The child experiments with being a pirate skeleton

The Child Experiments with Being a Pirate Skeleton

Digital photo with post processing
2005

On the series: These portraits were more collaborative efforts with my young son, than my simply taking pictures of him. He would prepare a situation and would ask that a picture be taken, which is how the series began. He wanted to see how what he'd dreamed up looked like through the eye of the camera, and enjoyed having it preserved--probably like most children. Then when I was working on a picture in post production I would ask him what he thought as we both conjured a photo befitting his dream.

On this photo: Halloween afforded the opportunity to become a dramatic pirate skeleton.

The child experiments with being a pirate skeleton #2

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The Child Experiments with Being a Pirate Skeleton #2

Digital photo with post processing
2005

H.o.p.'s godmother, every year, sent him a Halloween costume. H.o.p. kept each one for many years, excepting the body of the first costume, a dino which was worn nearly every day and unraveled to little pieces. My favorite was an incredible plush tiger costume, which wowed H.o.p. as well, though his usual choice was to either be a dinosaur or a dragon.

H.o.p.'s first choice in this particular year was again a dino or dragon. But the costume industry believes dragons and dinos are best suited for the Barney-aged set, and no costume dino or dragon in his size was available. H.o.p. wasn't broken up over it. He immediately decided he would be a skeleton pirate instead.

When H.o.p. was a little tyke, one of his favorite movies was "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and for a year, when he was three, he carried everywhere with him a little florescent skeleton toy and slept with it every night. As he slept with us, we slept with it too and it was a magical little thing glowing green in the dark, one of the nicest formed little toy skeletons I've ever seen, which I held together as long as I could, when it began tearing apart, by supergluing it then tying it back together with little black tendon threads.

A four-foot Halloween skeleton hung on H.o.p.'s door for many years.

In case you haven't seen "James and the Giant Peach", there's a deep sea, treasure-hoarding skeleton pirate in it that is the same Jack Skeleton sans the intelligence, inspirational romantic disposition to pursue impossible dreams, and pumpkin-head charm, which was what H.o.p.'s image of what he would be this Halloween, Jack Skeleton as swashbuckling pirate winning out over Jack Skeleton silhouetted deep in angsty philosophical speculation against a harvest moon.

So we informed H.o.p.'s godmother that year's choice was a skeleton with a pirate hat. The store proved not to have H.o.p.'s size in a skeleton costume so the larger size was mailed, the idea being if it was too big then it could be returned and another outfit found in time for Halloween. H.o.p. was statistically, exactly the size of your average nine-year-old (at least according to the charts) and as this costume was supposedly sized for something like a ten-year-old I had hopes but figured it was likely to be too large.

When the costume arrived, H.o.p. waited, smiling and eager, enthusiasm barely contained, while I plied the package with the butter knife he'd brought me, educating him on how, "See, H.o.p., how mom is doing this, you never ever pull knives toward you when cutting something because the knife could slip and skewer you."

The costume was too large. But try telling a seven-year-old, especially a seven-year-old who never gives up anything and to justify being a pack rat junkmeister insists that nothing should be thrown out as it can be recycled.

Several days before the arrival of the pirate costume he hoped to recycle packing popcorn the other day by drawing faces on them and turning them into teensy little puppet heads. At least he didn't tear them up and make snow, which is another choice recycling idea that drives me nuts.

"It fits just right!!!" H.o.p. declared of the pirate costume.

Which it did, if your skeleton has had his legs amputated mid-calf. But H.o.p., thrilled at the transformation that met him in the mirror, was happy as can be.