Chris was a preschooler, only four or five, when he decided to be a ghost for Halloween. Good mother that I am, I sewed a real costume. No simple sheet for my child.

I fashioned a white tunic for him that slipped over his head, elastic around the neckline, and long sleeves, with a separate hood that went to his shoulders and had holes cut for eyes and mouth. Pretty scary looking!

On Halloween night, after putting on his costume, Chris decided it billowed too much. He didn’t want the fabric getting in the way while walking through the neighborhood trick-or-treating, so he tied a short rope around his waist and set out, looking very ghostly, we thought, in the dark.

One of the homes we visited was that of a teacher from his preschool. She seemed truly surprised and scared when she saw Chris at her door. We were thrilled with our success in costume design.

Years later, however, when looking at old pictures, we realized that Chris actually looked like a member of the Ku Klux Klan rather than a ghost.

And the teacher who looked so surprised and scared? Yes, she was black.

Of course.

Not a successful costume design after all.

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