A still from Psy’s video “Gangnam Style” on my iPod touch. Dressing as Psy is an unrealized costume idea from a couple of years ago.
Halloween has come and gone. While some people strove to show off dazzling and creative costumes (or refined what is “sexy”), I once again phoned my outfit in. Although I love watching and reading of far-flung realms and imaginative characters, my efforts to tangibly submerge myself in another role have always been a bit lackluster and this year was no different.
One of the ironies of this Halloween is that I actually bought part of a costume months ago and forgot about it. By the time I remembered, I had missed the one big event where I may have used it and only donned it to get cheap eats from Chipotle.
I don’t know where my aversion to dressing up in costumes comes from, but things have been rough since trick-or-treating as a child. Part of it may stem from that I don’t necessarily want to dress up as someone that I’m not (I can easily try an accent or impersonation, but they can often be discarded with a drop of a hat without consequence). When I was in the sixth grade, people wanted me to play a drug dealer in a play for the D.A.R.E. program. I was pretty adamant in my refusal and they did something different.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have played a drug dealer because I had no idea how to depict one, but the real reason why I didn’t want to take the part is that I didn’t want to portray such a negative character. I wasn’t extremely popular in grade school (or in high school … or in college or…) and I didn’t want to do anything that could make things worse.
Although it’s not great to say, I do consider what others might think of me if I dress up (which I view as different from people judging me for who I am). That’s why I don’t don silly masks or embrace the more cheesy parts of any given fandom.
I love “Star Trek” and frequent discussion boards about the show, but I sure as heck won’t dress up or adopt a goofy Trek-related moniker. I don’t have any problem with those who do, but it’s not for me.
It came from MySpace… “I’m not a real chef, but I played one during Halloween 2006.”
I think I wouldn’t be so embarrassed to wear a costume if I had commitment to the costume and some measure of authenticity. However, I’m afraid many of my efforts would be underwhelming. For example, I would feel uncomfortable wearing an off-color foam Klingon forehead or a Starfleet uniform that’s a better fit for a bedroom than for a starship.
Since I don’t have the resources or wherewithal to commit to a truly great costume, most of my efforts in recent have been small and largely uninspiring.
One of my last fun Halloween costumes was in 2006 when I dressed as a chef. It was easy enough to do an adequate job as I could acquire an apron and chef’s hat to complete the look. The only downside were the handful of drunken bros who asked me to cook something for them (partly because I wasn’t able to come up with a witty retort).
Since then, my best costumes were actually for events outside of Halloween. Every year, my college pep band picks a theme for the Battle of the Bands at UC Davis’ Picnic Day. I’ve generally been happy with my costumes, although wearing a bandanna for a rock ‘n roll theme was super low-key.
This is my idea of rocking out with the UCSD Pep Band at Picnic Day’s Battle of the Bands in 2013. Thanks to Mike “Sparky” Sklar for the photo.
The best costumes that I wore for Picnic Day were simple, but hopefully effective. For a video game theme in 2008, I donned a blue jacket, red shirt and yellow ball cap to match the title character in “Paperboy.” I also tried to bring my bike to the event, but it wouldn’t fit in my car.
The best-executed costume and prop was for a science-fiction theme in 2007. I wore a brown tank-top over a grey T-shirt to mimic the undergarments of a Colonial officer from “Battlestar Galactica.” I was proud of the prop that I made, although it wasn’t from BSG — I used PVC pipe and a black tarp to recreate the monolith from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Although it was plastic, I definitely strove for authenticity and made sure that the dimensions of my monolith matched the one from the movie (1x4x9).
My depiction of the monolith from “2001: A Space Odyssey” on display during the 2007 Picnic Day at UC Davis. (Photo credit to the original photographer)
Outside of Picnic Day, my costumes have been bombs. One year, I wore a florescent green safety vest for reasons so stupid I don’t want to articulate it here.
This year continued the tradition of mediocrity. I wasn’t even planning to wear a costume because I was going to remain away from the public, but I remembered that I had bought something months ago. When the last Blockbuster store was going out of business in Chico in January, I snapped up one of their polo shirts from a table of clothing for sale.
I pulled the shirt out of the closet Friday. I felt embarrassed — my concept never really advanced beyond merely wearing it. Why couldn’t I do something more creative — like wearing ghost or zombie makeup with the shirt to portray the Ghost of Abandoned Technologies Past? On the other end of the spectrum, I didn’t have the tools to make it more authentic, I never worked at Blockbuster so I had no nametag or lanyard.
There was no time to refine the costume. I hesitated to put it on, but ultimately did to go to dinner.
The things I’ll wear to get a cheap burrito…
Even though it was a simple blue long-sleeved shirt, it still felt tight and uncomfortable. I made it to Chipotle, where the staff was doing a great job serving the line that at times stretched out the door. Before I was able to get into the building, someone from off the street came up to me and asked me for a movie recommendation — she wanted something serious for a mother who wanted to remain in her children’s lives even if they were reluctant to.
I was busted. Although I’m relatively conversant about films, I am by no means a cinephile (especially when my tastes typically run toward light-hearted fare). Even now, I can’t think of a movie that would match her request — maybe “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Silver Linings Playbook” (with the storyline involving Robert Di Nero as the father)? I’m horrible.
I finally got the $3 burrito and had a delicious meal that supposedly helps charity (although I’m curious about how much good Chipotle’s own Chipotle Cultivate Foundation actually does).
The shirt didn’t feel so awkward at the end of the night, but I was more than happy to change out of it. I don’t know when I might ever wear that shirt again.
I wish I was able to capitalize on one idea in 2012. As indicated by the photo at the top of this entry, I would have been more than happy to don a blue tuxedo in the style of Psy and his 2012 breakout hit “Gangnam Style” (video). Authenticity would still be a factor — I’m not Korean/Korean American, don’t speak Korean and really can’t do the dance — but the song is so satirical, I think I could fit in. Psy was also a popular male Asian music figure that one could look up to (move aside, William Hung).
I thought of it too late for Halloween 2012 and there was no real opportunity to wear the blue tuxedo since then (although one site was pushing blue costume tuxedos for Halloween and New Year’s Eve celebrations).
Maybe inspiration will hit me in time for Halloween 2015.