When you are 10 years old, one of life's burning questions is: "What are you wearing for Halloween?"
I realized the pressure involved one year when I took our younger son to an elementary school Halloween festival. The moment we arrived, one of his friends ran up and sneered: "Hey, you wore that same Blue Man suit last year!"
I remember thinking, "Get a life, Spider-Man."
My son, on the other hand, shrugged and ran off to the playground. If he was embarrassed, it certainly wasn't going to leave a scar.
The residual of this 10 seconds of awkwardness, though, is that I developed a new appreciation for the inquiry: "What are you wearing for Halloween?"
Last Saturday, after a deli dinner in Hixson, the boy asked me, "Daddy, can we go look for Halloween costumes?" I instantly agreed.
About a month ago, he had decided to be Soccer Man, and had even cut open an old soccer ball to create a low-cost mask for himself. I realize now that this was just a ploy so he could butcher a soccer ball. When you're 10, this is what constitutes fun.
So, still on the hunt for a packaged costume, we drifted to one of those strip-mall pop-up stores that specialize in disposable Halloween attire.
I soon realized that our 10-year-old is a tweener: Too old for kiddie costumes and two young for deliberately scary costumes. He quickly zeroed in on a new class of inflatable attire and narrowed his choices down to a cowboy kid riding on Donald Trump's shoulders or a sumo wrestler.
I was unable to decide if the Trump get-up was politically neutral, so I steered him to the sumo suit.
These newfangled suits are made of plastic and contain battery-operated air-pumps that make a 75-pound 10-year-old look like a muscle-bound freak.
I remember thinking it would be nice to have an inflatable suit like this in the Deep South in August to blow recycled air into all your cracks through the magic of AA batteries.
Nothing is ever easy with our son, who immediately got stuck on the question: "Can you still run while wearing a sumo suit?"
My only point of comparison was wearing corduroy pants as a chubby preteen and nearly starting a fire through thigh friction alone.
Ten-year-olds stink at making hard choices. By allowing my son to entertain the thought the sumo suit might slow him down between houses on Halloween, I reduced him to a sort of mental paralysis by analysis. There are just so many Skittles a kid is willing to sacrifice for the sake of a cool costume.
To change the subject, I enticed him to the adult mask section, which turned out to be hilarious.
First, he put on a mask that made him look like a teamster smoking a Tiparillo.
Another mask made him look like Bluto with a 5 o'clock shadow.
My favorite, though, was a scary sister mask that looked like the answer to the click bait, "You won't believe what the Flying Nun looks like today!"
Never underestimate the therapeutic effect of running around in a scary nun costume while waving a fake chain saw in a Halloween store. After five minutes of this, my son had forgotten his angst and was ready to take the plunge with sumo man.
We hurried home, after a side trip for AA batteries, and pumped up the sumo suit.
The boy is very pleased with his purchase. He's even looking forward to wearing his sumo suit to school one day this week.
Finally, he can relax. "What are you wearing for Halloween?" has been asked an answered for 2017.
Treats to follow.