It’s that time of year again…the weather is cooling (a little bit), the Halloween store is back, and the pumpkin spiced lattes are invading. There may not be much of a change in the colors around North Padre Island, and maybe (as a unit) we’re not terribly concerned about fishnet stockings on sale for $5.99, or coffee laced with pumpkin pie seasoning, but it is time for us to start getting ready for the Animal Hospital of Padre Island’s yearly costume contest. It might not seem like a big deal, but (in the past) this event packed a whopping purse of $1000 for the winner, and it’s always a hoot to see the hilarious costumes Island creativity generates. My long-time favorite has been the year Moon Publisher Jan Rankin won for dressing her dog Riley P. up as a mosquito fogging truck. Last year, the Moon staff didn’t compete, although I valiantly begged Jan and Dale to dress their current dog Lizzy up as “Lizzy Bor-Dog” and themselves as her victims.
“Too dark,’ mused Jan. “We can’t just dress up like we got axe murdered by our dog, Ab.”
“Jan, it’s called Halloween, not Hollow-Weenie,” I argued, but the subject was closed.
A very pretty girl dressed as Pocohontas (“Poco-Hotness” in Moon office vernacular) and her pug won the big purse. While this costume was very cute, it definitely wasn’t up to the standards of the one-woman Island Moon Dog Couture and Treat Dispenser, Jan Rankin. While Jan has yet to share her top-secret plan for costuming Lizzy (I’m desperately hoping that she dresses Dale up as Sherlock Holmes and Lizzy as the Hound of the Baskervilles), I’ve been throwing suggestions for my poor dog Stadler’s outfit around like they were 5-for-a-dollar ping pong balls that just might win me a mostly-alive goldfish at the county fair.
All my other notions pale before this one: Stadler is BATDOG! The idea came to me the other day as I watched my pup sleep in her customary position in front of the box fan by my bed. She snoozes with all four paws in the air, head lolled off to one side, tongue slightly stuck out — hogging every breath of breeze from the big fan. In this pose, Stadler looks remarkably like a flying fox. More importantly, she looks enough like a big, fluffy (if befuddled) bat to warrant me dressing up as Batman.
Now, I’m not saying that I have the chest for it, but neither did Clooney, and at least parts of my padding would be au natural. Also, I always want a cape. If you ask me what I’m doing at any given moment in my life, including trying to get someone to give me the Heimlich because I’m choking to death on a Dorito, somewhere in the recesses of my brain lurks the thought that “this would be WAY better if I only had a cape.” When I was little, I would combine non-cape wearing super heroes with cape wearing ones just so I could wrap my mother’s towels around my neck and jump off the furniture. So what if Spiderman didn’t have a cape? He clearly needed one – especially because I only had the two pairs of under-roos and Wonder Woman was in the wash.
And, as I thought further about our situation, I realized that it’s not just about me, capes, and excuses for wearing them. Stadler might actually BE BATDOG! She’s constructed the perfect cover: hyper, doesn’t consistently remember how rugs work, bumbling, extremely angry at the mailman for no discernible reason, buries ice cubes in the back yard and then gets upset when they’re gone, sometimes forgets that you can’t run directly through inanimate objects… but only by day…by night: BATDOG! I really thought I had cracked her cover, but many people who know both of us strongly disagreed. The most notable BATDOG debunker was my friend (and expert resource on the rules to “The Floor is Hot Lava”), Paddy. His first thought was that I was “losing it” and “needed some sleep,” but after a brilliant salvo in which I told him the amount of last year’s prize money, he came on board with his own suggestions.
“Get her one of those T-Rex costumes everyone is wearing,” he insisted.
“She’s a girl dog, Paddy. The only dinosaur costumes available for girl dogs will be slutty because that’s how Halloween works. One time, I tried to find an insane clown costume because I was going to be one of the “Killer Klowns From Outerspace,” but the only ones available in girl sizes looked like they were supposed to be really tacky prostitutes with terrible perms.”
“On that note,” Paddy continued, “you could dress her up like Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex and the City. All you’d need is a horse mask and an Appletini.”
“NO! Out of the question! I’d have to go as professional apologist, Matthew Broderick… Plus, there’s a chance that she really is BATDOG!”
“Ab, Stadler is NOT BATDOG. You’re going to have to face it. Plus, if you try to make this costume, you’re going to wind up hot gluing yourself and six yards of black satin to the floor, and I’ll have to drive to Corpus and rescue you. “
“I’m not giving up on BATDOG. Get your own dog if you want to dictate dog costumes. I already taught her to get all whack-a-doodle every time I yell, ‘BATDOG!’ She’d be totally ready to fight crime, if she could ever find any…or knew what it was.”
“Just make her wear a fez,” Paddy sighed. “There’s nothing funnier than a dog in a fez.”
He may be correct.
However, just in case of a Halloween Paddy incursion, I’ve created a hard and fast rule amongst my friends: “No putting Stadler in a horse mask and trying to pass her off as Sarah Jessica Parker.” I think it’s safer for everyone.