As usual, Halloween this year arrived unexpectedly. Though one of my favorite holidays, I can never welcome the holiday as it deserves: scary stories, rented horror flicks, and enough carved pumpkins to illuminate a landing strip. Such traditions fill out the holiday like a good meal can fill out a pair of trousers. If I had my way, October should be dedicated to stories. Nothing but reading and listening to great tales, particularly with the kids. By November, children’s brains should percholate with any assortment of evil monsters, brave heroes, mysterious places, whimsical names, and cracklin’ leaves so that the whole month passes without a trace of homework-inducing melancholy (my bookbag in November typically reeked with such large projects and long papers that I felt tethered indoors to my desk for weeks). Sadly again two short papers chained me to the computer Halloween night, thus delaying my plans another year. Yet after scribbling a few paragraphs, I conceeded to the howl of wind and eye of moon and went searching through our bins for a make-shift costume for my uncle’s Halloween party.
As you may or may not know, the actual costume for Halloween parties matters little. I once attended a birthday party just before Halloween at one of the city’s bars, where the female attendees wore cat ears or devil horns and little else but a few scraps of rags. It was quite a show (only days later did my eyes slink back to their normal positions within their sockets), proving that oddity, excentricity, and a little less dignity are the only requirements for any costume. Yet being fond of riddles and self-humiliation, I strove to piece together an interesting and unique costume, something different from the norm, and thus dove into our collection of old hoods, masks, and fangs.
In years past this technique has met with various degrees of success. Once Pat clad himself in a short striped T-shirt, dark glasses, fake red hair, and a tall Seussical top hat. With his skinny frame and recent girlfriend-induced gut peeking from under his shirt, he somehow pulled off a drunken British rocker simply by mixing and matching bits of old costumes. Ryan raided Katie’s closet for dresses, wigs, high heels, and socks to stuff down his shirt — he wanted to be quite volumptuous. Candy he called himself. Personally I cannot recall which was funnier: seeing his chest sag under the weight or watching Dad’s face when Candy leapt up into his arms to plant a huge lipstick-stained kiss.
This year I was going to outperform them all. Choosing a mermaid tail, which I partially stuffed with towels (for definition) and shoved under a worn knit cap, I wrapped my body with white towels. The mermaid tale effectively poking out from under my cap, I found clean green shirt, which I crumpled and piled onto a dinner plate. A spicy tuna wrap with wasabe. Perfect.
Throughout the entire night, nobody could guess my costume. Looking back now at these pictures, I realize that the confusion stemmed from my haphazard creation of two costumes in one. Like those illusions of two faces that upon refocusing transform into a candlestick, my costume too transformed depending on your perspective. At one point, I could be a spicy tuna wrap with wasabe, and any other time, I became the buffoon in a bathtowel — with the fish growing out of his ear. Oh, just wait until next year . . .