The eye of the beholder

I may be a grown up, but I love Halloween as much as any kid so of course, when Dylan asked if I planned to dress up this year, I said yes.

“You should be Professor Snape!” he said.


How insightful, I thought. Dylan knows me so well.

I love Professor Snape. He is my favorite character in the Harry Potter series by a mile, and has been since I first read about the “teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin,” as I raced through The Sorcerer’s Stone during the summer of  2000. I didn’t think the “hook-nosed teacher” could be more enjoyable until I saw (heard) Alan Rickman in the role when the film was released the following year.

I pondered Dylan’s suggestion, thought about how I could do my hair, and the clothes I would need for the costume. Lots of black, lots of buttons, a billowing cloak. Can you buy black contact lenses? It would all hinge on the hair, I decided, and I came to the conclusion I might be able to pull it off.

“That’s a GREAT idea!” I said.

“I think you’d make a great Snape,” Dylan replied, “You really have the nose for it.”

Wait. I have the nose for it?

I sat very quietly for several seconds and waited on him to elaborate. He didn’t.

Many people would have left well enough alone. But not only do I apparently look like a much older wizard with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin — I am also a glutton for punishment.

“What do you mean I have the nose for it?” I asked.

He didn’t miss a beat. “When you turn sideways, it’s the same nose. You look alike.”

There have only been a few times in my life that I have been truly, utterly speechless. This was one of those times.

I do love Snape. But I don’t really want to look like Snape.

I might have been short on words, but I was not deterred. I made a nice little visual aid to illustrate how ludicrous it was to suggest any resemblance between us.

IMG_7808Puffed up and full of determination, I shoved it under his nose and waited for my well-deserved apology.

He immediately broke into a big, toothy smile and pointed at my face. “See! I told you!” he said, “I could ne–ver pull off Snape because my nose isn’t big enough. I told you you look alike!”


You know, everyone has an image of themselves in their head. I know it’s all in the eye of the beholder, but if I look like Severus Snape, my self-image is way, wayyyyy off base.

What a sad moment of clarity you get when you see yourself through your child’s eyes.

Also, it’s a little scary.


The Halloween conversation started back up later that day, and Alyssa asked if I’d decided on a costume.

Having lost some of my enthusiasm for Snape, but with Harry Potter still fresh on my mind, I said, “Maybe I’ll be Bellatrix.”

If you aren’t familiar with Harry Potter, Bellatrix is a psychotic, deranged, lunatic murderer, who I would argue is the scariest, most disturbing character in the entire series.

Dylan chimed in, “You COULD be Bellatrix!”

Surely not again. I turned to look at him. “Do you think I look like Bellatrix?”

“Yeah!” Dylan said.


Meet Bellatrix Lestrange. Take a look at those beautiful teeth!

Why do I torture myself?

I stared at Dylan harder, until I was sure he could feel the singe of the laser glare shooting from my eyes, while I waited for a different answer.

“I look like Bellatrix.”

“Yeesss?” He said it slowly this time, a timid question that could be seen on his face as much as it could be heard in his voice. It was followed by a very long pause. Finally, he said, “What do you want me to say?”

But he had already said plenty.

I guess it could be worse. At least Bellatrix doesn’t have a big nose.

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