Standing patiently while she blew up purple balloons to stick to my cheaply manufactured frame, I had to hold back from hysteric laughter. Looking down at Mom’s hard work, this deliciously original bundle of grapes, I could only feel gratitude.
At least I wasn’t something super lame. Like a princess.
Sure, being a bundle of grapes meant I couldn’t sit down. Or scrape against people. Or move quickly without losing a balloon. But I was an innovation. Something new, different, and homemade. My look was authentic and the effort made to send me out into the hoards of sweet-toothed children with pride deserved merit.
Dressing up for Halloween as a child was always a creative process. I despised the normal girl costumes and definitely refused to wear anything ridiculous off of a rack at the local Halloween store. The last time I sported a manufactured costume, I was a pound puppy. And I was four.
My biggest fear was that I’d be what someone else was. So when we made costumes, I always wanted to be something no one would even consider. Like Charlie Chaplin. Elementary school was an unfitting venue for my kind of Halloween garb. The kids would look confused in their Ariel and Batman costumes and laugh as they were meant to. The teachers would smile and praise. I imagine that at the age of eight I truly wanted to be a social outcast to the feeble-minded and top ranked by the gaudy vest-toting teachers of the world. It gave me a sense of genius.
Obscure costume design didn’t make me feel like a loser. It made me feel like I was one up. It made me feel sophisticated because I could fathom a character that others couldn’t. And I always ended up with more attention for it. Who cares about being a princess or a ninja? I was a conversational piece. That kid whose Mom helped her dress up as something cool. That kid who actually knows how to dress up as something and get into character.
Because that’s what getting dressed up is all about. Being something you clearly are not. And doing it well. For one night.
I always have this strange desire to dress up in male costume. Because it’s fun to explore that on a night when I’m permitted to be as unconventional as I want to be. Last year I remember thinking the best costumes I’d seen were two best girl friends dressed up as Wayne and Garth. Past man impersonations I’ve wanted to do: Angus Young, Marty McFly, Barf from Space Balls, Emperor Kuzco, and Kenny from South Park.
The few female parts that I’ve wanted to play are always too detailed to successfully find parts to without putting myself in financial trouble. For example, Carmen Sandiego toting a miniature Eiffel Tower. Or trying to convince my friends to dress up as the silent, guitar-playing women in the background of Robert Palmer’s music video “Addicted to Love”. Or to have friends dress up as the four seasons of the year with me.
Last year I was a geisha. It wasn’t the cleverest costume, but it was a big hit and required a demeanor change. Not to mention that I was painted in white, hair dyed black, and in full Japanese kimono on the 30 bus. The looks I got were worth the itchy skin. I got good comments about being a “prostitute”. And an inquiry about what was underneath. And if I was hiding anything in my hair, like condoms.
I either want to be obscure enough to require conversation or obvious enough to get an instant reaction of excitement.
This year, my roommates and I are covering ourselves in green clothing and accessories and painting our eyes black. We’re the Black Eyed Peas.
Haha. Get it? Like, green baby peas. With black eyes.
We’re each going to sing one of their Top 10 hits when people ask what we are.
Fine, it’a little cheesy. And a little bit lame.
But it’s original. And creative. And obscure. We’ll get a lot more comments and have much better conversation.
At least I’m not something super lame. Like a sexy bumblebee.