The Halloween Identity Crisis
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday of the year. For one thing, it takes place during my favorite season — I grew up in a heavily forested area of Pennsylvania, and seeing entire mountainsides change color is pretty stunning for me now and positively mind–boggling to an eight–year–old. I also got to feed my hero complex, a long-standing tradition that continues even today in a manner that I suspect would be of some psychiatric interest. It started with a cowboy costume, presumably because I asked for it but likely influenced much less by Clint Eastwood and much more by the release of An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. From there, it alternated between “Robin Hood” and “Musketeer” (each with relevant movie releases, the more observant of you might notice) until I hit high school.
At that point, I was at an age where dressing up in costume was reserved more for Homecoming Week than Halloween, and carrying cap pistols and swords was “discouraged” in school. Homecoming highlights include a cardboard–and–duct–tape pre–300 Spartan with a Superman S-shield on his armor (I still can’t remember why), Quasimodo, and Indiana Jones. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until after I graduated that my high school decided to have a Superhero Day. Darn.
This Halloween, I dressed up as The Spirit, the eponymous character from the 2009 Frank Miller film based off of a Will Eisner comic book character. The costume is pretty simple — black suit pants, black dress shirt, black trench coat, black fedora, black domino mask, black gloves, bright red necktie. The look can hypothetically be completed with black dress shoes, but for true authenticity, black Converse All–Stars are a necessity. I thought it was a really cool look that produced a really cool effect for relatively little effort. So why on earth was the recognition factor so hard to come by?
To be fair, relatively few people saw the movie from which my costume came, but even so, I would have hoped that “Zorro” would not be the first thing that came to mind when they saw a red tie and high-top sneakers. Much as Zorro would fit in with my modus operandi as far as costumes are concerned, I don’t have a fencing sword or a cape, and if I had either, it would probably make it very challenging to get on a Saferide without getting caught in the door or slashing an artery.
The most troubling interpretation I got of my costume all weekend was Hamburglar. Yes, Hamburglar. I did not attach a domino mask to my face with enough double-sided tape to remove the top two layers of my face to be mistaken for the burger-stealing, freckled, bucktoothed, retired second–string mascot for McDonald’s. No offense meant to those who have fond memories of the fellow (and/or have a burger fetish) who did dress up as Hamburglar, but of all the awesome–looking heroic characters I could have chosen to dress as, Hamburglar was not on my shortlist.
That’s not to say that there weren’t benefits to my costume. I never used to think that domino masks (masks that only cover the area around the eyes) did anything to hide one’s identity, but after having friends question whether or not I was actually me under there, I have to confess that my comic book disbelief has been suspended an extra notch.
My ego may also have deceived me into thinking that I received more elevator eyes walking through Boston at 10 p.m. as I passed by all of the other Halloweenies, but between the slick tie, the cunning fedora, and all of the alcohol making their focus float up and down, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to prepare for next year’s costume. I’d like to try and be the less-than-heroic (but nonetheless awesome) Ash from Army of Darkness — I’m hoping if I do it properly, I won’t be mistaken for Ash from Pokémon.