Saturday afternoon was the Halloween party at the embassy. I spent the last two weeks milling over ideas for The Bushbaby’s first costume. I’d lie in bed looking toward my studio (which until Friday was still strewn with boxes and other moving detritus) considering what I had left to work with. In Luanda there is no popping out to a thrift or craft store and picking up whatever items you may be lacking for the perfect final touches. I was forced to work with the materials on hand. I’ve unapologetically edited my costume trunk from the 6 years spent in New Orleans where sequins, fringe and pleather are as much a part of the culture as brass bands and gumbo. After a brief but memorable stint as a PussyFooter (a Mardi Gras dance troupe that shimmied, marched and boogied in the Muses parade) I had an enviable collection of fine costumery. But as we all know, priorities shift and there comes a time when things like fuchsia knee high boots, feather boas or sparkly metallic eyelashes no longer make the short list of what to drag around the world with you. Tragic really.
Fortunately for the honey dumpling, mama had hung onto a few key pieces. I spent the bulk of my time digging through the studio untangling sewing machine power cords and unruly bobbins. Once some semblance of order was reached I got to work on construction, turning a pair of orange hot-pants into webbed feet and a pepto-pink mini into a poofy set of fringed wings. Next, I layered fishnets over a sparkly pair of tights (which were stuffed with fiber fill) and then stitched on the feet. I finished off the look with a pair of shades and a crocheted hat from Gram topped with my wedding day fascinator. And come on, a baby in sunglasses? Please. That would have been costume enough.
The most shocking part of this story is that The Bushbaby totally loved it. I couldn’t believe how cooperative she was. We wrangled her into her costume as she groggily laughed and cooed. Despite our little pink bird’s lack of actual feathers, others were able to figure out what she was. After about an hour of being paraded around, poked, prodded and squealed at she finally started to lose her cool. Luckily the costume judging took place within that magical hour and our flamingo kid snagged first prize! We forfeited the wax monster teeth and sack of candy that came with that distinguished honor but proudly accepted the laminated certificate.