What are you supposed to be?
That’s a hard thing to hear when you’re wearing what you consider to be a brilliant Halloween costume. I encountered it young, when in first grade, I saw so many friends dressed as Cinderella in her baby blue ball gown and I wondered why no one ever dressed as Cinderella *before* the ball. I mean, she was still a princess inside. So that was my costume. Sweatpants, an apron and soot on my face. I thought it was a real winner.
Surprise: No one got it and all day I had to explain it over and over. Looking at pictures my parents took at the school party (my mom must’ve been the PTA volunteer) I realize I just looked dirty.
A few years later, in 1977, when Star Wars came out, my dad thought he’d help me with my costume, which he determined should be Darth Vader. I had a Darth T-shirt and he got me some items from Dravo, where he worked. He gave me a green paint respirator and a long raincoat—in bright yellow. I’m pretty sure you can figure out what I heard all night. I looked like a hazmat responder with good taste in movies.
Fast forward to the early ’90s and my husband, Myles, and I went to a party at Donzi’s for the radio station I worked for at the time. Radio station employees are highly creative so this was going to be tough. I mean, our morning show went as KISS, complete with silver makeup and leather codpieces.
I went as a flight attendant in a blue skirt suit and Myles was a barf bag, made out of a huge, white piece of cardboard. Everyone knew instantly what we were. We took it as a win until a large group of flight attendants from USAir stopped in front of us and told us it was “definitely not funny.” So now, we were offensive. Great.
So it was with mixed pride and concern that I helped my son prepare for his favorite costume in elementary school: Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel. I thought I made it easy by buying him a Weather Channel windbreaker, which worked perfectly because that Halloween was freezing. An umbrella with some “fronts” hanging from it and a microphone with the Weather Channel logo…and I thought he was set. Perhaps he went astray by not donning a bald head cap because still, we heard many stand in their doors and say “Who are you?”
I suspect this Halloween, the creativity will be in full swing. Let’s embrace the costumes that took extra thought, extra time and maybe an extra few minutes to explain. It’s probably the most fun we’ll all have in masks for a while.
Laura Pace Lilley, Editor in Chief
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