I remember growing up and having my older uncles and aunts saying things like, “I remember 50 years ago when . . .” a whole whack of times. When you are a youngster 50 years seems like a very long time. In fact, it seemed as if 50 years was a pretty good “lifetime” to Grumpy Junior.
Little Grumpy believed this so strongly that he put an amendment into his prayers every night. Kneeling beside his bed he’d sigh and end his payer with, “And, God, please let me live until I’m 50!”
Well, he prayed this so many times he actually got a little queasy on the eve of his 50th birthday.
What if the big guy was listening? What if Grumpy had reached his expiry date?
Nowadays Grumpy finds himself spewing this exact same “50 year” statement, given that he has long passed that deadline. This blog will be just one of those times.
So, here goes!
Grumpy remembers the time 50 YEARS AGO today when he dressed up as a woman. This was the first and only time he ever did that. You see it was Kenny’s idea and what Kenny wanted Kenny usually got.
You see Kenny was the toughest guy in the school and the hood. One look from him and you’d want to flip on your back like Pumba the Farting Dog and submit. Grumpy was smart enough to put Kenny into the best friend category. You see, every pintsized kid needed a protector on the school playgrounds of the 50’s and 60’s. Having a personal body guard at St. Andrew’s Public School was a lifesaver.
“Hey, boys, let’s go beat the snot outta that grumpy little kid!”
“Naw bad idea, Bart. He hangs out with Kenny. See, I’d like to keep my front teeth.”
Because Kenny was a tough guy he’d like to fight even when it wasn’t the real deal.
“Hey, Grumpy, let’s have a play fight,” he’d say.
These play fights were knock down drag-them-out brawls that usually left bruises and abrasions. These “play fights” were daily, usually on the front lawn of his house. When Grumpy sees MMA or UFC fights, they remind him of the punch ups and grappling with Kenny.
You never wanted to go to ground with Kenny. He could make you feel like a squished beetle. These battles were that intense! But, Grumpy swears to this day that Kenny made Grumpy a much tougher street rat.
Anyway, when Kenny came up to Grumpy in the Eighth Grade and said, “Let’s dress up like girls on Halloween night”, Grumpy had no choice but to answer, “Yes!” You don’t say no to Kenny unless you like nose bleeds, split lips or “noogies”.
Now, if you were to dress up as a woman in the 1960’s and go out in public, it was a good thing having a tough guy like Kenny at your side. Little Grumpy’s only concern was, “Would the other bullies in the hood even recognize him?” Maybe Kenny was setting us up for some candy bag battle royals. Maybe we were to be like Trojan Horses – accepted as sweet little girls but really full of piss and vinegar when it came down to candy collecting and confrontations.
You see in those days, bands of roving candy-bag snatchers could make your Halloween a nightmare. It was a jungle out there.
Kenny had other ideas though, because Kenny had a heart as big as a beach ball.
“No one will suspect it’s us,” he offered, “So, like we can protect all of the little kids. They’ll probably pay us off with a few treats.”
We asked our mothers for an old dress, found some fake long hair and got our faces made up with lipstick, rouge and eyeliner. We tackled the problem of “boobs” head on, given that our thirteen year old minds were preoccupied with that subject anyway.
Nowadays, teenagers and boobs are a non-starter. These girls flaunt them like jewellery, leaving nothing to the imagination. Go to any mall and there’s more cleavage exposed than those on the rocks of the San Andreas Fault in California.
As an aside, just the other day Grumpy saw a bra displayed in a lingerie store window and asked the wife, “What gives with that contraption?”
“Well, Grumpy,” she explained, “that bra is to push the breasts together and give them a lift.”
All Grumpy could think about was why would you want to put your boobs in a vice?
But 50 years ago, Grumpy being the creative thinker in this gang of two, suggested balloons for the costumes.
Kenny loved the idea saying, “Ya, balloons for bazooms will be really rad!”
(If you were born after 1970: rad = radical)
Well, of course, we blew those balloons up to Playboy Pinup proportion. The bonus was that they also would provide protection for upper body blows should a scrap erupt.
And, guess what?
Kenny decided he would wear pumps. Grumpy wondered if Kenny could run in those high heels. On second thought, because most kids ran away from Kenny anyways, wearing pumps was a non-issue.
So, not unlike the New York subway’s Guardian Angels, Grumpy and Kenny set out to meet the night. Like two Robin Hoods in drag, out they trudged with Kenny trying not to stumble in his pumps and little Grumpy attempting to keep his “balloon bazooms” from slipping to his knees.
First, you must realize that two tough guys DO NOT “Trick-or-Treat” door-to-door. Rather, they use interrogation along with a little intimidation to find the treasures along the way.
KENNY: “Hey, kid, you know where the good treats are on this street?”
LITTLE KID: (Shaking in his monster costume) “Ah, we got chocolate bars at number 22, Sir!”
KENNY: “What kind?”
LITTLE KID: (Almost crying) “I . . .I . . . I . . .forget!”
KENNY: “Pull er out and show me!”
We’d only knock on the doors of the “good treat” places.
This cut down on our time standing in doorways doing “tricks” like singing, telling a joke or doing a dance. We also realized that this was our last kick-at-the-cat because NO ONE above the Eighth Grade went out on Halloween. NO ONE!
Nowadays, you almost have more high schoolers and adults hitting you up for candy than children. Don Mills, in his humor Blog, describes it this way.
“These damned teens refuse to say “trick or treat,” won’t make eye contact and sure as hell don’t bother with costumes. They just roll their eyes and stick a sack under your nose while text messaging their location to other scurrilous moochers in search of easy prey. If they intend to carry on with this shameless behavior the least they could do is dress like hobos or – perhaps more accurately – petty thieves.” http://crabbyoldfart.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/god-damned-teenage-trick-or-treaters-drive-me-batty/ (READ THE ENTIRE BLOG FOR A GOOD CHUCKLE)
We also dealt with the “trick” part by coming up with a song we would sing to the householder, upon request. Seeing as we were attractive women, we latched on to the theme song from the “Miss America Contest.”
Our take on the song was this, “Here she comes . . . Miss Al-a-vees-tee-ah!”
We laughed so hard every time we sang the song that we also took to singing as we rambled up the street. Imagine the shock and awe of all the children in the neighborhood when they saw the toughest guy in the hood, along with his pee wee sidekick, both dressed like women, singing at the top of their lungs and laughing like idiots.
Indeed, some kids hid behind trees, cowered in the bushes or quickly crossed to the opposite side of the street. Apparently, there’s nothing scarier than crazed tough guys dressed as woman.
But it doesn’t end there because, as the evening wound down, word got out that someone was handing out CANDY APPLES over on Lansdowne Avenue. Candy apples were the be-all-and-end-all of Halloween Treats.
With that Kenny stated emphatically. “I ain’t walkin’ that far. No way, Jose. Let’s get our bikes!”
So, off we trundled, peddling madly with Kenny’s pumps shoved down the front of his dress so he could go barefoot and Grumpy’s “balloon bazooms” bouncing off the handle bars.
When we got to Lansdowne it turned out that all those CANDY APPLES had been handed out. Even without cell phones, news travelled fast in those days – face-to-face conversations and word-of-mouth was just about LIGHT SPEED, especially on Halloween. There was a “candy connection” between all of us.
Over the course of the evening we protected many a little kid from bag burglars, we chased away the tough guy wannabees, dabbed a few tears from little kids who were scared, and generally policed our hood with abandon. Yes, we were undercover – dressed as women – but, let me tell you this, no one would doubt the force of Kenny’s voice or the look in his eyes.
Even when Kenny was dressed as a woman, if he said “jump”, everyone in his presence would say “how high?” And those pumps made him at least 4 inches taller.
All the while the hood echoed with the refrain, ““Here she comes . . . Miss Al-a-vees-tee-ah!”
Kenny and Grumpy ended their Halloween evening in drag with their backs propped up against a tree, munching on “only the best treats” the neighborhood had to offer. They had laughed themselves to tears such that their makeup ran down their cheeks. It was a night to remember. The Goodfellas had made their mark.
It’s hard to believe that all of this occurred 50 years ago. I guess I should thank God for that, given that I’m writing about it now. Sometimes your prayers are answered, even when you’re a little kid.