In Disguise

While I’m not really wild about Halloween, I do love a good costume party. Preferably at other times of year and for other occasions, but if there’s one thing I kind-of, almost, sort-of like about Halloween, it’s the dressing up.

Which is not to say I’m good at it.

Here are three of my worst Halloween costume efforts, in chronological order:

* * *

I can say with certainty that this incident took place before I saw Poltergeist, after which I was terrified of clowns forever and never would have impersonated one.
I can say with certainty that this incident took place before I saw Poltergeist, after which I was terrified of clowns forever and never would have impersonated one.

1. Murder Clown

When I was little, about 7 or 8, I dressed as a clown. It was one of those pre-made, all-in-one, cheap-ass costumes that you just step into and zip up. Pretty flimsy.

At trick-or-treat time — that most holy of occasions when candy is allowed in massive quantities — I ran from house to house like a maniac. As is my way when I am on foot for any period of time, I tripped. But because it was dark, I didn’t notice that my costume had ripped open at the knees when I fell. And because I was high on mini-Snickers, I didn’t realize there was blood streaming from both my kneecaps and splattering all over my shoes. I did sense that something around my knees felt funny, which is why I must have reached down to touch them a few times, which is how I managed to then cover myself in BLOODY HANDPRINTS.

I couldn’t see myself, though, so I didn’t know that at the time. The only people who knew it were the ones who could see me — the adults who opened their doors and saw a tattered, gory, chocolate-toothed midget clown, standing under their front porch light, grinning and holding out two bloody hands. Happy Halloween, folks. I’ve come to eat you alive.

* * *

Why was I inspired by this? I have no idea.
Why was I inspired by this? I have no idea.

2. Libyan Dictator

OK, this is horrible. When I was 11, I dressed as Muammar Gaddafi for Halloween. The costume: a liberal dusting of bronzing powder, a khaki/camo outfit, aviator sunglasses, boots… and a very real-looking fake gun. Which I carried to school. My sweet little all-girls, Episcopal school.

What the SHIT was I thinking? I don’t know. I remember thinking the irony of scrawny little me going as an anti-imperialist, militant revolutionary with ties to terrorists was riotously funny. And I know it fit my (extremely dorky) pattern at the time to base a good bit of my elementary-school comedy routine on current events I saw on NBC Nightly News, which I watched religiously because I was in love with Tom Brokaw. (Still am, Tom. If you’re reading this, email me.)

Anyway, I decided that’s what I would be, and NOBODY SUGGESTED THAT IT WAS A BAD IDEA. Not parents, not teachers, NO ONE pointed out that my costume was about a dozen kinds of offensive, kind of racist, and totally inappropriate for an 11-year-old and for school. The 80s were a different time, what can I say.

* * *

"Hey, that looks like a great costume," I said to myself in the grocery store.
“Hey, that looks like a great costume,” I said to myself in the grocery store.

3. Garbage

Several years ago, when the costumes-must-be-slutty thing was juuuuust picking up and wasn’t yet totally overplayed like it is now, I was invited to a Halloween party with a very fashionable crowd. They, of course, were right on the cutting edge of the sexy-everything costume trend. I, however, was stuck in my “witty puns make great costumes” phase.

So you can imagine my entrance when I waddled through the door of the party dressed as… White Trash.

Seriously. Not sexy white trash. Just white trash. I found it hilarious when I first thought it up. I devised a suit of white Hefty-bags for my arms and legs and a huge one full of crumpled paper for my body, with paper towels sticking out of the top around my neck in an Elizabethan collar of sorts. Meanwhile, the first people I saw when I walked in were a Sexy Cheerleader (wearing what basically amounted to a ruffle around her buttcheeks), a Sexy Cowboy (chaps and vest), and a Sexy Bumblebee (various little striped scraps). And there I was, wearing a crown made of paper plates and Q-tips.

I like to think I really pulled it off, though.

* * *

Anyway, I’ve learned that I do better with costumes when I am given a theme or some specific instructions to follow — not when it’s just a free-for-all, come-as-anything kind of affair. That’s too much room for error — I mean, creativity.

Be safe out there. And keep your eyes peeled for murder clowns.

* * * 

In other news: 

Penguins and the QueenMany thanks to the Queen Latifah Show for featuring The Random Penguins. The birds will be popping up periodically throughout the end of the year in a little holiday-themed series. This was a lot of fun to work on! Here’s the first one. 

Hype Interview Yay



Enormous thanks to Barnes & Noble and the folks at Touchstone / Simon & Schuster for inviting me to interview Allie Brosh, whom I would absolutely adopt if she were just a few years younger and I were a few years older and I could possibly pass her off as my own.

Other than the bit about bananas (she’s such a good sport), my favorite part might be the “best advice” she passes on. And I have to agree with her 100% on the word “blogger.” We need a new word. Anyway, click on over to the interview if you’d like to read some of her fabulous answers to my goony questions. Thanks!

On that note, I really enjoyed this NPR article about the impact of immediacy in storytelling: “Present Tense: Allie Brosh, Donald Glover, and Hurting Right Now” It mentions comedian Rob Delaney, too, who’s quite the pleasing mix of intelligent and nuts and whom I also had the pleasure of interviewing this week. (More on that later.)

Oh, and Parcheesi finally died. Without question. Totally dead. Just thought I’d keep you posted.


  1. I just “liked” your post but thought it was my own lazy way of getting out of writing a comment. So, I just love your posts and have recently started following your blog after discovering you on Freshly Pressed.
    Having a good laugh at the hilarious (and very imaginative) costume ideas. Happy Halloween! :D.

  2. The murder clown had me laughing so much. That could have been me except even a one piece zip up costume sounds too fancy. I had the nylon one piece screen print costumes that had slit in the back and strings like hospital gowns to tie. They also had a matching almost flat crinkly plastic mask with slits for the nose, mouth and eyes and not at all made for a kid in glasses. You were limited to whatever was on the rack at the store your mother took you to. Then you had to button your huge winter coat over the whole thing away. Those were the days. Yours sound much more creative. I wore my wedding dress with angel wings once just to prove that you could wear that thing more than once. It wasn’t a traditional wedding dress obviously…

    • WOAH!
      Princess Judy, your reply could be a page from my childhood diary. Only I had a lot more misspellings, fewer coherent thoughts, and a great deal more whining. But, other than that, it’s the same! Down to the wedding dress with wings – I went the fairy route, but it was a wedding dress with wings.

  3. OMG! I am so happy when you post something! You are my very first blog to follow!

    I must be getting very old, the only costume I remember was a bride, and I was a bride for at least 3 years running. My gown went from full legnth to tea legnth. I have no idea how young I was, but that is the only costume I remember well from my childhood. Maybe it was because to canvas the town- not just the neighborhood- the whole town, we too had to don the winter gear so’s not to freeze to death, and then the costume really lost it’s pizazz.

    Condolences on Parcheesi…

  4. You have amazing brushes with fame. I sort of want to touch you, but only partially-inappropriately.

    While you may not be a fan of Halloween, you sure are good at describing your costumes. I almost peed my pants over the whole bloody clown, running amok thing. OMG, that is so funny. I wish I’d have been your BFF that night.

    It is my goal to be invited to (and to attend) a masquerade ball. I think I need to work on my social circles a bit.

    Also, I am sorry to hear about Parcheesi, though actually relieved to find you didn’t mean the game had been discontinued. I’m sort of selfish and lacking compassion.

  5. “tattered, gory, chocolate-toothed midget clown, standing under their front porch light, grinning and holding out two bloody hands”…oh that made me laugh so hard…I could see it! In my mind though she had her two front teeth missing as well…haha.

  6. this is one of the funniest things i have ever read. i have a similar costumed past. McDonalds Fry Guy was one of my college favs (1994, sexy-everything came two years later)….made the mistake of being a purple fry guy, but as it turns out, no purple, just primary color fry guys. Purple was Grimace so no one knew who the heck i was. Just a gal with ugly purple string draping over black tights and huge plastic clown glasses. Cannot stop laughing about white trash and fry guy misery. thank you!

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