|November 3, 1999|
Tipping Your Hand
Halloween. When I was a kid it was always my favorite celebration of the year. It was fun, you got to eat lots of great candy that you weren't allowed to eat the rest of the year and you didn't have to buy anyone presents. It was that last one that truly impressed me. Halloween wasn't a battle of the pocketbooks. Halloween didn't require you to express anything that you didn't mean. It was just candy and costumes. I loved it. Then I read Freud.
It turned out that Halloween was more than just a frivolous glucose binge - it was the perfect opportunity to psychoanalyze your friends! For 364 days of the year, these people carefully groomed a very calculated public image of themselves and then in a moment of unguarded recklessness on October 31st, threw the whole facade away. Because what is a Halloween costume if not a window on the soul?
How many times have you gone to a Halloween party where the macho studly sports-guy in your social circle has shown up in drag? It's pretty much a standard. He's an amply endowed cheerleader or a sleazy nurse or one of the mutant breastoid-chicks from Babewatch. What it's supposed to project: I'm a laugh-riot, wacky kinda guy who's not beyond poking fun at himself. What it actually means: I've suppressed my sexual confusion long enough; I long to experiment with something else; are any of you guys picking up on this?
How many times have you gone to a Halloween party where someone with just way too much cash at their disposal has gone and rented themselves the world's most intricate costume with every accessory in place? They're Louis XIV or Sir Lancelot or a Japanese samurai. What it's supposed to project: I'm a really busy guy who's so busy busy busy making money money money that I didn't have time to even THINK about a costume. Did I mention that I'm busy? What it actually means: I have absolutely no imagination; I couldn't put a costume together if you gave me a blueprint; I don't trust myself to put together anything decent on my own; I'm afraid that if I did do something on my own my friends would laugh AT it - not WITH it; my friends' respect will be bought by the fact that I rented this outfit.
How many times have you gone to a Halloween party where some mousy little gal who's always struck you as the girl-next-door type has shown up dressed as a hooker? Not any hooker you're likely to see on the street, mind you. They're always dressed as some glam-trash but wholesome kind of hooker like Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman: a sexy, sultry, smart-talking little gal who exudes confidence and independence (few girls want to dress up like Elizabeth Shue from Leaving Las Vegas: a battered, bruised and bleeding little gal whose trick with the football team has gone horribly wrong). What it's supposed to project: I'm a laugh-riot, wacky kinda gal who's not beyond poking fun at herself. What it actually means: I've suppressed my sexuality long enough - are any of you guys picking up on this?
How many times have you gone to a Halloween party where at least three people in the room have dressed as characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation? They're Data, or a Borg or the big ugly guy who looks like a cross between Niki Lauda and a Wookie. What it's supposed to project: I'm a cool dude/dudette who's hip to pop culture. What it actually means: I have absolutely no life whatsoever and my best friend Mister Cathode Tube assured me that this was a cool costume.
How many times have you gone to a Halloween party where at least one wallflower little gal who's gone through her whole life wearing figure-concealing tarps by Woods has ripped your eyes out of their sockets, throttled your cerebral cortex and kick-started Little Elvis by dressing as a cat? She's wearing black nylons, a skin-tight black Danskin, and little kitty ears with whiskers drawn on her cheeks. What it's supposed to project: I'm a playful little kitten who thinks that the musical genius of Andrew Lloyd Weber will thrill generations to come. What it actually means: I've suppressed my sexuality long enough - are any of you guys picking up on this?
How many times have you gone to a Halloween party where some guy who's never been able to get very far with women has decided that if he dresses as Dracula, he'll have carte blanche with the ladies. What it's supposed to project: I'm the last of the red hot lovers, baby! What it actually means: I get two chances all year to grab babes I don't know and tonight has got to last me until Dec 31st.
How many times have you gone to a Halloween party where someone's idea of a costume has amounted to pulling a latex mask over their head? They don't supplement the mask at all by dressing the part or assuming the personality or acting in character. They just wear jeans, a Blue Jays T-shirt and oh, hey... Pierre Trudeau's head! What a riot! No lapel flower... no groovy seventies suit... just the head. Other masks that figure big here include those of Richard Nixon, Freddy Kruger, ET, and the Coneheads. Once upon a time, these masks might have been funny. Or scary. Or maybe even both. But now they're just lame. Someone's got to start making contemporary latex masks that are relevant. Masks of truly scary people like Paul Bernardo... Jeffrey Dalmer... Canada's own Hitler-of-the-90s Preston Manning... Code-Meister Bill Gates... a mad cow... or maybe even Cancer. Now THAT would be scary...
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