked real. From a pear tree out back he sawed off a well-rounded limb, though not too fat, and hollowed it out. At about the point where he held it naturally in his hand, he made a hole and inserted a good butane lighter. After trying it out a few times, he got it just right. When he slammed the heel of the staff onto the ground or the floor, fire whooshed out the top.
For Henry we wanted a wide belt around his middle to hold a fur tunic in place. While looking one day I happened to pass by some steering wheel covers. They folded out into a nice wide piece of leather. Mike carved him a sword and we found a Viking helmet that just barely fit. And Henry was ready for action.
As for me, the only model I could think of was Tinker Bell, so I went with leotards, a piece of satin material that I cut and tied around my waist, and the perfect wig to set it off. I even had an old dagger that I had bought from a flea market somewhere and stuck it in the waistline where I had knotted the fabric. We were now a really thrown-together set of fantasy characters who wouldn’t pass muster in a real skit, but, we thought, it’s the best we can do on short notice.
We would never have anticipated the hit we made. As the kids came down the trail sitting among the hay, Henry attacked us. Mike and I went into defense mode, me wielding my dagger and looking fierce. Then all of a sudden Mike slammed his staff on the ground, fire whooshed out the top, and Mike waved his hands over it. Balls of fire leaped from his fingers right toward Henry, who retreated, then turned toward the kids with a ferocious battle cry. Some were stunned, all were wide-eyed, all were screaming, all begged to be brought back around as the wagon moved on. We did the skit several more times that night.
Of course, there were some awesome looking scenarios on that trail. A coffin (very real looking and excellently painted. As the kids drew even, Dracula raised the lid. There were several more that were really good (no amateur hour here). My friend’s hayride down a haunted road was a great success.
When we all gathered for food and pictures, Mike was swarmed with kids. He had to work the staff, fire, and fire balls several times. Some of the kids clung to his monk’s robe looking up at him in wonder. He barely got to eat. He was the equivalent of a real Harry Potter a good ten years before Harry Potter was born.
The next year was even better for Mike. He still used the monk’s robe, but instead of keeping the cowl raised, went with silver. His pate was already bald, but his head is perfectly shaped. He looks as handsome bald as he does with hair. His mustache was already more gray than not. His eyes are green. He chromed his head, his mustache, his beard. His whole face and head glowed silver in the dark and among all that chrome, his green eyes shone like lasers. He was even more of hit that year. Unfortunately, my camera was on the blitz, and try as I might, I got no pictures that year. That was a bitter disappointment.
But we still have the pictures from the previous year, and we take a trip down memory lane nearly every Halloween. The pictures and memories are reminders of our pseudo Oscar-winning performance.