Growing up as a plucky whelp in Canada during the 90s, I was lucky to have experienced what I believe to be the perfect interpretation of Halloween.
The autumn leaves drifting lazily by; the tacky, elaborate decorations adorning the various front yards I was to invade… it was magical and pure, and probably goes a long way as to influencing the fact that I still care about the holiday to this day.
The only memories that are not created equal, however, are of what I brought to the table. Though the exact number of times I would go trick-or-treating in full regalia has been lost to the folds of time, I can vividly recollect five instances that I would like to rank for your edification.
It’s like choosing your favourite child, except all of the children are me. That’s a bit of an existential practice, make sure you aren’t too harsh on the various iterations of my being.
5. Hockey mask
Alas, my last traditional Halloween would turn out to be the most forgettable one, as I was sans costume, for the most part.
Near as my anamnesis will allow, I was somewhat under the weather this particular year, disallowing an opportunity to really deck out with an impressive outfit. To stave off the chilly October evening, I merely rugged up in a warm jumper with a cheap plastic hockey mask covering my face.
This was, of course, an old-fashioned hockey mask of the Jason Voorhees variety (I wasn’t cosplaying as Kirk McLean) with the only notable feature being that it glowed in the dark.
Due to the rudimentary nature of this wardrobe choice, it could only ever claim bottom honours. This was also the year where one of the items I received on my rounds was a piece of paper declaring that they considered Halloween to be sacrilegious, and invited people to return a few months later to celebrate the lord’s holiday, Christmas Day.
I wonder if I could still take them up on this offer? I swear I won’t wear the hockey mask this year.
Over my years of blogging, I have hammered this point into the ground, but I’ll repeat it one last time for clarity: dinosaurs were fucking huge in the 90s.
The only reason I became a Toronto Raptors fan in the first place was because Jurassic Park introduced me to velociraptors, and as a west coast kid, I sure dodged the bullet that was the godforsaken Vancouver Grizzlies.
Strangely enough, I never really took full advantage of my obsession with the prehistoric, only ever prancing about as a dinosaur for one lone Halloween season. This getup was your standard green one-piece fare, adorned with cardboard spikes going up the back.
It was serviceable enough, and I’d imagine the only reason a stegosaurus was the choice was because it’s one of the few dinosaurs that is actually discernible in costume form. A velociraptor would just end up looking like a large lizard, after all, and could easily be mistaken for a komodo dragon, a newt, or Chris Bosh.
3. Some sort of monster or something
My mom was rather adept with a needle, I’ll have you know. In this instance, I am referring to a sewing needle, as I have no indication that she moonlit as a heroin junkie.
She could whip up any manner of arts and crafts, and I reflect with fondness one instance in grade 1 or 2, in which we were supposed to assemble some sort of fancy hat. My mom opted for a bug-squashing theme, constructing a fabulous shoe out of paper that sat atop the crown, alongside a pair of hands that squashed various insects.
I was awarded written acknowledgement for my “hand”some shoe hat, though it was clear to everyone that I had had no involvement in the creative process whatsoever. That story is not at all relevant, but it makes me smile.
This Halloween, mom showcased her skills once again, recreating a costume that I believe was from Women’s Weekly or a similar publication. I’m not sure how close she got to the original design, but I’d posit that my version was superior in every way.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog
This is the big one, and it’s startling that it could only net the silver position on the podium. Startling only to myself, obviously, as nobody else would really give much of a shit one way or the other.
After years of admiration for the blue blur that would sometimes border on obsessive, in 1995 my journey was complete: I am become Sonic, the destroyer of robots.
Look at that body suit right there. Do you see the logo on the chest? This is an officially licensed, way-past-cool item of hedgehog memorabilia, and I was proud to strut myself through the streets of Courtenay that October evening, like a festive otherkin prostitute.
The only drawback was when my nose fell off. By that, I mean the nose on the mask, not my literal nose. It stands to reason that if it had been the latter, I would not look back on this costume with such reverence.
Even better, it still fit like a glove more than twenty years later.
Though this maligned attempt at a 90s gaming mascot never quite reached the lofty height of his contemporaries, he can at least take solace in the fact that for this one, fleeting moment, he is #1.
When he first hit consoles in 1993, Bubsy the Bobcat caused quite a stir. Revisionist history would tell you that people were always repulsed by his overbearing personality, and yet, that is simply not true. Bubsy was much like any other character of his era; sassy, impatient and loaded with energy. The original game was also not too bad, and I will argue this fervently for as long as it takes until people believe me.
Whatever Bubsy was supposed to do or supposed to be, his marketing seemed to work like a charm on my impressionable five-year-old mind. Even before I could read, I was spending hours on end gazing in fascination at the illustrated story in the instruction manual.
That year, I knew for sure that I had to be Bubsy the Bobcat. It’s likely the best decision I’ve ever made in my whole life, and I think the results speak for themselves.
Tongue-clackers out there will perhaps deride the fact that my costume had a green exclamation mark on the shirt, whereas it has always been depicted as red. Here’s the thing though, and it’s the cherry on top: I was the player two version of Bubsy, and his exclamation mark was green.
Checkmate. Mic drop. Go fuck yourself. Whatever the preferred form of gloating is, I can say with confidence that I won Halloween in 1993. Perhaps next year, to celebrate three decades of bobcat mayhem, I should bring this look back for another spin.
What could possibly go wrong?