Getting to Pretend - Random Reasonings

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Getting to Pretend

What makes Halloween Parties so much fun for adults is getting to pretend you are someone, or something, other than who you are. At least for a few hours.

For many years I was lucky enough to go to Halloween costume parties every year. So many costumes … so many opportunities to not be myself.

I think my favorite was the year I became Alice of Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t fall down a rabbit hole, didn’t shrink and then get large (no drugs at this party …  only booze), and no one threatened to chop off my head. But I had fun staying in character for much of the party.

I haven’t gone to any Halloween costume parties recently. My last was in 2017 when a friend invited me to go with her to what was the “must have” Halloween party invitation on the Forgotten Coast, the annual Halloween party by Eastpoint, Florida’s hostess extraordinaire.

I decided to go pure Halloween that time, and dressed as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I still have the gorgeous black gown and black wig. It was my first time ever wearing black lipstick and painting my nails black.

At that party I met Jebediah Tate of Tate’s Hell Florida legend. I have no idea who the guy actually was in real life … he stayed in character the entire time telling everyone of his experience getting lost in the forest while searching for the panther that was killing his livestock. He recounted the horrors of swarms of mosquitoes and how he nearly went delirious with fear, malaria, and the venom of a snake bite before finally stumbling his way out.

Legend has it that Tate’s Hell State Forest got its name because when the real Jebediah Tate came across two strangers while wandering along a road after getting out the forest he said to them “My name is Jebe Tate and I just came through Hell.”

Florida folk singer Will McLean wrote a song about the legend called “The Ballad of Tate’s Hell”. The costumed Jebediah Tate at the party knew the song and performed it for us while in costume … it was like being with the real thing! Of course the real Tate died in the 1870s.

At that party I had a long and fun conversation with a Can Can dancer from Moulin Rouge and Count Dracula. I think in real life they were married, but again … I have no idea who they are even though I vaguely remember we exchanged real names.

That’s the fun of pretend! And Halloween parties.

Over the years and many Halloween parties I’ve been a clown, a gypsy, a flapper from the roaring twenties, a witch of the evil fairy tale kind complete with green skin, and a French maid (channeling Elke Sommer in the original film A Shot in the Dark).

Adult life is fraught with so many real challenges, we don’t have much time for the indulgence of pretending.

When you’re a kid you pretend all the time … it’s what kids do!

Are you lucky enough to be going to a Halloween costume party this year? If yes, who are you going to pretend to be?

Will you be Halloween traditional? A ghost, the grim reaper, a witch, a vampire, a demon, or a goblin?

Or perhaps channel one of the classic horror characters … Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Hannibal Lecter, or Chucky are all among the top favorites.

Maybe you want to be an animal. Gorillas, cats, dinosaurs, rabbits, bears, tigers, bumble bees, and turtles are all favorites.

Gorillas always remind me of the original Pink Panther movie. The costume party where George and Charles (Robert Wagner and David Niven) both dress as gorillas to rob the mansion, only to find a third party-goer as a gorilla too. And I love the scene where they are each driving in their respective sports cars still in full gorilla costume, and stop at the town round-about to strategize their escape while the gendarmes are chasing them.

Movie and TV roles are great inspirations for Halloween costumes. Chewbacca, Cat Woman, Cruella de Vil, anything Star Wars, Star Trek, or The Wizard of Oz, Spider Man, Iron Man, and Marilyn Monroe are all top costume choices.

A favorite art inspired costume is the couple in Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting. From the world of music the favorite costume is Elvis. From literature it’s Sherlock Holmes.

And to be really esoteric, dress up as your favorite literary great … Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemmingway, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, Jane Austin, Oscar Wilde, or Jack Kerouac. 

Halloween is the one time of year when we adults can pretend. Even if it’s just for one night, isn’t it fun to be someone else for a few hours?

“Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story.”

Mason Cooley

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