Dressing up for Halloween- some years I'm into it, some not. If I go ahead with it, I choose what I'm going to be very carefully. My costume has to meet strict criteria: I must be able to see. I must be able to breathe. I must be able to pee. I also don't do props. On a long night of party-hopping or trick-or-treating, I can't be bothered every twenty minutes wondering where I left my pacifier or my sword.
Some years I think I'm making it easy on myself by going for a store-bought costume. No cutting, gluing or hunting for accessories that they have every day at every dollar store all year long, until you need it. I can just buy the thing and be done with it. It's always a mistake. More costly than the ridiculous price of the costume itself is the emotional price. Trying on Halloween costumes is about as depressing as trying on bathing suits. The costume always looks so cute on the girl in the picture on Party City's wall. But somehow, when I try on the costume, my parts never go where her parts went on Party City's wall. This year, I tried on a white Wilma Flintstone costume. I figured: "It's one simple piece. How bad can it be?" (A rhetorical question everywhere but in a dressing room.) I scrunched up the dress from the bottom and shimmied my head through it. And that's where the journey ended. Not one single part of the dress made it over my shoulders. It may have been a costume for someone else, but it was basically a forty-five dollar neck brace for me. I debated whether to take it off or put one bone in my hair and another sticking out of the dress and go as a victim of a Stone Age hit and run accident (or a prehistoric prostitute since I was in my underwear from the neck brace down.)
We all know we're doomed when anything in this universe is marked: "One size fits all". Granted, sales would probably plummet if the tag told the truth: "One size fits nobody." They try to be more diplomatic nowadays and say: "One size fits most". Even still: Define "fits" say I, the woman wearing the pricy neckwear.
One aspect worse than bathing suit shopping: The fitting rooms at one of our party stores has the mirrors outside the dressing rooms. How could this go wrong? Allow me to tell you. There are two unisex dressing rooms side by side. Forget the fact that every time you emerge from one of them to look in the mirror, the person next in the sprawling dressing room line makes a beeline for the swinging open door, leaving you to explain in the mirror that you're not actually done with it yet. You'd have thought your garb would have been a hint. This isn't a sneaker store. Chances are you weren't planning to throw your clothes in a bag and wear your Cat Woman suit home.
Truthfully, you really don't have to even look at yourself in the mirror. You can tell if your ensemble's a disappointment by the looks on the faces of the strangers in line. All around there are people pretending not to notice you-- people looking at their phones, asking their kids what they want for lunch-- all in an attempt to keep them from guffawing in your face and/or conceal their feelings of pity and horror.
After which, dozens of customers around the Country every year at this time, quietly back their way into the dressing room, close the door, and die of a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Then the employees drag out the lifeless body, signal the next person in line: "This room's free" and incorporate its previous occupant into a window display, all the while whispering their "no returns after October 21st" policy into their ear... just in case.
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