Barry Smith: Irrelativity
October 25, 2010
Halloween costumes used to be scary, didn’t they?
Not all of them, of course. I’m sure that while I was busy going door to door in a skeleton costume there were adults attending costume parties dressed up like politicians or current events or clever and ironic concepts. But for me, as a kid, it was all about the terror.
And yes, I was VERY scared of skeletons at the time. I was skinny as a kid, so a skeleton clearly represented my own body image insecurities. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it. Could be that they were just scary.
Then it was vampires. I watched some vampire movie on TV when I was 7 and it just ruined me. I slept with one eye open until I was 11. Thanks a lot, NBC Movie of the Week.
But, each Halloween after that, vampire it was. That’s the idea, right? You dress up like what you fear the most. It didn’t hurt that a vampire costume is an easy one to throw together – a makeshift “cape” made from any black fabric that’s handy, some fake fangs (available everywhere in October), some red food coloring – and boom, L’il Barnabas Collins.
It’s been a few years since I’ve dressed up for Halloween, and my last attempt was pretty pathetic. I’d waited till the last minute, so I threw on a black hoodie and grabbed my weedeater from the shed. I was the “Grim Weeder.” Get it? No, neither did anyone else. And it certainly wasn’t scary, even for someone who hates yard work as much as I do.
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This year I want to dress up as something scary, as scary as skeletons and vampires were to me as a kid. But those things don’t scare me anymore. High school anatomy got rid of my skeleton phobia. I’ve watched enough “True Blood” and “Buffy” to be totally desensitized to vampires. At this point, the only thing scary about vampires is the thought of someone making me sit through a “Twilight” film. And ever since “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland,” zombies are off the terror list, too.
But I’m obviously not without fears. It’s just a question of how to turn them into costumes. Here are a few ideas that I’m pondering for this Halloween.
ICY MOUNTAIN PASS DRIVING: Some of my most terrifying moments have taken place while driving a car through a Rocky Mountain blizzard. So, costume idea: I’ll wrap myself entirely in white-as-snow crepe paper, making sure to totally obscure my vision, then hit the town clutching a steering wheel with both hands. A liberal coating of White-Out on each knuckle will be a nice touch, and I’ll probably need to find some sort of reverse-catheter/colostomy device to add that air of authenticity.
FAILURE: Still not sure how to capture the full blown terror of this one. Maybe create a giant report card (with arm and leg holes) adorned with a big red “F?” Or maybe paint myself gold, like a trophy, with a tiny, tiny medal around my neck (supported by a crepe paper ribbon) and a cardboard plaque underneath that says “6,876,849,193rd Place” on it. Whichever I choose, I’ll need very stealthy shoes, because failure sneaks up on you. Boo!
TOOTH DECAY: OK, so maybe it isn’t THAT scary, but it’s worth being concerned about. Plus I think this is the sort of costume that will practically make itself. Bit of crepe paper, some glitter glue, food coloring, done. The only hard part will be deciding whether to go the molar or incisor route.
BEING WRONG ABOUT STUFF: Check it out – I’m a contestant on a game show called “Life!” I walk around with this cardboard (and crepe paper) box in front of me, like the podium a game show contestant would be standing behind. There’s a buzzer, but every time I hit it it spells out “WRONG” in bright red lights (and crepe paper) on the front of the box. This one’s sure to make adults quake with fear. I might even make it to the bonus round.
SOCIAL AWKWARDNESS: I figure I’ll just kinda leave the house dressed like I normally do. Then I’ll go somewhere and try to make conversation with someone. I’ll probably end up incorporating crepe paper into this “costume,” as I seem to have a lot of it around. Must be left over from last Halloween.