Wednesday, November 4, 2009


This year for Halloween, I'm dressing as Shmooey the Wonder Boy.
Who is this Shmooey the Wonder Boy? Where might I purchase his costume? Is it in anyway an ethnic slur? These are questions I'm sure you're asking, and I'd be delighted to answer.
Shmooey the Wonder Boy is the everyman's Superhero, invented by my childhood neighbors, the Tucker boys (name changed). The Tuckers were a motley troop. Each one was skinnier than an Ethiopian pigeon, and paler than a vampire with the flu. There were at least seven boys, though experts believe there might be as many as five more lurking in the basement.
The Tuckers loved Halloween, because they each required a daily 13,000 calories (purely derived from sugar) to function. They trick-or-treated like Green Berets. No prisoners were taken. Any house that did not strictly adhere to the Halloweenic Code of Ogden (composed by Mike Tucker on the back of his math homework in 1991) was in for trouble. Eggs and toilet paper were merely the fringe of their arsenal. It is rumored that one year, a gang of Tuckers convened on Miss Edna Cragun's lawn at three in the morning and, using Bic lighters and hairspray, burned into her lawn the words "JUST TRY AND GIVE US WALNUTS NEXT YEAR."
Despite their ghoulish zeal, the Tuckers were faced with two recurring problems every Halloween: 1) they were too poor to afford real costumes, and 2) Halloween was the one night of the year their mother could sit quietly by herself in a dark room and re-think her life. This meant that neither K-Mart nor Mrs. Tucker would be providing their attire for the evening. So, each little Tucker was on his own to scrounge and rummage through storage bins, garage cabinets, church dumpsters, the neighbor's yard, and their father's closet to put together a suitable trick-or-treating costume. The result was always Shmooey the Wonder Boy. It was a hodgepodgey stew of a Super Hero. It was Superman-meets-Western Family.
Every Halloween, seven (or possibly twelve) little Shmooeys would flit about the streets of Ogden, their sticky pillow sacks swinging with caloric glee. I remember Wade Tucker bouncing in sugary merriment down Mountain Road, sporting size 12 cowboy boots, a cape made from a doormat (it said, "WIPE YOUR PAWS HERE"), a mask fashioned from bike helmet-padding, and lavender corduroys. His older, more impish brother Tyler modeled what fashion moguls would call the "Army Fatigues and Underwear Over Your Pants" look, topped by a sombrero and gigantic football pads.
I tried once to mimic their attempts, but it came off like a Hollywood remake: more flair, less creativity. I would scour the house for moon boots, eye patches, old sports jackets, and ugly ties, compiling what I thought must be quintessentially haphazard, but alas, it always felt forced and insufficiently shoddy. In the moving words of Richard Tucker, "It looks like you went to a thrift store and bought stupid things."
I was so unsystematic that I had become systematic. My Shmooey was a pristine, store-bought birthday cake, devoid of flavor and draped in multi-hue icing, and the Tucker Shmooey was a gooey, misshapen, delectable dish of brownies. I shrugged my strained and slapdash garb in exchange for a hobo costume.
But not this year. No! This year, I will make the Tuckers proud. My Shmooey will reign supreme! I will not force spontaneity, but embrace it. I will not sell out. I will wear my unfashionable Shmooey costume with pride. I want to be the best Shmooey I can possibly be!
I also might be Indiana Jones.

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