Trash Bag Girl saves the day and some cash

This story originally appeared in the Saturday, October 28, 2006 edition of The Kansas City Star

For years my Halloween alter ego was that little-known superheroine Trash Bag Girl.

Her superpowers included:

The ability to fashion a costume from a plastic garbage sack.

The ability to create said costume for less than a dollar -- in under five minutes.

The ability to reuse her costume for party clean-up.

My friend Sue in St. Louis teaches in an alternative high school, and throughout the 1990s her fellow teachers had a Halloween costume party. While some attended in elaborate garb, we donned various versions of trash bag regalia year after year, becoming known as the Trash Bag Girls. I arranged my annual vacation days so I could always take the train for a visit over Oct. 31.

First we went as the California Raisins in black trash bags, sunglasses, black jeans, sneakers and white gloves, singing a tone-deaf rendition of "Heard It Through the Grapevine."

Later we impersonated the "Shuttlecocks" from the Nelson Gallery, wearing overturned plastic flowerpots on our heads and white trash bags slit to look like feathers. Well, sort of like feathers ... in a dim light ... after you’d had a few glasses of the purple, rum-laced witch’s brew they were ladling out. To make our costumes more authentic, we’d each stapled to one of our "feathers" a note card that read: DO NOT CLIMB ON SCULPTURES.

We quickly learned that the St. Louis partygoers had never heard of the sculptures, which probably should have occurred to us, had we not been so cracked up by the idea of sporting upside-down flowerpots on our noggins.

White Trash got the most laughs, so that’s what we went as two or three times: white trash bags, bad wigs for a quarter apiece from Goodwill, pink plastic curlers, too much makeup, mouths full of bubblegum for chomping and popping.

As you’d imagine, we never won the costume contest -- and my avid Elvis collector pal really wanted to the year the prize was a velvet painting of the King as a matador.

But we were up against the shower scene from "Psycho," for heaven’s sake, with a plastic flowered curtain rigged to hang overhead in a circle around the partygoer, who wore a nude body stocking smeared with red marker! We were no match for that, even though we’d finally forked over the change to upgrade to Hefty bags instead of the flimsy off-brand.

Killer Bees, with yellow trash bags and black electrical-tape stripes, were to be next on our costume list, complete with deely-bopper headbands for antennae, but the party hosts had the nerve to move out of state. All for the best, my fellow Trash Bag Girl and I agreed, as we just couldn’t hold our witch’s brew like we used to in the old days.

So we decided that we’ll save the orange trash bags we got at a garage sale for Halloween costume parties we’ll attend when we’re elderly ladies together in the home -- a little artful use of black tape and we’ll be good to go as withered jack-o’-lanterns.

From what I’ve read, the most popular costumes for women this year are sexy fairy, sexy Renaissance/medieval, Playboy Bunny, sexy witch and Egyptian belly dancer.

Cute, sure, but let’s see you haul a kitchen full of dirty paper plates and Halloween party mess to the curb with one of them. Trash Bag Girl to the rescue!

To reach Marli Murphy, a contributing columnist to FYI on Saturdays, send e-mail to