I thought I might be Wonder Woman for Halloween. I saw the movie, of course, and I loved Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, of course. She was strong and beautiful, in control of her own destiny, and passionate about the well-being of all of humankind. What better character to dress up as?
Some might say that it’s silly for an adult to dress up as a comic book character. Isn’t Halloween for kids, after all? My excuse is the fact that I work in a preschool, a workplace that encourages dress-up play on a daily basis. But the Wonder Woman movie was rated PG-13, so the preschoolers might not have seen it. Would they be able to relate to Ms. Peggy as Wonder Woman? My guess is yes.
The best part about a Wonder Woman costume has got to be her powerful bracelets. I didn’t read superhero comic books much as a kid, tending to go for Richie Rich or Archie. But when I saw the Amazons in the movie with their leather skirts and shining bracelets, I recognized them from some forgotten corner of my childhood. I must have had at least one Wonder Woman comic book that imprinted those images on my brain. Amazon women were part of my makeup. I could surely be one for Halloween. I could whip up a pair of bracelets with tinfoil, or wrap some duct tape around cardboard. Those bracelets, combined with my long hair done up in Amazon braids, would convey the essence of Wonder Woman.
But there is one catch. I turned fifty-five this past summer. I can’t even rationalize my fascination with Wonder Woman as a mid-life crisis, unless I plan to live to be one hundred and ten years old (which might be a worthy goal, come to think of it). Mid-life crisis: been there, done that. By most accounts, I’m on the downhill slide in the journey of life. Remember that nationwide speed limit campaign, when the speed limit on the interstates was set at 55 miles per hour? Well, you only remember that if you’re as old as I am, since it started in 1974 during the Nixon administration. Double nickels, they called it. Anyway, I’m the speed limit now. I’m getting solicitations from AARP and Sunset Magazine. I even had one of the preschoolers tell me that I had an old-lady kind of face and old lady hair. To be fair, she hadn’t seen my Amazon braids, so her perceptions were a bit limited.
Age is a matter of perspective, after all. I remember chatting with my grandmother at her ninetieth birthday party. She was reminiscing about sitting at the feet of her grandfather when she was a little girl, listening to his stories about the Civil War. I asked Gran if he was old when he was telling those stories. Her response, from the perspective of a ninety-year-old, was, “No, he wasn’t old. He was about eighty.” I was in my twenties when this conversation took place, and I would have said, “Oh, yes, he was old. Very, very old.” It depends on where you stand on the timeline.
From my perspective in my sixth decade of life, I figure I can wear whatever I want for Halloween. But I might change my mind about Wonder Woman. I might go for another strong, fearless woman who controls her own destiny and serves as an example for young and old alike: the Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. Anyone who is not familiar with this fantastic picture book by Linda Williams and illustrated by Megan Lloyd has a Halloween treat in store for them. As she journeys home through the forest after dark, pursued by a motley assortment of wiggling, clomping clothing and one very scary pumpkin head, the Little Old Lady proclaims, “I’m not afraid of you!” She is every bit as inspiring as Wonder Woman, even if she doesn’t wear bracelets. And from my perspective at fifty-five, a good look at the illustrations suggests that she might not be so old after all.
All I would need for this costume is an orange dress, an apron and a floppy straw hat. And the best part: the preschoolers all know about the Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.
Halloween is a few days from now. Will I dress up as Wonder Woman or the Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything? Only time will tell.
• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother and debut author who writes cozy mysteries under the name “Greta McKennan.” Her first novel, Uniformly Dead, is available at Hearthside Books. She likes to look at the bright side of life.