Over the weekend, I’ve been trying to remember an interesting Halloween story from childhood, but I’m pretty sure I’ve already exhausted them over the five-year course of the blog. Well, except for this one memory, which is very vivid, and yet I’ve never had any place to put it. And to be honest, it’s more of a non-sequitur than a story. But I guess I’ll put it here.
One year, my mother wanted to dress our cat up as a cowboy for Halloween. However, she did not have a cat-sized cowboy hat. Today, you could easily order one off the Internet (there are probably entire websites devoted to cat-sized cowboy hats for all I know), but in the 1980s, there was no such thing. People didn’t even really dress up their pets with the same fervor that they do now.
For weeks my mother obsessed over where/how she might obtain a cat-sized cowboy hat. She hummed the Bonanza theme song to the cat. She searched pet stores and costume stores, but none of them carried tiny cowboy hats. She went to yard sales searching, perhaps for some stuffed animal wearing a hat that she could re-purpose. But she always came back empty-handed, surely to the cat’s relief.
Then one day, while we were driving through another town, she saw one hanging in a tree in someone’s yard. “There’s a tiny cowboy hat hanging in that tree!” she pointed from the window. “It even has a string to tie it under the cat’s chin!” She begged my father to pull over so she could take it, but he refused, because that would have been completely crazy. And also stealing.
I don’t know why but I think about this all the time. What if she did steal that hat and it fit perfectly on the cat’s head? I mean yeah, stealing/craziness aside, you got to think that randomly driving by a tiny cowboy hat hanging from a tree was a sign, like it was meant to be.
Maybe it was the strangeness of that one fleeting desire. My mother never expressed an interest in dressing up any of the pets, dog or cat, ever again, any other year.
Maybe it’s because I decided it was something I day-dreamed. Like that really happened. Like outdoor ornamental cowboy tree-hangings exist. It just sounds like something you think up as a kid while staring out the car window. But then I recently asked my mother about it.
“Mom, do you remember the time you wanted to dress the cat up as a cowboy and we passed by a tiny cowboy hat hanging in a tree? Did that happen or did I imagine that?”
“Yeah, I remember. Dad wouldn’t pull over to steal it,” she said with some still-lingering regret.
Stealing that cowboy hat would have been the true Wild West way of dressing the cat up for Halloween. The Internet makes everything easy these days, but it doesn’t make it as weird.