There is a mischievous side of me that does not surface often, but I do enjoy giving it expression now and then. I can recall two occasions when I went to great lengths to disguise myself to the point where people who knew me well didn’t recognize me.
I was about 16 the first time I did this. I disguised myself as a young East Indian prince for a Halloween party that my friends were throwing in a large barn on their property. We were all supposed to come in costume, but no one else spent all day getting ready the way I did. Since I was almost as tall as my father, I wore his old grey pinstripe suit, one of his older white shirts, a tie, and even his shoes. I used dark pancake makeup on my face, neck, and hands, and with dark brown eye pencil, I drew heavy brows, eyeliner, and the shadow of a beard and moustache. I smudged shadow around my eyes. Then I tore up an old sheet into long strips and practiced wrapping them around my head until I had fashioned a turban. A large red glass brooch pinned to the front of it completed the look. When I got to the party, I walked around the barn, not saying much, for at least a half-hour incognito. I saw people stare and one even asked another, “Who is that?” Finally I had to reveal my identity before I freaked them out.
Many years passed before I got the urge to do such a thing again. I was in my late 40s, I think, and my church was having a costume party on Halloween in the Fellowship Hall. But the sanctuary was open, too, and an occasional person came into that building to get something from the supply closet. I had dressed myself as a “bag lady”, wearing a gawdy, mismatched flowered blouse and skirt, rolled down stockings, tennis shoes, a grey wig, and makeup that was too bright. I carried an old shopping bag and a cane, and I hobbled into the church and sat down on a chair in the back row. A few minutes later, a woman walked in, looked over at me, and went back out again. In a moment, two other women came in and one walked over to me and leaned down, saying with real concern in her voice, “Do you need help?”
I knew both these women, but I had to tell them who I was, much to their relief, and then I went to the Hall with them to join the party.
And then there is the fantastic alien (“grey”) costume that I use for sheer shock value! One October about 5 years ago, while shopping in a Wal-Mart store, I found an adult Halloween costume consisting of a hooded robe and the best alien mask I had ever seen. I had to have it, even though I doubted that I would ever go to another party. But I did take the mask with me to work one Halloween, put it on with a hooded jacket, and peered around the partition to the Director’s office just long enough for her to look up. Then I quickly ducked out of sight and took the mask off. A moment later I walked into her office with some papers. “That was a really good mask you had on,” she said.
“What mask?” I asked innocently.
Her eyes widened, and then she put her head down on the desk and whined, “Oh, don’t do that to me!”
A year later, I walked into my last workplace wearing that mask and enjoyed the double-take that the student PTA gave me, while the other therapists just smiled. This is what the full costume looks like on me (I am wearing black sox on my hands):