Why you should care
Getting the most with the least amount of effort is still the name of the game.
I hated Halloween. I never was one for cartoons or make-believe, I was a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. But I was just back in New York City, and I was going to go to a Halloween party and so, I needed a costume. Stat.
I think Halloween is like bungee jumping. You either love it or hate it — there are no in-betweens. And I just couldn’t get into being stared at and looking foolish. So for years my go-to costume was some cat ears, a mask, a few whiskers penciled in … and DONE.
But this year I needed to come up with something different. It was a loft party. You know … artists. Alas, I got an idea.
Last year, I was in San Francisco, where they go all out for this day — bodies spray-painted in gold, hand-sewn elaborate outfits. But I had it: I took an old slip, put it over my tights, and wrote the word Freudian on it. A trick I saw in an old movie.
I started getting into it, and decided to take the tampons, string them together and make a pair of tampon earrings. Then a Tampax tiara, and I wore them like a crown …
As I sauntered up to the party someone came up to me.
“A cloud, you are asleep — right?”
“That’s your costume … you are dreaming.”
“Well I guess that is a state, but I am wearing a slip — I am a Freudian slip — get it?”
“Oh, like yay, cool. My friend went last year as Picasso’s blue period. You’d like that one.”
“Ha! I would.”
This year though? This year I had about half an hour to come up with an idea. No whiskers this time. But what could I pull off?
I got to work. I took a few tampons and dipped them in Windex like the guy in San Francisco told me to do. Then I did the same with some winged maxi pads until they turned an aqua shade of blue. I was dressed in my New York black and then stuck the wings to the back of my T-shirt.
I started getting into it and decided to take the tampons, string them together and make a pair of tampon earrings. Then a Tampax tiara, and I wore them like a crown on my head. I was just about ready to go when I felt like the outfit needed something … more.
So I took blue construction paper and cut out a big circle. A period. An end to the sentence and then I took two safety pins and attached it to the front of my T-shirt.
My friends and I took a car service to the party. A large loft space on the edge of Park Slope. The host greeted us. A handsome man with brown shaggy hair and oversized glasses for his costume. Cute, I thought.
We were there only a few seconds when I saw him. I had to look twice.
This. Could. Not. Be.
But there he was. A slightly out-of-place, curly-haired man in a blue oxford. We stared at each other in disbelief. I finally broke the silence.
“Nice costume,” I joked.
He said nothing.
“Um, like what are the chances?” I smiled. He did not.
You see, that young man also decided to go as Picasso’s blue period, but for him, this was no last-minute, throw-some-sanitary-napkins-in-blue-dye thing. This was 365 days of preparation, and he was not amused.
And while I sat there with wet Windex dripping down my shirt, he had on the most gorgeous starched aqua blue oxford with about 20 tampons hand-dipped in blue paint purposefully placed around his chest and back like swimming sperm. Each one a work of art. Then on the bottom of his shirt, a scripted signature that resembled Pablo’s. This was obviously the work of great care and diligence and it was clear that he was not happy with my replica.
“I spent a year preparing this costume,” he said, annoyed.
“It looks great. I spent a few hours preparing mine.”
“I do this every year. Last year I had hundreds of toy soldiers glued to my chest — and I was at war with myself and the year before that I … ”
“Hey, Kid, don’t worry about it, yours looks better than mine.” He stood there annoyed and I just laughed it off. Finally, I did the only thing I could to break the tension — I took a picture of us, hugging, blue period to blue period. He with his Picasso pipe, and me with my real-life cigarette. We posed and finally, he smiled.
As the night progressed, I was in awe of the detailed costumes: One woman had a real bone on her back, handmade feathered angel wings. The list of fabulousness went on and it rivaled San Francisco for creativity.
I was chatting it up with a guy in sunglasses, finally feeling at ease in my costume choice. I put my hand on his arm. He looked at me.
“I’m sorry, but the smell of Windex is really starting to get to me,” he said as he flapped a hand up and down.
Maybe my costume wasn’t the best choice after all.
I took the ridiculous tiara off my head and ripped off my wings. And I went back to my comfort level. I was there in basic black with a blue circle like a bull’s-eye on my chest. The kid could have his glory. I could have my self-respect.
I grabbed a drink and then a funny thing happened. One by one, all the artists, the ones wearing the most elaborate costumes came up to me.
“I love your costume,” one said.
“We have been trying to figure out what you are all night,” another chimed in.
“I’m a period,” I said proudly. The end.
And they loved it.
I left that night hating Halloween a little bit less, the faint odor of Windex still lingering behind my ears.
The following year I stayed home and wondered what my doppelgänger was wearing. I’d hoped it was something great. For me, I just couldn’t pretend anymore.