Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Masks of Halloween Approach

I've never been one for dressing in costumes for Halloween. It probably wouldn't come as a surprise that I only recall trick or treating maybe four times as a kid. Unless I am in a play, in which case my job is to get into character as best I can, I just don't feel comfortable pretending to be something I am not.

Maybe if I attended more Halloween/costume parties I would feel differently, but then it could be a chicken or egg argument. It perplexes me as to how people choose the costumes they decide to wear. Apparently, alot of people keep an abundance of otherwise superfluous clothing in their homes for the sole purpose of assembling a costume once a year! I barely have enough clothing to keep myself covered for a week. And I wear that clothing until it's ragged and not even worthy for costume making.

This is probably a sexist observation, but it also seems as though women are more into dressing up for Halloween than men. I wonder if it has something to do with societal norms pushing women into a wider variety of roles in their daily lives. Women, after all, are expected to be mothers, businesswomen, therapists, chefs, and dirty whores on any given day! Men are only expected to be... present. I think it is no small leap that women are consequently better at dressing up for Halloween.

There is a little bit of irony to my lack of interest in wearing a costume when you consider that most of my life has been spent wishing I was someone or something else. Throughout my life I have, at various times, wished I were a woman, a time traveller, a teacher, a newspaper reporter, a radio DJ (at least I got around to doing that one for a little while!), a film director, an author, a wealthy entrepreneur, a restaurant owner, completely Caucasian, a cat, a penguin, a painter, a dance instructor, President of the United States, and God. I suppose I could cull together a costume related to some of those, but most would be hard for other people to decipher, and it seems that part of the point of the costumes is that they are immediately recognizable.

Most of the time people just dress in archetypes. The typical costumes seem to be monsters (vampires, zombies), movie characters (Harry Potter, Obi-Wan Kenobi), Super Heroes (Superman, Wonder Woman), or famous people in the news (Britney Spears, Sarah Palin). The problem with all of these is you need imagination and skill with makeup, or money for a pre-made, probably ill-fitting, outfit.

Now that I think of it, there is one component to the phenomenon of dressing up that probably compels people more than all others, and somehow makes the time/expense seem worth it. The sense of escapism, even for a brief time, is a thrill with which people have always had a preoccupation. There is probably something of great intrinsic value which comes from shedding the bonds of reality and dressing up as a naughty nurse or Captain Kirk if only for one night. As soon as I can figure out how to dress up as God, I'll work on discovering what that something is, exactly.

Have fun and keep living life... or some approximation thereof.

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