There was a period in my life when I was a black cat for Halloween 5 years in a row (a number that would have been higher had I not outgrown the original costume). Besides signaling my blossoming obsession with cats (it was around this time that I would take out a new edition of Cat Fancy every week from the library), this pattern, I realize now, was a strong indicator of the inherent laziness that I would come to loathe in my later years. I mean, out of all the Halloween costumes in the entire world, out of any character I could have been, I chose to be the same exact boring animal for 5 years. The disappointment in this decision is compounded by the fact that the annual Halloween catalog that shows up in my mail every month boasts costumes like these and I didn’t take advantage of any of them:
Which is why, in 4th grade, I made the very bold decision to be something different, something so unique that no one else would ever question my taste in costumes again. I decided to be a unicorn.
Well, okay, let me backtrack for a second here: I didn’t choose to be a unicorn, per say, but when my grandma sent my brother and I costumes in the mail that year and mine happened to be a full-bodied, white unicorn, I couldn’t possibly say no. The other important thing to note is that the year I dressed up as a unicorn was also the year that I happened to get invited to a Halloween party.
I never got invited to parties as a child. This was not because I didn’t have friends but because I would often choose to ignore those friends and read the newest Marvin Redpost book in the corner of the room for an entire day. Therefore, this Halloween invitation was a pretty big deal and I spent an obscene amount of time relishing my extraordinary costume and imagining its big debut.
When the day of the party finally came, I proudly marched into host’s kitchen and descended the stairs to the basement where the rest of the guests were waiting, unknowingly destroying my dignity with each added step. Finally, my eyes fell upon the group of girls, sitting cross-legged and gossiping in the center of the room, all wearing black, simple, nearly identical witch costumes.
Picture the scene. A gleaming white unicorn in a pack of black witches. I basically glowed, you guys. Any costume would have been better than the unicorn suit. In fact, here is a list of outfits that would have been exponentially better than the one I was wearing:
- an eyeball
- a zombie Smurf
- a half-eaten turkey wing
- any of the characters from the new Hobbit movie
- the 47 percent
- a role of toothpaste
- the like button from Facebook
ANY OF THESE THINGS WOULD HAVE SUFFICED. But no. Instead I went with a horse with a misplaced horn.
The next few hours of the party remain a blur, partially because after that point, my soul had crawled into the corner of the room and assumed the fetal position and partially because I don’t think I actually want to remember what happened. My life had turned into Mean Girls and I was Lindsay Lohan, the zombie bride version.
Only in retrospect do I now realize how successful this costume endeavor was. Sure, it was a little embarrassing at the time but without that initial change, I would have been a black cat for every Halloween for the rest of my life. That unicorn costume inspired me to don more creative characters in the following years, including…
The unicorn incident, as traumatic as it was, helped me realize that Halloween is perhaps the only time in your life where being someone else is not only allowed but encouraged. So go ahead. Be a witch. Be Lady Gaga. Heck, you can even be a sofa for all I care. (Who am I to judge your aspirations?) Make the most of Halloween before dressing up is no longer an option. And remember: if worst comes to worst, there’s always a black cat costume out there to fall back on.