This year for Halloween, Ezra was a monkey. Not just any monkey. He was Bubbles, the monkey love of his life.
A few years ago, we bought the yet-unnamed monkey at a Village Thrift to use in a puzzle hunt. We weren’t intending for him to become a toy for Ezra because he was kind of gross and heavy and smelled like a thrift store. After the puzzle, I packed the monkey away in a trunk with some other excess toys, planning to eventually re-donate it to charity. A few months ago, I opened the trunk to see what was in there, and when I lifted out the monkey Ezra’s eyes turned into a little cartoon heart shapes and tiny cartoon birds began circling his head whistling love songs. He hugged it to his tiny chest and sighed with the contentment of someone who has at last found his true love.
So the monkey, rather than heading back to the thrift store from whence he came, went directly into Ezra’s crib where he joined a growing coterie we refer to as “the dudes,” all named after characters from The Wire. The monkey became Bubbles, the owl is Cedric, the dog, after a brief stint as a skinny Prop Joe, is called Marlo, and the polar bear is Herc. Bubbles is literally at the top of the heap of dudes I create for Ezra before every nap and bedtime, and when I heave him into the crib, he goes in with arms outstretched for a Bubbles hug. Yesterday before his nap, he grabbed Bubbles and sat right up, and, looking me right in the eye, said a pointed “BYE” and blew me a kiss, and then waited for me to leave so he and Bubbles could have a private conversation.
So, I thought it would be fun to make Ezra a Bubbles suit for Halloween. I used the exact same pattern as last year, in a larger size, and made the suit out of two shades of fleece. I added a few Bubbles-specific details like the sewn-on belly button, blue ribbon around his tail, and a ratty tag with his name scrawled on it in marker (Bubbles’ tag proclaims him to have been known back in ’03 as “Bobo”). A monkey hood and monkey feet completed the ensemble. We even gave him a messy brown monkey nose with eyeliner.
Then, a few days before Halloween, we tried to put the suit on him for the first time. Oh, the screaming. He sometimes resists a diaper change or squirms through the putting on of a shirt, but this was full on screams of rage and terror. He was miserable. We felt like monsters. It happened every single time we put the suit on him that week.
But, each time, moments after we secured all the velcro and pulled the booties onto his feet, his tears stopped, he popped out of my lap, and he went calmly back to playing. Once he was in the costume, he could be Bubbles for 2, 3, 4 hours, and never bat an eyelash. But at the moment we tried to suit him up, he utterly lost it.
My theory is this. Much like Dr. Bruce Banner and his alter-ego the Incredible Hulk, Ezra feared becoming a monkey. He wanted to stay a boy. As the monkey suit approached, he tried to stop the inevitable transformation by screaming and wailing, but it could not be stopped. As soon as the metamorphosis was complete, though, he relaxed into his new identity. “If fate decrees that I am to be a monkey,” he reasoned, “I will be the most adorable monkey in the world.”