I used to be a blanket. Fresh out of my Bed, Bath & Beyond plastic, I rested on the couch—white, soft and new. But as the year wore on and the days got colder, a pair of little feet curled underneath me. Grubby and slightly smelly, they burrowed into my softness for comfort after school or while watching cartoons in the afternoon light.
As another season passed, I lost my softness. I resembled a creamy beige, with spots of apple juice and chocolate smeared into the corners. The same grubby little feet that curled up for warmth still tucked themselves under me when it got cold again in mid-October.
This was my favorite season.
As the days wore on, I gradually moved from the couch to the coffee table, then finally to the floor where I sat neglected for several days. But just when I thought all was lost, a grown-up hand pulled me from under the couch and said, “Use this for your costume, sweetie. You said you wanted to be a ghost, and I simply can’t afford to let you cut up one of my good bed sheets.”
“Okay mommy, but I need help with the scissors.”
The next thing I knew, I was splayed out under the lights on the dining table, undergoing surgery. They cut two holes in my not-so-white center.
But what happened next was the most fun I’d ever had. That night, she draped me over her fluffy head, and there I rested on her little pigtails as we dashed around the neighborhood yelling things like “BOO!” and “Trick or Treat!”
I soared. In that moment, I was a ghost—a spirit of Halloween and fun and the creativity of the same pair of grubby feet who changed my color from white to beige.
After Halloween, I was not quite the same. I was still a blanket, but now I sat in a pile at the end of her little, pink bed. Her feet still tucked under me all winter, but I was no longer a piece of décor.
I stayed here for quite some time, but it was a long while before I ventured out again.
She was gone longer during the day—hanging out with her friends or playing volleyball at the junior high gym. Her bedspread changed from pink to purple, and the last time we’d seen each other she painted her nails on top of me. Add nail polish to the list of things I now carried: apple juice, dirt, two holes and a smudge of nail polish.
But one night, during my favorite season, she ran into the room crying. “I have nothing to wear for my costume, Mom,” she wailed. “I am supposed to go the dance as a Greek goddess and I have nothing at all!”
This time, I sat by a pile of dirty clothes and smelly socks when the same grown up hand reached down, picked me up and shook me out.
“This is close enough to what a goddess would wear—after I wash it, that is.”
She looked up from her tears, smirked at her mother and then thought twice about me as I hung there, a limp rag that just maybe would get to be a toga. She wiped her nose and shook her head in a reluctant “yes.” The next thing I knew, I was tumbling around with soap and water and about ten pairs of dirty socks.
That night, I added “fit for a goddess” to my repertoire. We danced and spun and pretended we didn’t notice when that girl from seventh period showed up dressed as a (lesser) Greek goddess. We were the stars of the Halloween junior high dance—she the goddess, and me, the royal costume.
This was the last time I saw something besides the linen closet for a long while. To be honest, I wasn’t sure why they just didn’t throw me away, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was because I make such a spooky ghost and a stellar toga. You don’t toss talent, after all.
A few years after, she packed me in a box labeled “College Stuff.” I wasn’t really welcome in that box of picture frames and knick knacks, but a dirty blanket made good packing wrap.
Luckily, it was cold in the college dormitory—otherwise I might not have made it out of that box under the bed. But as it happened, I got lucky again, and that same pair of not-so-little grubby feet tucked me around themselves as it got colder.
October rolled around, and I overheard talk of parties and Halloween and costumes again. I hoped to get a third shot at stardom, but the costumes they were “oohing” and “ahhing” over on her laptop were not exactly what I was used to.
“You guys, we have to be bunnies for Halloween,” one of the girls wearing too much perfume shrieked. “It would make total sense—we could have little tails and it would be cute, but also sexy!”
A week later, the planning began. I was pretty okay with sitting this one out. Unfortunately, my fluff peeked out from the corner of her bed when the same girl with too much perfume spotted me.
“This is perfect for our tails!” she yelled, yanking me from the bed.
“You think so? I mean it’s not exactly cotton-ball soft, but it’s already got a few holes in it,” she said. I looked at her feet and thought about the time her little hands cut the holes in me right before
we spooked the neighborhood.
It was a losing battle, though. They cut me in two and parceled me off to be bunched into bunny tails. White thread sewed through my not-so-white half into the bottom of three pairs of black leggings. I was a bunny tail—er, tails, to be specific.
Sure, there are worse things in life, but I was not a fan of flopping around on the girls’ backsides in a loud fraternity house while they pretended to be proud of their ingenuity and bunny-ear headbands. When the night was over, I was less of a blanket than I was before, but it was still an experience.
Now that I was only a small piece of dirty blanket, I was really forgotten—only this time it was in the laundry room of the dormitory. When the delivery truck finally picked me up, I was taken away to a donation bin on the other side of town. It was cold again by the time I laid on top of the heap of old clothes and hand-me-downs, but just when I thought I was done with the glory and comfort of couches and costumes, something happened.
It was an especially chilly afternoon in October, and there had been more families and scruffy men than usual rummaging through the donation bins. Suddenly, a little pair of grubby hands grabbed my nail-polish tinted corner, and with one tough tug I was pulled from the bin into the fluorescent light.
“This one, mommy!” The little pair of hands held me up proudly like a lost treasure. “It even has the eye holes for me!”
He was right. His mother looked down from her own digging (she was looking for a coat for him), and sighed as she picked me up. I could tell she thought I was dirty, and I was obviously not a whole blanket anymore. But what was she going to do when all that little pair of dirty hands wanted was a Halloween costume?
“Sure, baby, it’s perfect,” she said, placing me back into his hands.
That night, I was a ghost again—a pretty good one at that. A little shorter and a little thinner than the first time around, but this time the eye holes in my fluff lit up with joy.
“BOO!” said the pair of grubby hands, and I spirited down the street one last time.