Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Halloween - sanctioned public play

I love Halloween. I always have. My earliest Halloween memory is of my Mom reminding me and my brother that we had to make our costumes since Halloween was coming up. I don't remember the initial conversation about it, just the reminder. And that year (I was maybe 3 or 4?) I went as a fish, with a paper bag body on which I drew fish scales, and a shower cap on my head.

I met DH at a Halloween party. We were both recent liberal arts grads, and dressed like it. I was a Greek Chorus, dressed in a toga, intending to repeat the salient points of any conversation I was in. (That got old, fast.) He dressed as Munch's painting The Scream. I remember he gave up a coveted couch seat to cross the room to come talk to me.

As a kid I remember dressing as a pencil (hard to sit down), and a thief (because my brother was dressed as a lock), and a fairy. Not that original, but all homemade. But as an adult, my costumes have gotten funner and punnier:

XeroXena, Copier Princess (a Xena outfit made out of office supplies)
The Parking Goddess (grey street robe and a parking meter staff)
OB-GYN Kenobi (did you know you can order a speculum online?)
Genetically Modified Corn (complete with pieces of fish)
Blood Flo (vampire waitress)
Heavy Metal Zombie (I know, what's the difference, right?)
Bridezilla (Godzilla with a dress and veil)
Magic 8 Ball (simple black outfit, holding a cardboard die with different answers - great conversation starter at a party where I didn't know anyone)

It helps that some of our friends throw a theme Halloween party each year. For some reason, having a theme helps focus my creative energy. I wouldn't have thought of OB-GYN Kenobi if the theme that year hadn't been Spaceport Bar and Grill. The Parking Goddess came from the theme of Deities and Demigods. I suppose that's why poets like using sonnet forms - having limits gives us something to bounce off and makes us re-imagine how to make what we have fit, whereas limitless freedom is an abyss that's hard to escape.

This year the theme is 1001 Nights. So I'm thinking: Cher-azade. Not Sheherazade, not Cher, but a combination of both. I don't know if the wig I got will really make me look like Cher, but I'm gonna give it a shot.

I love the fact that on Halloween, it's ok for everyone, adult and child, to dress up. It's even expected in some quarters. We are encouraged to look funny, be creative, make something never seen before - some companies have costume contests, some schools have a parade. No one gives you hard looks or reports you to the police for dressing like a baby or a priest or a bunch of grapes (again, hard to sit down). (Remember in The Incredibles when Edna Mode tells Mr. Incredible she won't make a costume with a cape? Well, for Halloween capes are fine, but masks make it hard to eat, drink, and breath. Costumes that are hard to sit down in will also be hard to use the toilet in. Face paint will itch and smear. Just saying.)

I guess I wish every day life was more like Halloween - publicly ok to be foolish and silly, try something new and strange, without getting shot down. OK to dress up, suit up, wear a different personality for a while. Speak in a goofy accent, or walk on our hands, or wear all our clothes backwards. In other words - play.

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