But that doesn't mean he didn't need a costume. He's playing the March Hare in an upcoming school performance of Alice in Wonderland, and that meant a recent trip to Party City for a few accessories. The two items he'd rather his dad not attempt to produce out of cardboard and duct tape: a bowler hat and a set of rabbit ears.
To get to Party City, we had to drive past a slightly run-down area near Bailey's Crossroads. It's an agglomeration of warehouses and gritty little businesses, one of which is the bare-knuckled motorcycle shop where I take my ride to be maintained. Other industries there include some garages, a cheap used car lot, and a little hole in the wall which seems to mostly specialize in waterpipes, hookahs, and other "tobacco" paraphernalia.
Among the businesses in that gritty little district, there's an...um..."adult product" store. Most of those businesses have been crushed out of existence by the internet and its false promise of anonymity, but this one still stubbornly operates. In the front windows, under the couple of neon signs that still work, there are an array of mannequins. All of them are female, and all of them are wearing outfits that were probably the height of titillation back in the 1980s. I'm sure, somewhere in there, there are Betamax videos. I'm not planning on going in to check, but it seems likely.
My son, being 1) observant and 2) a thirteen year old boy, didn't fail to notice the store, and we talked about it for a moment or three. It gave me the opportunity to reintroduce him to the word "skeevy," which he agreed was an excellent and accurate descriptive term.
We passed on by that gritty section of Baileys, and into one of the strip-malls, the one where Party City lies. They were in full Halloween mode, with fully half of the store dedicated to costumery for the season. It was crowded with kids and their parents, all seeking product for the upcoming corn-syrup and sugar bacchanal.
We found a hat, and then gloves, and then a cane, as he managed to upsell his dad in ways that make me believe that being a Vice President for International Marketing may well be in that lad's future. The final piece of the costume proved a bit trickier. Fake chainsaws and Avengers outfits? Sure. But rabbit ears? Those weren't available. Or, rather, the ones we found were tiny, meant for a toddler's costume.
Not being a fool, I knew where else in the store such ears...larger ones...might be found. I did a quick bit of mental calculus, and then he and I went to the side wall of the store, where there were indeed bunny ears. It was the section for adults, or rather, female adults. There were the ears. They were white, which was going to mean we'd need to dye them to avoid confusion with the white rabbit. That was entirely doable.
But the wall was also filled with other costume accessories. Lace masks. Fishnet stockings. Collars. Bustiers. That sort of thing. Most didn't even bother with the "sexy nurse/ vampire/ librarian/ congresswoman" schtick. A couple of girls, maybe fifteen or sixteen, were looking over them, clucking, taking pictures with their smartphones.
And my son said, Hey, Dad, this is exactly the same as that other store.
He wasn't wrong.