‘Connie’s Costume Capers’ was a small and musty hole in the wall costume store, overflowing with an eclectic collection of outfits, ranging from Dracula complete with cape, teeth and little plastic viles of what looked like blood, to a huge black and white cows head that sat atop a plastic mannequin wearing Marilyn Monroe’s famous white dress. It was a place where you could be anyone except who you wanted to be; it even said so on the brass plaque outside the door. Minnie wondered where Connie was; perhaps she could convince her mother that a girl like Minnie was more suited to dressing like a pirate than a fairy. But Minnie soon forgot about Connie, she forgot about everyone and everything else, once she saw the furry purple and blue head of a monster costume peering out at her from in between Minnie and Mickey mouse. Minnie thought it was the most perfect thing she had ever seen. She grabbed her mothers hand pulled her over where the little monster was hiding, and started pointing to it feverishly, begging her mother to let her try it on. “Oh no, Minnie, that’s not for little girls. Besides, it’s ghastly! Why don’t you try this one on instead”, she said, holding up the garishly oversize head of Minnie Mouse. “Look, it’s got your name on it and everything!” Minnie stared up at the bulbous face of her namesake, and began to cry. She would not stop crying, and her mother was getting quite furious with her. She would not stop crying until Connie herself came over to see what all the fuss was about; she was a wizened old lady wearing thickly plastered costume make up and smelling faintly of cigarettes, but Minnie thought she looked like a fairy godmother. In her prime, Connie had been a famous burlesque performer, but time and age had relegated her to the world of costume, which she had pursued fondly, caught up in lingering nostalgia for the ‘old days’. Minnie liked her instantly, but her mother was not so convinced.
“What’s wrong honey?” she asked Minnie kindly, her voice rattling harshly but not unpleasantly, bending down to look her in the eyes. Minnie liked it when grown ups addressed her, because they nearly always spoke to her through her mother. “She isn’t doing as she’s told,” her mother replied firmly, wrongly assuming that she had just been addressed. Connie had met with mothers like this before. In fact, she didn’t much like adults, she preferred talking to children; they seemed to have a more profound understanding of her.
Connie smiled down kindly at Minnie, her face breaking out into a thousand wrinkles like a crumpled piece of paper, and she stopped crying instantly, wiping her nose on her sleeve. “I want to be the monster” she said firmly. “He looks warm and cozy and safe!”
“An excellent choice!” Connie replied, much to Minnie’s mother’s dismay, “The monster will protect you against any evil, and keep you all wrapped up against the cold in his purple and blue coat. He is an excellent friend to have around.”
“Just like Batman?” Minnie cried. Connie laughed, a laugh that sounded like china plates thrown against a tolling bell. “Exactly like Batman” she replied, ruffling Minnie’s dark, wispy waif hair. Minnie beamed; her mind was made up, and there was nothing her mother could do that could bend her child’s iron will otherwise.