The Halloween Teabag

“Oh,” said Jonas, although the word ended in a different time zone than it began in.

Heather shrugged in response. She was the cause of this deflated outburst, or at least her attire was, but she didn’t feel that guilt was necessary. She had come in costume, as was customary for a Halloween party, and she’d obviously put in more effort than most, particularly the four slightly post-college men who each had purchased a costume that for licensing purposes had to be marketed as a “Eurasian Traveler.”

Heather had made her own costume. And while it wasn’t particularly skillfully made, it was recognizable, at least by the person it was directed at.

In honor of the protest movement that her mother had joined, Heather was dressed as a teabag.

She had added “I’m with stupid” in red nail polish where “Lipton” would normally go. Before the party, she waited on the couch for her mother to see. Mrs. Dupont involuntarily noticed her daughter and her rare pilgrimage outside her bedroom before remembering that she had nothing to say and dramatically ignoring her. Heather’s unusual dress demanded a second glance, which Mrs. Dupont did grant. She even shook her head at it and rushed into the kitchen. It was the closest thing to words that Heather and her mother had exchanged in four months.

To Jonas, Heather affected a phony Southern Belle accent and declared, “I know it’s not very good. My girl was just turned into a zombie.”

Jonas chuckled and thrust some Smarties into Heather’s hand, which she playfully threw back at him.

In fact, the simple explanation was that the costume was beyond Heather’s skill level. Her experience in sewing was limited to about two weeks in junior high home ec. She was aware that sewing machines existed, and had even used one once, but that didn’t mean that she was comfortable setting it up herself. (Let alone using her mother’s machine, or even rummaging through a closet to find it.) So Heather had bought some white gauzy fabric and attempted to stitch it together by hand.

Cutting was ludicrous; the fabric stretched and was far too large for her to hold and even though she simplified by dispensing with niceties like sleeves, the edges were still as jagged as a werewolf bite. She tried sewing the sheer rectangles together by hand. That attempt lasted half an hour and a total of five stitches.

The next day, Heather bought some strips of Velcro. She chose black, because they were marginally cheaper than the white, and using them made front and back pouches to hold the curled black construction paper that served as tea. Then more Velcro connected the two pouches into something that technically hung on Heather’s frame.

By the time she arrived at the party, the joints were already strained. In the act of tossing candy, she managed to catch the side of her bag on the doorknob, spilling the contents across the floor.

She shrugged and pulled off the entire costume, stuffing it into Jonas’s trick-or-treat bowl. Any kids who want candy, well, they can work for it.

*****

I’m calling this part of Clean Hippie Murders, since it features Heather Dupont, who is if not co-protagonist at least a high-level sidekick. Realistically, however, I doubt that teabagging (in a protest sense) will be relevant by the time it could conceivably be published. So just consider this non-canonical back story.

The inspiration is pretty directly from my life; I am going as a teabag this year (probably without “I’m with stupid,” but who knows) and construction is not going so well. But what can you do?

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