Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A short report from George Romero’s Pittsburgh

Which false face did you take off for Halloween this year? Here’re some costumes I saw or heard about:

One of my best friends works as a cook for a runaway shelter in Minneapolis. I asked her what her three year old was dressing up as, and she said, “He wears a moustache to pre-school almost every day. He said he wasn’t interested in doing Halloween.” When pressed further, she said that he wears a drawn-on moustache, usually French, except sometimes he draws on kitten whiskers and a goatee instead. He often wears a polyester leisure suit, presumably in imitation of his father who wears suits. My friend herself dressed up as one of the sisters from the movie “Grey Gardens,” Little Edith Bouvier Beale, and served the kids tuna casserole.

A local friend went as a Magic 8 Ball to a party over the weekend. He’d originally conceived it as a costume for his teenage daughter, who’d rejected it as too square. But he had good luck with it at the party, “people asked me questions all night,” so his son was borrowing the idea (and the costume) by Halloween night.

On the bus from Fifth and Wood Street Saturday night, some students from the Uptown girls’ college filed on: Bumble Bee in an obscenely short mini skirt, Lady Cop in an obscenely short mini skirt, Alice in Wonderland in an obscenely short mini skirt, goth school girl in obscenely short mini skirt. Further up the route, some Carnegie Mellon students as axe-murder victims, complete with art-school blood-carnage on half their faces.

My IT guy’s kids were going as a witch (the boy) and a bride (the girl). He said, “It’s only once a year, we let ‘em do what they want.”

One colleague’s four year old went as a Care Bear. One woman’s three year old was a Ninja Turtle.

An old friend in New York went as a dog.

A new friend in Pittsburgh showed up at a non-Halloween function with battery-operated Devil ears. A number of Women’s Studies’ students came to class wearing cat ears.

A Pittsburgh transplant from the West Coast went as “New Age,” with Birkenstocks, cut-off jeans, and a fanny pack full of Nag Champa incense cones.

One University of Pittsburgh student walked around as Waldo. Another stood in line for bagels as a banana.

When I was very young, farther than my memory goes back, I went around as a witch in a costume my mother sewed me. Later I went as a ballerina for many years, and another time wore my mother’s torn yellow prom dress. I thought of this somewhere in my brain as going out for Halloween as “pretty” because that was different than real life. And I think I probably was pretty, and I felt pretty in those costumes, in the dark of the evening, but afterwards I went back to being “regular,” and despairing about being “ugly.” It seems funny to me now, that I could conjure up feeling good for one night of the year, but assumed that schoolyard taunts must be “true” the rest of the time.


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