#224 In which our hero discusses a recent Halloween costume, and his attempts to not frighten children.
Every year my agency has a Halloween party. They award great prizes for best costume. Last year, the prize was two airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States, a hotel room and $200 spending cash. This year the prize was more modest, just the airline tickets. But still, a prize worth winning.
Now, last year, they had two costume categories: most humorous, and most scary. There were probably 20 entries for the humorous category, but only four for the scary category. My costume last year wasn’t especially humorous, and it wasn’t scary at all, so I didn’t expect to win anything. And I didn’t. But it got me thinking.
If so few people try to be scary, that’s the category to enter! I could easily win free trip!
I kicked around a few different ideas, but when my wife again pestered me to shave my head, I decided to work that into the costume. So… something scary, something with a bald head… I decided on Nosferatu. Scary, creepy, bald and, most importantly, something I thought I could actually pull off.
I love playing dress-up. Now, I’m not some weird cosplay goon, but it’s a lot of fun to dress up as someone/something else for the evening. When a friend of mine announced a Steampunk-themed costume party, I immediately went to work building my own raygun. So for the Halloween party I started looking around on the Internet for ideas.
One thing I really wanted was to have red eyes. There is no shortage of websites selling “theatrical contact lenses.” Here’s one example. Scroll down to see the dozens of choices. I should mention that most real optometrist sites warn against buying colored contact lenses over the Internet. And they’re right… you don’t really know what you’re getting. I did a little research, found what appeared to be a legitimate brand name, and then hunted for a site selling that brand name for less. That’s one thing I did learn… you can get the exact same lenses for wildly different costs. I ended up with a pair for $90, which was pretty average, cost-wise. This was by far the most expensive part of my costume.
Then I went to one of those fly-by-night Halloween shops (Halloween USA, if it matters to you) to look for teeth, ears and makeup. I was really disappointed in their selection of ears… all I could find that was remotely close to what I wanted was a pair of fat rubber pointed ears. But I did find a nice pair of vampire teeth. And some black and white “cream makeup.” I opted against fake blood because… well, doesn’t every Halloween vampire have a little dribble of fake blood in its mouth? And I didn't want to be like everyone else.
Everything else for my costume I already had. I figured I'd wear my black suit pants, black dress shoes, black shirt and a black vest I bought years ago (I was big into vests for awhile). I looked up how to tie a cravat, and made one out of some scrap fabric (black, 'natch) we had in the basement. A tie tack to hold it down and I was set.
But, as the day of the party drew closer, I still wasn’t happy with the fake ears. I figured I'd just not wear them. If you do a Google Images search for Nosferatu, you’ll notice that the ears are a pretty major element of the costume. I was dissappointed, but I thought I could just be a generic vampire.
I didn’t like the teeth I got, either. They were individual fangs that attached with putty. They worked okay, but the plastic was kinda yellow, and didn’t match the color of my real teeth at all.
So, a week before Halloween I went to another Halloween USA to see what they had. And what they had was a kick-ass pair of ears that were really close to my natural skin tone. They also had a nice set of werewolf dentures, which I thought would work pretty well.
My original plan was to slather that white makeup all over my bald head; something I really wasn’t looking forward to. But, when I saw the color of the new ears, I started thinking that maybe I could still get a decent look without the makeup. After I got home and put them on, I abandoned the idea of using makeup altogether (except to darken my eyes).
I should mention that throughout the entire process I was attempting to acclimate my children to how I was going to look. I wanted to avoid them being afraid of me in my costume, because I was going to look very different. They’ve never seen me clean-shaven (hell, my wife has never seen me clean-shaven) and I’ve never shaved my head before. So, as I got each element of my costume, I showed it to my kids. When the contact lenses came, I put them in and said, “Hey! Look at daddy’s creepy eyes! What color are my eyes? Red! That’s right!” After I got the teeth I chased them around the house; “I’m going to bite you with my monster teeth!” And so on. And the day before the party, I came home and we had a big head-shaving party. “Come on! We’re going to shave daddy’s head! Won’t that be fun?”
The morning when I put it all together, the girls weren’t phased in the least. They laughed at my bald head (again) and didn’t even register the weird ears or teeth.
So, after all that fuss, was the final result worth it? I’ll let you judge.
I think it looked awesome. But scary enough to win the big prize? Find out tomorrow.