Five minutes makes a surprising difference

Halloween was fine when I was a child. We dressed up and went trick-or-treating, and I would save my candy in a box under my bed for weeks.

But I was a little distressed when I found out that, as an adult, I was still expected to participate in Halloween. I didn't have the interest or energy to come up with a costume.

Then one year I solved the problem. I invented a costume that can be made in just five minutes, using paper, scissors, paper clips, and tape.

I was working for a company that encouraged employees to wear Halloween costumes on or just before Oct. 31. My first year there, I didn't know about the tradition, so I was little surprised to see a co-worker show up at work dressed as an octopus - tentacles and all. Another person dressed as a linebacker for his favorite college football team, and our boss wore native Kazakh attire.

There were many other impressive costumes, and part of the morning was devoted to admiring everyone's contribution.

I began to feel out of place in my everyday clothes. I liked my co-workers and wanted to fit in, but how could I get a costume at 9:15 in the morning without leaving the office?

Thank goodness for my arts education. I went to the workroom, took a heavy piece of paper from the recycling bin, and cut two 3-by-3 in. squares. I fashioned them into pointy ears and paper-clipped them into my hair.

Then I cut six long whiskers, wide at one end and skinny at the other. I taped three whiskers on each side of my mouth.

It was a simple paper cat costume.

But would it work? Would the ears and whiskers stay in place all day, and would my costume pass muster with the boss? Would it look as if I'd remembered the day and planned ahead?

Although it was minimalist in design, the paper cat was a success.

The only difficulty I encountered was getting the phone to my ear without crunching my whiskers. But to everyone's delight, the whiskers moved up and down whenever I talked, laughed, or chewed.

Since that day, I've always been ready for Halloween. As long as paper, scissors, paper clips, and tape are available, I can construct a costume in minutes - and participate with joy.

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